The summer was coming to an end and Hunter was about to start Kindergarten, we were looking for some fun and exciting ways to spend our last week at home together when I thought of taking the kids to Grahams Island State Park. I recently heard the road construction to pave the road out to the island was finished so on August 23rd, 2012 the kids and I packed up some stuff and hopped in the car and made the 20 minute trip out to the state park. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Grahams Island State park, it’s a 1,222 acre park located on Grahams Island of Devils Lake, North Dakota. You can view additional information about the park and it’s history at: http://www.parkrec.nd.gov/parks/gisp/gisp.html.
I had been there a few times for a fishing tournament and a wedding but had never really explored the park. The drive out to the park was really nice now that the highway is all paved. The kids enjoyed looking at the lake on both sides of the car.
Once we got there we stopped in at the bait shop to pay our $5.00 entry fee. The kids and I asked the park ranger what were some things to do with small kids. She gave us a map and marked up some things she thought would be fun for the kids and we made our plan to visit all three play grounds, take a small hike and see the beach. August 23rd was a Thursday and besides from a few campers at the campground we literally had the park all by ourselves which was pretty cool.
Below is a picture taken of the map that I borrowed from the North Dakota Parks and Rec website (http://www.parkrec.nd.gov/maps/parks/gisp_main_map.pdf) that outlines our route in the park.
Playgrounds. Playground number one was the largest and most updated. The kids enjoyed the slides and drums at that playground but there were quite a few spider webs everywhere which Hunter was a little hesitant of.
We then hopped in the car and drove over to the next playground. Hunter had been to this playground before during the Chamber fishing tournament weigh in and was excited to slide down the pole but they didn’t last too long at the playground when they were ready for a snack. We left pretty last minute so we just had small snacks and a water bottle for each kid.
Playground number three is close to the entrance of the park and the last one we stopped at after the beach. This playground was really small but the kids loved the sand diggers and teeter totter. There were also some basketball courts and Hunter was excited to bring a basketball next time.
This park had the best photo opportunities because it was right on the lake and there was some washed up trees on the shore that looked pretty cool. The lake view from here was awesome! If I didn’t have the three kids it would be a great place to relax with a book.
Hiking. The kids only played at the second playground for a little while longer when we decided to take all the snack stuff back to the car and start out on our first hike. The kids were really excited to go on the hike, especially Hunter. The trail was a grass path that was really wide as you can see in the pictures below so I thought the kids would enjoy it. The girls only made it about 100 yards down the trail before they wanted to be carried and since I was by myself with them there was no way that was happening. They both sat down on the trail and weren’t going any further so we turned around and went back to the car. Hunter was pretty upset that we couldn’t do more of the hike but I told him next time we will bring daddy and we will hike further.
Beach Area. I had no idea there was a beach area on the island since the water rises so often, we didn’t even bring our swimming stuff. The kids wanted to get out of the car and check out the water so I parked right by the beach area and we headed over there. At first they started just throwing rocks in the water and pretty soon they wanted their shoes off and were standing in the water and soon enough they were pretty much swimming in the water. Good thing I had extra clothes for them. The beach area is really small and really rocky with only one picnic table but the kids didn’t care. This was probably their favorite part of the park because they love the water so much. I taught Hunter how to skip stones and he took to it really well and was skipping them up to three times. The kids didn’t want to leave the beach area but it was getting close to lunch time and we didn’t pack a lunch and we still had one more park to go to which I bribed them with and the promise of bringing our swimming stuff next time to get them back in the car.
The kids had so much fun at the park and we will definitely be spending some more time there next summer. It was such a great way to spend a morning outside exploring the park. We are looking forward to spending whole days there with picnics and riding our bikes instead of having to get in and out of the car to see each area.