Why You Should Visit
Cross Ranch is located along the only free-flowing section of the Missouri River in North Dakota. The river is bordered by some of the most extensive floodplain forests left in the state. Farther away from the river are uplands that are covered by mixed-grass prairie that is similar to what was viewed by Lewis and Clark when the Corps of Discovery passed through the area in 1804. Although the natural flow of the river has been greatly altered by the operation of Lake Sakakawea, several endangered species are found in the river and along its banks. Least terns, piping plovers and fall-migrating whooping cranes still use the sandbars in the river, Pallid sturgeon cruise its channels and bald eagles fish the waters.
Cross Ranch is located adjacent to Cross Ranch State Park about 30 miles north of Mandan or about seven miles south of Washburn. It is situated on the west bank of the Missouri River and the adjacent hills.
The total size of Cross Ranch is 5,593 acres, 4,953 of which are owned by TNC. The ranch is broken into three main units. The 1,840-acre north unit is located on the banks of the Missouri River and borders Cross Ranch State Park. The central unit consists of 2,300 acres and is located in the Missouri River hills above the floodplain. The south unit is 1,440 acres in size, also located in the Missouri River hills, and is about three miles south of the central unit.
Why TNC Selected This Site
Initially, the riparian cottonwood forests along one of the few free-flowing stretches of the Missouri River in North Dakota was the feature that was of most scientific interest. Later the significance of the mixed grass prairie system within one of the largest untilled landscapes in central North Dakota was also recognized.