Ah, the Red River of the North! Divider of our sister cities (Fargo and Moorhead), the Red acts as a natural border between North Dakota and Minnesota and provides both places with plenty of opportunity for fun on the water.
The 550-mile stretch of the river contains 70+ species of fish and with such a variety of birds that live along its banks, bird watching has become a popular activity as well. Due to the river’s expansive flora and fauna, hundreds of animals reap the benefits of the thriving environment surrounding the Red.
For those who wish to see and experience the Red for themselves, there are several ways to do so by utilizing options you may not know about. Here are five great ways to learn, see, and do more on the Red River:
1. Hit the water on a kayaking/canoeing adventure
River Keepers and Moorhead Parks & Recreation are local advocates for exploring the Red River and teaching others about its importance. Their canoe and kayak rentals allow those people brave enough to see, experience, and enjoy the river fist-hand. Lindenwood Park also provides rentals and river access, as well as an accessible launch.
2021 canoe/kayak rental information:
Hjemkomst Center Parking Lot (west lot)
When: June 1 – September 11 | Tuesdays 5-8 p.m., Saturdays 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Sundays 12-6 p.m.
Cost: $10/hour per vessel
For group rentals (5+ vessels), please call Moorhead Parks & Recreation at 218-299-5396 at least seven business days in advance. $100 minimum.
Lindenwood Park Rentals (temporarily closed for construction)
Hours: Open starting May 1 | Friday 3-8 p.m., Saturday & Sunday 12-8 p.m.
Cost: $10/hour per vessel
Please call 701-356-2106 to verify if rentals are available.
In addition to the rentals, Moorhead Parks also partners with other various organizations to host river paddling excursions. The excursions are suitable for all skill levels and give you the opportunity to learn about specific topics related to the Red River.
The 2021 paddling excursion dates and topics are:
All skill levels are invited! Each session begins at 6 pm at the Hjemkomst Landing, with basics of canoeing and kayaking. Please arrive at 5:30 pm. Vessels are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
May 19 – Birds of the Red River, hosted by Fargo-Moorhead Audubon
June 16 – History of the Red River, led by the Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County
July 21 – Animals of the Red River, led by the Red River Zoo
August 4 – History of the Red River, led by the Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County
August 18 – Trees of the Red River, led by the City of Moorhead Forestry
Fee: $15/person for canoe/kayak rental OR $10/person, if providing your own vessel. Children 5 and under are free.
2. Get your rod and reel ready for some fishing!
Grab your gear and head to the river for some of the best catfishing around! You might be lucky enough to catch other fish as well, such as pike, perch, walleye, sturgeon, or sauger. A list and map of public access spots, tips, and contacts can be found on the DNR’s fishing guide.
3. Hiking and biking
There are miles of trails suitable to both leisurely strolls and off-road biking. As Fargo-Moorhead’s largest multi-use park, Lindenwood Park is a great place to start! Explore the banks of the river on groomed paths and cross the walking bridge to visit Gooseberry Park on the MN Side of the border.
Cruise over to Moorhead’s MB Johnson Park for 4+ miles of mountain biking paths and walking trails alongside the Red River.
Birding is a popular hobby around these parts and the Red River is the perfect place for it. The riparian zone (a long zone of trees and flowing water) provides a unique opportunity for birders. While it slices through a flat, prairie landscape, this narrow strip of trees acts as an oasis for many birds. Visit the Dakota Audubon site to learn more about species and hot spots.
5. Participate in a race on the river!
Ever wondered what it would be like to be in a canoe/kayak race? Here’s your chance to find out! River Keepers sponsors an annual Race the Red event which consists of both a 3.5-mile fun race and a 6-mile competitive race to suit anyone that wants to participate.
The next Race the Red event will be on August 7, 2021 at 10 a.m.
Bonus idea: Grab a boatload of pals and schedule a river cruise aboard the SS Ruby!