Dickinson offers parks, lakes, even a dike, for summer fun

For anyone already planning their summer activities, Dickinson has 25 parks, Patterson Lake, and a dike near Heart River Retreat. "We have different options within the park district, whether its parks or the trails in the parks and the different ...

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For anyone already planning their summer activities, Dickinson has 25 parks, Patterson Lake, and a dike near Heart River Retreat.

"We have different options within the park district, whether its parks or the trails in the parks and the different facilities we have," said Matt Mack, Parks & Recreation recreation/facilities director. "For the size of the community, we really do have a well-rounded number of options for recreation."

There's great value in having so many parks readily available throughout Dickinson.

"It's a place for families to go and get outside, and spend some time together," Mack said. "Have the little ones run some energy off on our equipment, and just to have that outdoor option for people to recreate."

The Parks & Recreation Department works to best facilitate that outdoor option.


"Right now, a lot of people really enjoy being able to go outside," Mack said. "The winter months get long and once the spring comes around you see more people outside, wanting to get out. Having 25 parks throughout Dickinson really probably helps with that."

For Parks & Rec, maintaining those areas is easily handled.

"(Our teams) have a regular mowing schedule," Mack said. "They also check and make sure everything on the equipment side is working properly and safely. They've got a program put together so they're inspecting equipment and regularly maintaining those parks."

Mack holds Dickinson's parks in highest regard.

"Our crew does a really good job of keeping up the parks," he said. "If you compare (our parks) to other park districts, I'd say we're up there with some of the best parks we have to offer in North Dakota."

He added, "I'm proud of what we offer to the public."

Patterson Lake is one of the city's most popular draws for outdoor activities.

Parks & Rec manages the land around the lake, while the Bureau of Reclamation owns the lake itself.


"On the south side of the lake, where those cabins and houses are currently, we also manage that portion of it," Mack said.

Dickinson Parks & Rec is also in charge of recreation and facilities there.

Patterson Lake boasts a beach, the Crooked Crane Trail, camping, and parks.

"Since the Crooked Crane Trail was constructed out there, we've had a lot more traffic, with people coming out and using that trail," Mack said. "That was a really nice addition."

That traffic generally arrives with late spring and early summer.

"That's when they want to use the water and get out on the water, and start their fishing and recreational activities, whether its water skiing or tubing," Mack said.

Proposed legislation will soon turn over the land around Patterson Lake to the park district, Mack explained.

"That could change how we do some things out there," he said. "Right now, we have to work with the Bureau of Reclamation and get things approved before we move forward. Once that land is turned over to us, if that bill goes through, that will change that whole process."


The city also has Dickinson Dike for outdoors activities.

The dike is basically water from Patterson Lake held in a separate area south of the lake, near Heart River Retreat.

"It's 25 feet deep, at the deepest portion of it, and it's stocked with different fish," Mack said.

The site is mainly used for fishing rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, and small bluegill.

"There's different benches located around the outside of the dike," Mack said. "If you went out there on a normal summer day, you'd see most people fishing out there."

While the dike doesn't receive many swimmers, it does also host kayaks and canoes.

"It's just a little more isolated and less prone to weather elements," Mack said. "It's maybe not as choppy if it's a windy day."

The dike is used for public events during the summer. The department only facilitates the events, though.

It is the location of the annual kids fishing derby held every summer, among others.

Activities planning starts even before warmer weather comes with spring.

"Spring is always so unpredictable," Mack said. "We might have snow on the ground until May. There's been years where it's been March where we've had stuff. Right after January we kick things into gear and make sure we're preparing for the summer."

For more information about Dickinson's offerings, visit .

Related Topics: PATTERSON LAKE
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