Kenmare ND - Des Lacs NWR Scenic Backway

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Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge Scenic Backway

Total distance: 13.5 miles. Found in the northwest corner of North Dakota, this backway provides excellent opportunities to view the rolling hills and wooded draws of the Des Lacs Valley. The most striking experience is the excellent wildlife viewing opportunities found at the refuge. Over 250 species of birds have been seen here and they include waterfowl, raptors and many other migratory birds. Deer, moose, and other wildlife are also seen along this route.


Begins at US Highway 52, 6 miles south of Kenmare and continues to the north end of the refuge where it terminates at the intersection of Ward County Road 1.

Points of Interest

  • Historic Danish Mill-The Danish Mill was built in 1902 on a homestead, 11 miles north of Kenmare. It was used by area farmers for grinding grains into flour. In 1959 the Mill was moved into the City of Kenmare and its restoration completed in 1961. In 1965 the mill was moved to the center of the Park on the Square and given a face lift in 1996. The Park on the Square has beautiful trees, flowers, and benches to enjoy.
  • Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center-The visitor center at Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters features displays of local history and native wildlife. Photos by E.H. Gross and mounts of wildlife common to the area are some of the displays.
  • Five species of nesting grebes can be seen from the scenic backway. Spectacular courtship displays by Western grebes are easily viewed and nests of eared and horned grebes are common. The more solitary nesting pied-billed and red-necked grebes can also be found with patience and binoculars.
  • Munch's Coulee National Recreation Trail-From this trail, excellent bird watching opportunities abound. The upland portion of the trail is one of the best places on the refuge to view native wildflowers and upland birds. The upland portion of the trail as it returns to the parking area allows visitors a spectacular view of Lower Des Lacs Lake. Four benches provide resting areas along the entire trail route.
  • Click here to view all 10 of North Dakota's Scenic Byways