This sign greets visitors near the water at the Parshall Bay Recreation Area. Although Lake Sakakawea is low this year, access to the water is no problem at the Recreation Area boat ramp.
PARSHALL - Sure, higher water would be nice but visitors to Lake Sakakawea have become accustomed to changing water levels.
There's plenty of open shoreline visible between the high water mark and the current water level at the Parshall Bay Recreation Area. Nevertheless, the boat ramp there is one of the finest on the lake and is certain to be popular this summer.
Ice out was late on Lake Sakakawea this year. Very late. The third latest in recorded history. But now the lake is ice free and open for business.
"Its been a real different year this year. Its been cold," said Barbara Knudson, manager of the Parshall Bay Recreation Area.
Some Parshall Bay area water went from ice covered to rapid warming in a matter of a few hours. Water temperatures in some places on the lake were well over 50 degrees and climbing earlier this week. It was a stunning reversal in a year when it seemed the ice may stay forever.
"We'd like to see the lake up a whole lot but this looks like this is about it," remarked Knudson when asked about the water level of Lake Sakakawea. "This ramp we're on is probably the only ramp that we are going to be using this year."
The ramp referred to by Knudson is known as Parshall Bay's low water ramp. Really though it has been used extensively in the past. It is one of the widest and user friendly ramps on the lake. There is ample parking for tow vehicles, too.
The ramp at the nearby Parshall Bay Recreation Area Campground likely won't be used this summer. Unfortunately, low water has caused the bay that ramp is located in to be sealed off from the main lake. However, fishermen eager to try their luck in catching Parshall Bay's legendary walleyes are accustomed to using the large low water ramp located less than a mile away.
"I expect a busy summer," said Knudson. "We have a full-service bathhouse and full-service sites. We're putting in 12 new electrical sites in the camp. Long-term has become very popular. They are all taken for the season."
The addition of 12 new electrical service sites brings the total number of sites in the campground to 72. Twenty-three of the sites are long-term. The remaining 49 are available throughout the summer. In addition, the campground boasts 20 or more sites designated as primitive camping.
"People come here in the summer for a lot of reasons," said Knudson. "We have some regulars. Some that come to enjoy the outdoors, the sunshine, play in the water and have a bonfire. It has become a very popular area."
Knudson said she expects to experience another busy summer.
"There's pavement all the way to the campground. Fishing is good and the camping is always going to be good," said Knudson.
The campground's official opening day was May 15.