Wild Rice River (North Dakota)

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Wild Rice River
Wild Rice River North Dakota.jpg
The Wild Rice River near Abercrombie in 2007
The Red River drainage basin, with the Wild Rice Rivers of North Dakota and Minnesota highlighted
CountryUnited States
StateNorth Dakota
Physical characteristics
 - locationBrampton Township, Sargent County
 - coordinates46°00′56″N 97°47′08″W / 46.01556°N 97.78556°W / 46.01556; -97.78556[2]
 - elevation1,283 ft (391 m)[1]
MouthRed River of the North
 - location
near Frontier, Cass County
 - coordinates
46°45′24″N 96°47′24″W / 46.75667°N 96.79000°W / 46.75667; -96.79000Coordinates: 46°45′24″N 96°47′24″W / 46.75667°N 96.79000°W / 46.75667; -96.79000[2]
 - elevation
879 ft (268 m)[1]
Length251 mi (404 km)[3]
Basin size2,233 sq mi (5,780 km2)[5]
 - locationnear Abercrombie[4]
 - average104 cu ft/s (2.9 m3/s)[4]
 - minimum0 cu ft/s (0 m3/s)
 - maximum9,540 cu ft/s (270 m3/s)
 - locationnear Rutland[6]
 - average8.36 cu ft/s (0.237 m3/s)[6]

The Wild Rice River is a tributary of the Red River of the North, approximately 251 miles (404 km) long,[3] in southeastern North Dakota in the United States. Via the Red River, Lake Winnipeg, and the Nelson River, it is part of the watershed of Hudson Bay. The Wild Rice River drains an area of 2,233 square miles (5,780 km2) in the Red River Valley region. Its tributaries also drain a small part of northeastern South Dakota. Despite its length, it is a fairly small stream, flowing at an average rate of approximately 100 cubic feet per second (3 m³/s).

The river was so named for the former abundance of wild rice along its course.[7]


The Wild Rice River near Abercrombie in 2007

The Wild Rice River rises as an intermittent stream in Brampton Township in southeastern Sargent County, approximately 6 miles (10 km) south of Cogswell. It initially flows generally eastwardly in a winding course through Sargent and Richland counties, through the Tewaukon National Wildlife Refuge and past the towns of Cayuga, Mantador and Great Bend. Past Great Bend, the river turns northward; from west of the city of Wahpeton it generally parallels the Red River in a winding channel at a distance of approximately 3 to 7 miles (5 to 11 km). It flows into the Red River in southeastern Cass County, approximately 3 miles (5 km) southeast of Frontier and 7 miles (11 km) south of Fargo.[8]

Flow rate[edit]

The United States Geological Survey operates a stream gauge on the river 3.2 miles (5.1 km) northwest of Abercrombie. Between 1932 and 2005, the annual mean flow of the river at the gauge was 104 cubic feet per second (2.9 m3/s). The river's highest flow during the period was 9,540 cubic feet per second (270 m3/s) on April 11, 1969. Readings of zero have also been recorded.[4]

At an upstream gauge near Rutland in Sargent County, the annual mean flow between 1960 and 1982 was 8.36 cubic feet per second (0.237 m3/s). A reading of 2,700 cubic feet per second (76 m3/s) was recorded on April 3, 1997.[6]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b Google Earth.
  2. ^ a b Geographic Names Information System.
  3. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline data. The National Map Archived 2012-04-05 at WebCite, accessed June 8, 2011
  4. ^ a b c Robinson, pp. 44-45
  5. ^ Red River of the North, Reconnaissance Report.
  6. ^ a b c Robinson, pp. 38-39
  7. ^ Federal Writers' Project (1938). North Dakota, a Guide to the Northern Prairie State. WPA. p. 194. ISBN 978-1-62376-033-5.
  8. ^ North Dakota Atlas & Gazetteer, pp. 52-53, 63-64