North Dakota : Safety by City
- Devils Lake
- Fort Ransom
- Grand Forks
- Valley City
- West Fargo
Surrounded by the picturesque Sheyenne River Valley of North Dakota, Fort Ransom is a treasure trove of outdoor adventures.
Founded in the late 19th century, Fort Ransom owes its existence to the foresight of early settlers who established it as a trading post along the Fort Ransom Military Trail.
Remarkably, unlike many towns of its time, Fort Ransom thrived without the aid of a nearby railroad, a testament to the resilience and resourcefulness of its inhabitants.
What truly sets this region apart is its natural beauty.
The Sheyenne River winds gracefully through the valley, offering kayaking and fishing opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts.
The surrounding Sheyenne National Grassland boasts a diverse range of flora and fauna, making it a haven for birdwatchers and nature lovers.
There’s also that mysterious pyramid of dirt, with a debatable answer about how it got there.
The town has fewer than 100 residents but offers plenty for travel with historic sites, a state park, federal grasslands, and river activities year-round.
Warnings & Dangers in Fort Ransom
OVERALL RISK: LOW
There's a low risk in Fort Ransom, but plenty of things to do in the great outdoors. Just be sure you know seasonal and recreational safety practices.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
You'll be on your own here, so rent a car at your airport. No buses or on-demand rides reach this far. The risk is low, but you can always download the 511 ND app to get road condition updates before you travel.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
This is a low risk, with none reported in the past 23 years. However, you should avoid leaving anything valuable in plain sight at a campsite or in your car. A low risk doesn't mean no risk.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
This is the only medium risk of this group because of the year-round potential. Spring brings severe storms capable of producing tornadoes, flash flooding, and damaging winds. River flooding is possible, and wildfires can cause evacuations or impact air quality. Winter is tough with blizzards, snow storms, ice storms, and dangerously low wind chills.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
This shouldn't be a concern. In fact, people here are more likely to tell you that you dropped something than take something from you.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
Another low risk for this rural community surrounded by remote wilderness. You will see people with guns here, especially during hunting season.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
Scams aren't a concern here, and any that do happen are likely targeting residents. You can always review the Better Business Bureau website for scams happening across the state and country before your visit.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
Another low risk here, but you'll need to be outdoorsy to even hope to have a good time. There's not a lot close by either, so stop for supplies, groceries, and other necessities before you get to Fort Ransom.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
The tap water (where available) is safe to drink, and any concern about the quality would be posted at the entrance to your hotel, park, or campsite. Do not drink water from the river or streams without filtering it first.
Safest Places to Visit in Fort Ransom
Fort Ransom doesn’t really have much to offer outside a handful of things to do, but they are all safe.
You can find tourism information on the Visit North Dakota or Ransom County North Dakota website.
If you’re using the state guide, look for events or activities in Elliott, Enderlin, Englevale, Lisbon, McLeod, or Sheldon.
Those are other Ransom County cities.
Of course, the big highlight here is the Fort Ransom State Park.
It was once a fort in the woods and now covers nearly 1,000 acres.
A section of the North Country Trail that spans all the way to the East Coast runs through the park.
The rest of the park offers the basics–fishing, kayaking, swimming, hiking, horseback riding, and wildlife viewing.
You can choose to explore the park by car and beyond by taking the Sheyenne River Valley National Scenic Byway.
While there’s a lot of open space in North Dakota, the byway offers rolling hills lush with trees.
A fall drive on this route is ideal.
Sometimes, it’s hard to tell you about a place to visit without giving away the excitement of visiting.
That’s the case with Pyramid Hill in Fort Ransom.
How did that hill get there?
You can find out by visiting the location just northwest of the town center.
You should also put Fort Ransom Historic Site on your itinerary.
It’s not the same as the state park.
The fort no longer exists, at least not in this location.
Find out where it was taken to when you visit!
Thrill Hills is a seasonal ski resort with sledding and skiing options.
You can also go tubing.
Don’t worry about bringing snow boots or skis; they rent them out here.
For maximum safety, spring for the helmet rental.
Sheyenne River State Forest is to the south of Fort Ransom, with more water access, waterfalls, and hiking trails to explore.
A little further southeast, you’ll visit the Sheyenne National Grassland.
The park is a mix of grass, sand dunes, and gentle hills.
Be sure to soak in the view at the Old Fire Lookout Tower.
Places to Avoid in Fort Ransom
There aren’t dangerous parts of town or neighborhoods to avoid.
It’s far too safe and small of a town for that to be a concern.
However, if you’re looking for a small town with amenities with stores lining Main Street and several dining options, this might be TOO small for you.
For example, there isn’t a grocery store in Fort Ransom.
Other than that, if you don’t love winter–and I mean cold as the Arctic Tundra cold–you might want to avoid the entire state of North Dakota.
