Lake Darling, North Dakota, USA
Welcome to the ultimate guide for history, statistics, local fun facts and the best things to do at Lake Darling.
If you’re considering Lake Darling vacation rentals, we’ve made it super easy to explore accommodations and nearby hotels using the interactive map below. Simply click on a listing to compare similar properties, best rates and availability for your dates. Or keep scrolling to read our Lake Darling guide!
Lake Darling visitor and community guide
Lake Darling is the focal point of the Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge located in northwest North Dakota. The Refuge is beautifully situated along a narrow band of river bottom woodlands, gentle rolling hills, and fertile floodplains. Lake Darling was built by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and was created for water supply, wildlife propagation and waterfowl staging and resting.
Lake Darling was named after a political cartoonist Jay N. “Ding” Darling, who became director of the newly formed Bureau of Biological Survey. After the Great Plains suffered a drought in the 1930’s, the population of ducks diminished. Darling helped push the Duck Stamp Act through Congress. Proceeds from the sale of Duck Stamps were used to purchase three refuges, with Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge being one of them.
Lake Darling provides walking and hiking trails to enjoy the area’s beauty. There are even areas open for berry picking. In the winter cross-country skiing can be enjoyed along the 3.5-mile Prairie-Marsh Scenic Drive. Lake Darling also provides several designated canoe routes for those who like a leisurely paddle around the lake. Photographers will also enjoy the abundant flora and fauna around the lake. In the spring the Refuge sets up photo blinds that provide close-up viewing and photographing of the dance of the sharp-tailed grouse. Lake Darling has three lake access points with boat ramps, parking lots, two picnic areas as well as a visitor center. The Visitor Center has interpretive exhibits and a book store.
The Refuge has a special rifle deer season in which the hiking trails and designated activity areas are closed for safety reasons. Anglers will enjoy the 13 bank-fishing areas and two designated boat fishing areas at Lake Darling. Ice fishing is also allowed in designated access points. There are many species of fish in Lake Darling, but like other North Dakota lakes the most popular fish are the northern pike and walleye. Anglers must walk in designated areas and abide by Federal and State regulations.
Since Lake Darling is located in the Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge, some recreational activities are prohibited, including camping, water skiing, swimming, use of all-terrain vehicles, jet skis, and related vehicles. Boats and canoes are prohibited between October 1 and April 30.
For natural enthusiasts, Lake Darling is a delightful haven with ample wildlife to view. The Refuge was designated as a Globally Important Bird Area by the American Bird Conservancy, and up to 350,000 waterfowl can be seen around Lake Darling during the spring and fall migrations. Some of the waterfowl include tundra swans, pintail, canvasbacks, redheads, and buffleheads. In 1940 a resident Canada geese flock was re-introduced to the Refuge. Now the flock has grown to about 250 geese. Other than birds, visitors may spot deer and antelope, and on rear occasions elk and moose.
Whether visitors want a peaceful setting for a family picnic or enjoy a hike while taking in all the beauty around them, Lake Darling has a lot to offer. Visitors may find Lake Darling a place they would like to see time and time again.
Custom Lake Darling house decor
Read our full review of these personalized lake house signs.
Things to do at Lake Darling
- Ice Fishing
- Cross-Country Skiing
- Wildlife Viewing
- National Wildlife Refuge
Fish species found at Lake Darling
- Northern Pike
Best hotels and vacation rentals at Lake Darling
The Lake Darling map shown above is a simple and stress-free way to search for trip accommodations. But if you want to take a deeper dive to find the ideal waterfront home, cabin, condo, hotel or resort, visit our favorite lodging partners by clicking the buttons below.
Note: These are affiliate links so we may earn a small commission if you book through them. While there is no extra cost to you, it helps provide resources to keep our site running (thank you)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.
Lake Darling photo gallery
New photos coming soon!
Lake Darling statistics & helpful links
Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed
Water Level Control: Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge
Surface Area: 9,502 acres
Shoreline Length: 68 miles
Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,957 feet
Average Depth: 10 feet
Maximum Depth: 26 feet
Water Volume: 92,031 acre-feet
Completion Year: 1936
Drainage Area: 9,446 sq. miles
Trophic State: Hypereutrophic
We strive to keep the information on LakeLubbers as accurate as possible. However, if you’ve found something in this article that needs updating, we’d certainly love to hear from you! Please fill out our Content Correction form.
Advertise your Lake Darling vacation rental
LakeLubbers will soon offer homeowners and property managers the opportunity to to showcase their vacation rentals to the thousands of lake lovers searching our site daily for accommodations. If you’d like additional details, please contact our advertising team here.
Looking for the Lake Darling forum?
LakeLubbers previously offered visitors the ability to create accounts and participate in lake forums. When we overhauled the site’s content management system in 2021 we had to disable those features. We’re evaluating options and welcome your comments and feedback here.
Spread the word! Share our Lake Darling article with your fellow Lake Lubbers!