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One of the best spots for water recreation in North Dakota's North Central region is Lake Metigoshe. Often called the 'Jewel of the Turtle Mountains', the 1500-acre lake extends into Manitoba, Canada with the top portion home to many Canadian lakelubbers. Lake Metigoshe is a natural lake, created by the last Wisconsin glacier at least 10,000 years ago. Surrounded by many smaller lakes, the name comes from the Chippewa word, "Metigoshe Washegum", meaning 'clear lake surrounded by many oaks'. The lake hosts about 900 cottages and homes along its 28 miles of shoreline.
Lucky lake dwellers take advantage of the wide expanse of water to enjoy sailing, waterskiing, tubing, wakeboarding and pontooning. The irregular shoreline creates many coves, bays and small inlets perfect for canoeing and kayaking. Thee is no full-service marina on the lake, but a small marine service business sells supplies and handles boat repairs. Many homes sit high above the water on bluffs around the lake, safely above the flooding that occasionally occurs. Lake Metigoshe is located in an area with high annual rainfall and is sometimes inundated with waters from the surrounding lakes and streams. A small water control dam at the Oak Creek inlet attempts to control for flooding but is not always successful. The Lake Metigoshe Improvement Association works to keep lake residents informed, monitor water levels and quality issues, and sponsors lake community events throughout the year. A local waterski club performs on the lake several times each year.
Lake Metigoshe is naturally divided into two lake basins and connected at what are locally called The Narrows. Lake Metigoshe State Park includes much of the eastern shoreline of the north basin, stretching as far north as the international border. Turtle Mountain Provincial Park abuts the state park on the other side of the international border. The popular park includes a swimming beach, tent and RV camping, showers, RV dump site, playground, picnic area and shelters. A few cabins and a yurt are available for rental near the north end of the park. A separate group camping area offers a kitchen, dining hall, dormitory and other amenities. Some of the facilities were originally constructed to house workers funded by the Federal Emergency Relief Administration and used as labor on federal work projects in the early 1930s. Lake Metigoshe Outdoor Learning Center provides group instruction in conservation, ecology and recreational activities during the summer months for a small fee. Two other picnic areas are also available at Lake Metigoshe.
A number of trails within the park are available to walkers, with some allowing mountain bikes. Old Oak Trail, a National Recreation Trail, is part of the trail system. The park office rents snowshoes and skis for cross-country skiing and arranges for canoe rentals. Some of the cabins are available for rental year round. Wildlife is plentiful in the area, with white-tail deer, muskrat, beaver, squirrel, mink and even an occasional moose seen. A large number of waterfowl utilize Lake Metigoshe and surrounding lakes and ponds. Most of the smaller lakes in the park allow kayaking but do not permit motorized boats. A boat launch is available within the state park with at least two other boat ramps and a fishing pier provided on other parts of the long shoreline.
Fishing is good on Lake Metigoshe, with northern pike, walleye, bluegill, crappie and yellow perch the main catch. Ice fishing is popular; the lake's islands and irregular shoreline offer a variety of fish habitat. Many of the fish grow to good size. This is snowmobile country and several snowmobile trails meander around the lake, including one to the International Peace Gardens about 3.5 trail-miles away. The park's trails connect to over 250 miles of snowmobile trails in the Turtle Mountain area. Turtle Mountain Scenic Byway skirts the south end of the lake as it tours over 50 miles of this scenic area and its many points of interest. Near Bottineau, a local downhill ski area offers skiing, snowboarding and sledding.
Visitors who prefer more luxurious lodgings are in luck at Lake Metigoshe. A modern hotel and at least one resort offer lodgings directly on the water. Private vacation home rentals can be found, and there are guest houses and motels in the surrounding area. The nearest town is Bottineau, about 12 miles south of the lake. Bottineau offers most services and general shopping, while convenience stores and gas stations along the lakeshore can fill most 'quick-trip' shopping lists for items such as ice and snack foods.
No visit to the Lake Metigoshe area would be complete without spending some time at the International Peace Garden just a few miles away. This international venue showcases several unique garden and floral features, a conservatory with many exotic blooms, a restaurant and more. Of particular interest among the many displays at the Gardens are the Game Warden Museum, with displays of animal pelts and mounted native fur-bearing animals. A 9-11 Memorial honors the victims of that terrible event with some of the girders taken from the wreckage of the World Trade Center. A Bell Tower plays chimes that can be heard faintly throughout the Gardens, and a Sunken Garden offers interesting water features. Visitors should remember that the International Peace Garden is partially located in Canada, and all visitors should carry proper identification due to border regulations.
Real estate can be found along Lake Metigoshe including the occasional building lot. Lake Metigoshe is a true community where many of the neighbors have lived for generations. It's a great place to make memories and the perfect spot to practice waterskiing or fishing. Winter is nearly as busy as summer, and snow sports are a big drawing card for winter visitors. No matter what your interests, nearly anything water-based can be enjoyed at Lake Metigoshe.
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