Sullys Hill National Game Preserve is open from 8:00 AM to 9:00 PM throughout the summer. The Visitor Center will be open in August on Tuesdays-Saturdays from 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM and Sundays from Noon- 4:00 PM.
Visitors are advised to contact 701-766-4272 for a prerecorded message with construction and hours of operation updates or for more information.
Sullys Hill is located on the south shore of Devils Lake in Benson County. The preserve consists of 1,674 acres ranging from prairie to forested hills and is home to a wide assortment of wildlife including migratory birds, bison, elk, and prairie dogs.
President Theodore Roosevelt designated Sullys Hill originally as a National Park in 1904. In 1917 and 1918, elk, bison and white-tailed deer were reintroduced to Sullys Hill. These large herbivores had been eliminated from the area during settlement due to over-hunting. On March 3, 1931, Congress transferred Sullys Hill to the National Wildlife Refuge System where it would be maintained as a "big game preserve, refuge and breeding grounds for wild animals and birds.".
Wildlife of Sullys Hill
Bison: 60 million bison once roamed the North American continent until the late 1800s. Commercial hunting reduced their numbers to as little as 60 animals. The bison is a symbol of historical significance in westward expansion and Native American culture. In an effort to preserve this legendary species, Sullys Hill established its herd in 1918 from six bison brought in from a Portland, Oregon zoo. The herd today includes 19 bison.
Rocky Mountain Elk: Elk were eliminated from much of their former range due to habitat loss and over-hunting in the early 1900s. In 1917, fifteen elk were transported from Yellowstone National Park to Sullys Hill. The elk is the second largest member of the deer family. The elk herd contains 17-25 animals to ensure sufficient forage. Listen for bull elk bugling to attract a harem of female cows in the autumn.
Prairie Dogs: A colony of black-tailed prairie dogs was introduced to Sullys Hill in 1975 to help educate the public about these unique rodents. Prairie dogs live within “towns" consisting of elaborate systems of underground tunnels and dens. Members of the town keep a watch out for predators, such as hawks, and let out a warning bark to other members when danger is present.
Other Wildlife: The preserve's wildlife community contains many other species including white-tailed deer, coyote, fisher, red fox, raccoon, skunk, weasel, mink, beaver, rabbit, waterfowl, and wild turkey. More than 250 species of birds have been observed at Sullys Hill.
Auto Tour: Visitors may watch for wildlife along the four mile auto tour route through prairie, forest, and wetlands from approximately May to October depending on weather conditions. The route is maintained to the Visitor Center and trailhead throughout the year. The auto tour route includes several stops featuring spectacular views of the area. The Devils Lake Vista Overlook is handicapped accessible.
Admission is $2.00 per vehicle. Annual passes are available for $12.00. All fee monies help Sullys Hill improve visitor services and conduct educational programs. Visitors with America the Beautiful (Annual, Senior, Access, and Volunteer) Passes and Federal Duck Stamps are able to enter without charge.
Trails: Visitors may start a two mile hiking trail along Sweetwater Lake or a 2,000 foot long, paved, wheelchair-accessible trail with an overlook of Fort Totten Bay from the trailhead near the Visitor Center. Both trails feature interpretive signs to help you learn about the plants and animals you are likely to discover.
Photography: Every season provides a unique opportunity for visitors to photograph a wide assortment of wildlife in their natural habitat.
Bird-watching: Bird-watching is a popular activity at Sullys Hill in all seasons. Many species not normally found in the open prairie areas of the state may be found in the forested areas of the preserve. Birders may obtain checklists at the Visitor Center.
Education and Interpretive Opportunities
Sullys Hill Visitor Center: The Visitor Center is an excellent location to start your experience containing a staffed book store, an exhibit hall, and a hallway featuring professional photographs of North Dakota waterfowl. The new North Dakota Habitat Display features dozens of mounted animals in prairie, wetland, forest, and agriculture habitats. Each habitat includes a short video to introduce visitors to the plants and animals that reside there. A full size elk mount is the center piece of the display.
A wall of windows overlooks the Birding Garden. Visitors may take a rest in one of our comfortable easy chairs while watching dozens of species of birds that visit the feeders and native plants outside. Antler and horn displays from bison, elk and white-tailed deer and a 180-gallon aquarium containing bluegill, perch, and walleye round off the experience. The Visitor Center is open seasonally.
Special Events: Sullys Hill offers a variety of public workshops, guided nature hikes, bird-watching walks, summer youth programs and conservation programs throughout the year. Visit the Friends of Sullys Hill website at www.sullyshill.org for an updated calendar of events.
Regional Conservation Learning Center: The Sullys Hill Visitor Center offers two state-of-the-art classrooms available by reservation for use by schools and other groups. Sullys Hill staff work with school groups of all grade levels to meet curriculum requirements. A wide assortment of educational materials and resources are available for use by education groups while on site. Sullys Hill provides numerous opportunities for hands-on learning that is fun all ages.
Special Use Programs: School groups, youth groups, and other education-related groups may request an outdoor education program at no charge. Community groups and businesses may reserve a meeting room at Sullys Hill for a $50.00 per day fee. This fee includes an outdoor education program.
Please call Sullys Hill at (701) 766-4272 for more information including an updated message featuring hours and availability. Thank you for your interest in Sullys Hill National Game Preserve!