Denbigh Experimental Forest

Denbigh Experimental Forest is located on 640 acres, 13 miles west of Towner, ND on Highway 2.  In addition, there are 115 acres known as the Souris Unit located three miles north of Towner, ND on Highway 14.

Denbigh was established after the 1930s when the Dust Bowl hit McHenry County.  The USDA Forest Service established the Denbigh Experimental Forest in 1931.  Research began to determine what conifer or hardwood trees would survive in the area.  Over the next 20+ years, more than 40 tree species were planted at Denbigh.  In 1983, the Forest Service contracted maintenance and forest management responsibilities to the North Dakota Forest Service.  However, all of these responsibilities were transferred back to the US Forest Service-Dakota Prairie Grasslands in 1998.  Denbigh is now managed by the Sheyenne Ranger District office.

The southwest one-half of Denbigh Experimental Forest was planted to thousands of trees and shrubs between 1931 and 1942, while the remainder was left as natural prairie habitat.  It is used by a variety of grassland birds, prairie butterflies, and wildflowers.  Over 200 bird species have been recorded here, including the yellow-rumped warbler, northern saw-whet owl, sharp-shinned hawk, brown creeper, bald eagle, red-breasted nuthatch, and red crossbill.  For the last 75 years, this area has been left idle leading to tree and shrub encroachment and the invasion of noxious weeds and exotic grasses.  The Dakota Prairie Grasslands is working to restore the native prairie portion through noxious weed treatments, mowing, and prescribed burning.

Associated with the Denbigh Experimental Forest, is the Towner State Nursey which was established in 1935 by the US Forest Service to produce tree seedlings for planting the proposed Souris National Forest.  However, this National Forest, located just north of the Towner Nursery, was never established due to lack of funding.  The nursery was closed in 1942 due to World War II and was re-opened in 1951 by the ND Forest Service who continues to operate it today.  The Towner Nursery produces about 1.25 million tree seedlings per year.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Mountain Biking

Areas for Mountain Biking at Denbigh Experimental Forest

Dispersed Camping

You are welcome to camp anywhere on the Denbigh Experimental Forest, except at designated trailheads.  There are no designated campgrounds. 

When camping with horses, please remember the PACK IT IN, PACK IT OUT rule which refers to cleaning up after your horse(s) as well.  Also remember that feed and straw must be certified as being free of noxious weed seed and stock cannot be tied to trees. 

Camping is limited to 14 consecutive days at any particular location. The term “location” means the occupied undeveloped or developed campsite and the lands within a 5 mile radius. After leaving the location, a minimum of 5 days is required before any group or persons from that group may reoccupy the original location.

Day Hiking

Areas for Day Hiking at Denbigh Experimental Forest

Horse Riding

All forage used on NFS lands must be certified weed seed free.  Here is a list of locations in North Dakota for certified weed seed freed forage.

Areas for Horse Riding at Denbigh Experimental Forest

Big Game Hunting

  • Tree stands are allowed and may be placed for durations consistent with the time periods provided in the ND Game and Fish Deer Hunting Guide (currently Aug. 20 to Jan. 31) .  However, trees must not be damaged by things such as nailing, cutting of limbs, or use of screw in steps or spikes. Stands and steps not removed by January 31, 2017, are considered abandoned property and are subject to removal and confiscation by the Unites States Forest Service. Tree stands left unattended on National Forest System lands require an identification tag displaying the owner's name, address and telephone number.


  • Hunting over bait on National Forest System lands is prohibited. Hunting over bait is defined as the placement and/or use of bait(s) for attracting big game and other wildlife to a specific location for the purpose of hunting. Baits include but are not limited to grains, minerals, salts, fruits, vegetables, hay or other natural or manufactured foods.



Viewing Wildlife

Areas for Viewing Wildlife at Denbigh Experimental Forest

Viewing Plants

Areas for Viewing Plants at Denbigh Experimental Forest

Viewing Scenery

Areas for Viewing Scenery at Denbigh Experimental Forest

Geocaching & Letterboxing

Geocaching and Earth caching are welcome throughout MOST of the Denbigh Experimental Forest.  Geocaches and Earthcaches require approval from the Sheyenne District Ranger prior to the cache being placed.

Geocachers should only attempt hunting for sites according to their experience level. Off-road motorized travel is not allowed on National Grasslands. If a cache is located away from a road, you cannot drive to it.

HOW TO APPLY: Print and Complete the form.

WHERE TO APPLY: Mail the complete form to the Sheyenne Ranger District office with attention to the District Ranger.

Sheyenne Ranger District, P.O. Box 946, Lisbon, ND 58054; 701-683-4342

XC Skiing/Snowshoeing

The Denbigh Experimental Forest can be used for many winter activities including hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or snowmobiling to name a few. 


If you plan to snowmobile please remember the minimum depth of snow required is eight inches.  Snowmobilers are not restricted to designated roads and trails.

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


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