Sunday, July 27, 2014

Campground Review: Sweet Briar Recreation Area Mandan, ND

If you're traveling east on I-94 through North Dakota just before you get to the town of Mandan, ND if you take exit 134 then turn north on the road the exit dumps you on within a mile or so you'd see the Sweet Briar Recreation Area.  Morton County has set up campsites around the west side of Sweet Briar Lake for first-come free camping.

Sweet Briar Lake from the Tank's campsite.
In mid-July I found an almost perfect campsite equipped with a fire ring, picnic table and trash can and settled in for a week or until my food ran out (about a week).

Here's the Sweet Briar campground data sheet:

Hookups:                                 None
Fire ring:                                  Yes
Water Access:                         Yes
Fresh Water:                            Yes
Trash Service:                          Yes
Toilets:                                    Yes-vault toilets
Showers:                                 No
Dump station:                          No
WiFi:                                       No
Level sites:                              Yes
Laundry:                                  No
Store:                                      No
Pool:                                       No
Shade:                                    Yes
Verizon reception:                   4G-4 out of 4 bars
Millenicom reception:              4 out of 4 bars
Cost:                                       Free, I stayed 7 days

Hard to see but there's a Verizon cell tower within sight of the lake.
The weather during my stay at the rec area was just perfect, days in the low 80's and nights in the upper 50's.  It generally gets breezy in the afternoons here on the plains.

A gravel road runs along the west side of the lake providing site access.
 One noteworthy point regarding the campsites themselves is how large they are and how much space is between them, a welcome change from state parks where you get up close and personal with your neighbors.

I was only 1/4 way to the next site when I took this--tons of room!
The county put in a hand-shaped fishing pier that has five fingerlike spokes to allow shore fishing and to double as a boat ramp.  Locals came out fishing in good numbers every evening during the week.

I saw a lot of perch caught from this pier during my stay.

Pelicans cluster at the end of one of the pier "fingers".
If you want access to drinking water at the rec area a little effort IS involved:

The water tasted fine!

No idea what these stakes are for --do the grow grapes in ND?
Often times when I've stayed a few days at a campground I can tell I'm ready to move on but not at this one!  Sweet Briar Rec Area was such a great camping experience I really considered going into town for groceries then coming back, but in the end I called it a successful week and pointed the Tank east again along I-94.  If you travel east or west along I-94 through North Dakota you will thank yourself for taking a few days to camp at this great county park!

Thanks for reading!

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