Winterfest at Cross Ranch

Enjoying winter activities

Kim Fundingsland/MDN  A mother and daughter are about to venture forth on a kicksled at Cross Ranch State Park as part of their Winterfest activities.

CROSS RANCH STATE PARK – It was cold. Fifteen degrees below zero cold. But that didn’t bring a halt to the Winterfest activities here. Despite the frigid thermometer readings, people young and old discovered some good old fashioned winter fun.

“The cold might knock our numbers down a little bit but there’s still people out here staying in our yurts and cabins,” said Eric Dietrich, park ranger. “We’ve already had a few people check out the kicksleds and fat tire bikes. It’s cold, but North Dakotans are tough.”

The sub-zero temps meant some revision for the park’s Winterfest schedule, but certainly didn’t curtail the enjoyment opportunities for those who ventured outdoors. Among them was Carmen and Dale Repnow of Mandan.

“We’ve come to Cross Ranch the last couple of years just for Valentine’s Day,” said Dale Repnow. “We wanted to share a moment together.”

“And hopefully have some hot chocolate to keep warm,” laughed Carmen Repnow. “Winter is winter. You have to embrace it. We’re here to have fun.”

Kim Fundingsland/MDN Dressed for the weather and enjoying a winter walk are Carmen and and Dale Repnow, Mandan.

The Repnow’s were staying the weekend in one of the park’s heated yurts. The park’s yurts and cabins, nestled among the tall cottonwoods flanking the nearby Missouri River, are in high demand year round, especially in the winter.

“Those have been really popular with people wanting to get out,” said Eric Lang, park manager. “I think the word is getting out on Cross Ranch. I’ve been seeing a lot of faces we’ve never seen before.”

The Cross Ranch occupies a unique place among State Parks. It is situated along historic riverbottom land that offers natural protection from prevailing winds.

“We have a great wind break here, kind of down in a bowl,” remarked Lang. “You can really enjoy nature in the winter.”

Enjoying a winter day, no matter what the temperature, was very much on the mind of Katie Mitchell of Bismarck. She attended Winterfest at the park with her four year old daughter Marciana. It wasn’t their first visit to Cross Ranch.

Kim Fundingsland/MDN A warm fire in the Cross Ranch State Park Visitors Center is a reason to smile for 5-year-old Alice Rixen of Bismarck. At left is her sister, Eloise, 7.

“We’ve been here many times but have not been up here in the winter,” explained Katie Mitchell. “We thought we’d come up and find out what Winterfest is all about.”

Enjoying some “warm up” time inside the park’s Visitors Center was the Rixens from Bismarck. They were staying in the park’s Pretty Point yurt and were looking forward to participating in Winterfest fun.

“The yurt is so much fun and it just happens they are having special events today,” said Sarah Rixen. “The kids have a loft to play in. We made cookies today. It’s just fun.”

The kids were Eloise, 7, and Alice, 5. Their grandmother made the trip to Cross Ranch too to be part of Winterfest.

“Home or here, so we’re getting out of town and enjoying the weather a little bit, even if it is cold,” remarked Sarah Rixen. “We can handle it.”


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