Possibly South Dakota, too, at least until spring.
Just avoid packing too light for winter conditions.
Also, North Dakota gets a lot of winds. From dangerous “move your tent for you” winds to annoying “I keep getting dirt in my eye” winds, it’s almost a constant blow in your face or to your back.
I live in the Plains, so I can honestly say the most annoying part of the weather is the winds.
I’m actually writing this on the first beautiful day we’ve had in a while, but gusts are sustained at 20 miles per hour which is just annoying when I’m trying to walk the dogs in the woods.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Fort Ransom
- Fort Ransom does not have its own police department. You’ll get law enforcement from the Ransom County Sheriff and the state park rangers. You can follow the Sheriff’s Department on social media; they update Facebook most often. The non-emergency number is 1-800-472-2121.
- The Ransom County Sheriff’s Office isn’t that big, and you’ll need to report any crime or concern to one phone number – (701)683-5255.
- If you have specific questions about the state park wilderness, wildlife, or safety guides, call (701) 973-4331. The Facebook page is @prdfrsp if you want to follow along, too.
- Anglers need a fishing license from the North Dakota Department of Fish & Game. It’s easy to get a fishing license, and everyone over 15 years of age is required to have one.
- While you’re on the Fish & Game website, look at the hunting guide if that’s on your itinerary. The hunting license comes with a lot more rules and regulations. You might need to take a safety class before you arrive.
- You won’t need to worry about lugging some outdoor gear to Fort Ranson. The state park offers cross-country skis and kayak rentals (with a life vest). They’ll even transport your kayak for you. Using these services also gives you time with the park workers to ask about recent safety risks or trail hazards.
- Sign up for emergency notifications through the CodeRED system. This provides emergency weather alerts and other safety concerns to your mobile device. You can choose texts, phone calls, or emails. The service is free.
- Bring a NOAA weather radio with you if you’re camping. Mobile service will be spotty, and you can’t afford to miss this important information. The radios do require programming, and you can get that channel information on the Fargo National Weather Service website.
- Do not feed any wildlife in this region. Not a bird, buffalo, or bossy squirrel. It’s against the law and can hurt the animals in more ways than the average tourist realizes. Of course, feeding a buffalo brings its own set of challenges, anyway. Keep 50 yards away from any wildlife.
- Fourth of July week is a big deal here with a parade, rodeo, and craft show. If that’s when you’re visiting, book hotels, cabins, yurts, or campgrounds as early as possible. Otherwise, you might have to drive from nearby communities or even Fargo.
So... How Safe Is Fort Ransom Really?
Fort Ransom is a safe place, with fewer than three violent crimes in a year on average going back to 2000.
The most in one year was six, and that was in 2016.
Since then, no more than three violent crimes have happened in a year.
Theft isn’t an issue here either, though there are a handful of reports about car break-ins and property theft looking at five-year trends.
While you’d expect a low crime rate in a town this small, it’s exceptionally safe, given the number of people who come through the area to visit the park.
That leaves the real risks to the weather, wilderness, and wildlife.
In a tragic story from 2019, a couple was kayaking on the river here.
The kayak flipped over, and only one of the people could make it to safety.
The other person passed away.
She wasn’t wearing a life vest.
I preach about life vest safety a lot because it has saved me many times, especially when kayaking in unfamiliar waters.
The same goes for lightning risks, flash flooding, blizzards, etc.
I don’t want to beat the topic to death, but your safety in Fort Ranson is largely in your own hands through common sense, situational awareness, and safety education.
But if you’re the type of person who will try to pet a buffalo, you’re at a much higher risk than.
How Does Fort Ransom Compare?
|New York City||67|
|Phnom Penh (Cambodia)||61|
|Niagara Falls (Canada)||87|
|Buenos Aires (Argentina)||60|
International visitors have two things they need to get into the U.S.–a valid passport and a visa. You might qualify for a visa waiver, but you'll need to check the U.S. State Department website for that information. Use the Visa Wizard module to get started on the right path.
Only the U.S. Dollar can be used here, and please don't wait until you get to Fort Ransom to get that cash. This is a town so small you'd be better off bartering than trying to exchange currency. You can use your home bank for this task, and you'll get the lowest rates.
You'll get four seasons here, but err on the side of cold. Winters are harsh; even North Dakotans will admit to that. Don't think a regular coat and gloves will suffice. Summers are mild to warm, but you also face the risk of ticks and mosquitoes, so bring bug spray, netting, and long-sleeved (but light fabric) clothing.
Hector International Airport in Fargo is the closest commercial airport. It's about 90 minutes away.
Travel insurance is important when visiting a place with so many weather risks. You should have insurance on your flight as much as your rental car since you'll be on the road a lot.
Fort Ransom Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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North Dakota - Safety by City