You can spend an entire day exploring Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park in Mandan, North Dakota. So much hands on history and great tours are available throughout the day. These are my top five things to do for the day in Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park.
Fort Abraham Lincoln Infantry Post
As you drive toward the back of the park, don’t miss heading up the hill to the Fort Abraham Lincoln Infantry Post. These large buildings stand alone in the field as they seem to still be keeping watch for the enemy. Two of the buildings are open for you to climb all the way to the top and get an amazing view of all of the park. Or if you look the other way, you can see Bismarck and Mandan. It’s a cool combination of being in history but seeing the modern.
Fort Abraham Lincoln Custer House
You must do the guided tour of the Custer House. It takes you back in time to the year 1875. My tour guide was a soldier dressed for the part. He did a fabulous job of keeping us in that year. It was fun.
The actual house burned down so this is a replica, but some of the things survived. They still have those originals in this house. The tour is very entertaining and lasts about 45 minutes.
On-A-Slant Indian Village
There was an agricultural Indian tribe that lived in Mandan, North Dakota. They were the Mandan and lived in Slant (or On-a-Slant) Indian Village called that because they literally lived on sloping land. There were about 75 earth lodges like the ones in the picture below.
You could go inside each of the earth lodges. I took a guided tour led by a park ranger that told us all about the way of life of the Indian Village. He showed us tools that they made and used. Even toys that the kids would play with. And he was very helpful in answering any questions. I recommend the guided tour that starts at the visitor center.
The On a Slant Indian Village was located here from around 1650-1750. The knowledge of the park ranger is something you should take advantage of and ask questions about the history during your tour. It gives you a real sense of what it must have been like to live in these earth lodges all those years ago.
The Visitor Center
The visitor center is a must stop. They have a room full of interesting artifacts. Some of which you can touch. Kids will love it. The Park Rangers here are very helpful with any questions you might have as well. This is also where the On a Slant Indian village guided tour starts AND this is where the restrooms are located.
Located close to the Custer House is the Calvary barracks. This is where the soldiers lived while stationed at Fort Abraham Lincoln. They have them set up to resemble what it would have been like for the soldiers back in 1870’s.
That’s it! There were other buildings like a stable. There is also a place to get some snacks and drinks. You could spend many hours of your day at Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park if you enjoy learning about American history and being outdoors in a beautiful setting. I think it is one of the most interesting State Parks I have been to yet.