Bismarck is the capital of the U.S. state of North Dakota and the county seat of Burleigh County. It is the second most populous city in North Dakota after Fargo. Bismarck is situated on the east bank of the Missouri River, directly across the river from Mandan. The two cities make up the core of the Bismarck-Mandan Metropolitan Statistical Area.
The North Dakota State Capitol, the tallest building in the state, towers over the central part of Bismarck. The state government employs more than 4,000 in the city. As a hub of retail and health care, Bismarck is the economic center of a large portion of south-central North Dakota and north-central South Dakota.
Bismarck has a large park system and an extensive network of exercise trails. The Bismarck Parks and Recreation District, established in 1927, operates many parks, swimming pools, and several golf courses within the city.
Sertoma Park stretches more than 3 miles (4.8 km) along the banks of the Missouri River and within the park are several miles of biking trails, the Dakota Zoo, and Super Slide Amusement Park.
In total, the Parks and Recreation District operates roughly 2,300 acres (930 ha) of public parkland.
There are five golf courses in Bismarck: four 18-hole courses (Apple Creek Country Club, Hawktree Golf Club, Riverwood Golf Course, and Tom O'Leary Golf Course), and one 9-hole course (Pebble Creek Golf Course).
One of the main tourism attractions of the Bismarck area is Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park, located 7 miles (11 km) south of neighboring Mandan, North Dakota. It contains the partial reconstruction of Fort Abraham Lincoln, the headquarters of the 7th Cavalry and last command of George Armstrong Custer before the Battle of the Little Bighorn. It also holds On-a-Slant Village, a partially rebuilt earthlodge village that was once a home to the Mandan tribe. Guided tours of both sites are offered in the summertime. There are also a museum on park history, nature trails, and a campground.
Hunting and fishing are popular with hunting seasons for deer, pheasant, and waterfowl. Fishing is a year-round sport on the Missouri River bordering Bismarck. There are public docks on the river. From north to south, there is a dock at the Port of Bismarck, from which the Lewis and Clark passenger riverboat plies the Missouri; Fox Island Landing, about a half mile southwest of Riverwood Golf Course; and the Bismarck Dock at General Sibley Park, where there is a boat ramp and picnic facilities.
Near Bismarck are several dammed lakes, including McDowell Dam Lake, 6 miles (9.7 km) east of the city, and two lakes a few miles west of the city. The extensive Lake Sakakawea is 62 miles (100 km) north of Bismarck, upstream of Garrison Dam. In February 2007, Bismarck broke the record for most snow angels made in one place. A total of 8,962 participants came to the capitol grounds for the event.