Lakota, North Dakota

If you’ve driven through North Dakota in the last few years you’ve noticed the large amounts of ponds and small lakes that are slowly taking over many of the farmer’s fields.  These bodies of water typically are free of trees, and when the winds howl, like they do often up in dem parts, the windward side is glossy and the whitecaps build to the downward side.  I’ve often drooled at these kiting opportunities as I’ve driven down Highway 2 heading out west.  10 years ago, Denis Foo Kune, John Pedersen and I explored this area and saw so many options.  We rode ponds and lakes, we rode lake Sakakawea, we camped under the stars.  Surprised it took me this long to return.

and when the winds howl, like they do often up in dem parts, the windward side is glossy and the whitecaps build to the downward side.

I was having a conversation with Ian Strong lately and he said he had ridden a fair bit while in school up in Grand Forks. Judith and I had been looking for a spot in that area to ride, as it was a convenient spot for us to meet up (she’s from Canada).  He recommended a spot west of Grand Forks.  We drove through that area a few weeks ago and checked out the lake.  Many of the roads that came up on our phones that were supposed to provide lake access were completely grown over due to flooding.  There was access on the west side, and since there are no trees around the lake, it works on any wind direction.


The lake, which we call Dead Tree Lake, is definitely not round.  It follows the curvatures of the land and has many bays and islands.  The islands provide great glossy flatwater as the winds whip over the island but block the swell.  The wind is clean due to the flat landscape in that part of country.  The shoreline is mainly sand with occasional rocks.  We did discover a shallow area out in the middle which was sand as well, but there were also some large boulders.

We headed up on a bit of a whim as the forecast was calling for next to nothing for the entire 3 day weekend.  Like me Judith supports the concept that if you believe in something you can bring it into your life.  We both believed the wind would come.  And it did.  We were graced with great winds all day Sunday.  I was lit on my 12m and of course she believed it would blow strong enough for her kite…which is an 8m.  And it did.  Why do we worry about anything?

IMG_1719We camped on the beach and enjoyed the stars at night and the big billowy clouds that marched overhead through the day.  There were quite a few birds that we had never seen before, and coyotes howled through the night.  The place is clearly frequented by hunters most likely in the fall.  Gun shells and a bit of garbage was present, which we did our best to pick up.

Since the land is farmer’s fields we stopped in and asked permission before riding and camping here.  They were stoked by kiters on their lake and Ian and his friends had set a good example previously.   I would encourage anyone who checks out this lake or any similar to do the same.  Since it’s surrounded by fields we were a bit concerned about fertilizer runoff in to the lake.  It didn’t seem to affect us but we took a sample of the lake to get tested just to be sure.

Winds sweep across North Dakota and many times never make it into Minnesota.  I’m going to keep this lake on the radar as a weekend getaway in the dulldrums of summer.


About the author


Tighe Belden has been riding the wind for over 30 years. He has been active in the windsport community for over 3 decades, as an instructor, event coordinator, creator of Lakawa and now End of Session, and stokes people on the latest gear as a Tech Ambassador for Slingshot Sports.