McKenzieCounty.net - The Online Gateway to McKenzie County and Watford City

Community Information

A Thriving Community

Who are we and how are we building a life here? In Watford City, it's clear the pioneering spirit lives on. Through the memories, work and experience of our residents, we welcome you to discover if for yourself on the new video based website Voices of Watford City where residents talk about their experiences living, working and playing in our changing and thriving community. 

View all the stories at: www.voicesofwatford.com 


Rolling Out the Welcome Wagon from Voices of Watford on Vimeo.

News and stories of North Dakota’s Wild West are sweeping the nation and the world. The swift rise in population stemming from Bakken oil development has put Watford City and McKenzie County on the map as a rapid growing community full of diverse opportunities for longtime citizens and new residents settling in and calling the community home.

Once a small rural town of 1,200 on the western edge of North Dakota, Watford City has quickly blossomed into a community of over 8,000 people and growing.

This sort of rapid change has created diverse opportunities for both longtime citizens and new residents, and of course, has captured the attention of the world’s media in search of the scoop on the landscape, economy, industry and the everyday people who call this place home.

This isn’t the first time Watford City and McKenzie County have been referred to as the Wild West. Rich in pioneer heritage and history, the community of Watford City is fresh off celebrating their centennial year last summer, and it’s evident that the community on the edge of the beautifully rugged Theodore Roosevelt National Park is holding true to its innovative spirit by recognizing its individuality and building and planning for the future.

Because it seems Watford City is in the center of just about everything. In June 2014, it was reported that McKenzie County was producing nearly 32% of all oil coming out of North Dakota, the second largest oil producing state in the county. And while oil is at the top of the headlines, agriculture and the area’s unique and beautiful location remain the pride of the community.


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Wide Open Spaces

Once known as the “Island Empire” the county is bordered by the Yellowstone River, Lake Sakakawea and the Missouri River and the Little Missouri River and prides itself on being home to 500,000 acres of public land.

Because of it location, McKenzie County has a thriving tourism industry enjoyed by guests and residents alike.  McKenzie County hosts dozens of tour groups a year out of the Long X Visitor Center and Pioneer Museum where guests are provided with information about the impact that oil development has on the community before taking them out and showing them around. 

But McKenzie County will forever be known for its sweeping badlands, grasslands, Lake Sakakawea and Little Missouri River access, which all lend themselves to many kinds of adventures for the avid outdoorsman with a passion for deer hunting or extreme mountain biking to the family who enjoys exploring nature or boating on the big lake. 

Watford City residents and their families also enjoy beautiful parks, a walking path, a fishing pond, a water park and pool and will soon enjoy the perks of a new multi-million dollar Community Event Center, all run and managed by the growing and visionary Parks and Recreation Department. In addition to the facilities and parks, Watford City Parks and Rec. organizes and manages sport and recreation programs for children and adults throughout the year. 

Other youth activities outside of the parks and recreation and school system include gymnastics, dance, hockey, baseball, softball, youth rodeo, 4-H, Boy Scouts and Girl Scout programs. 

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Open for Business 

With all of that the community has to offer, combined with wide-open space available to enjoy and explore, new residents and national attention, it has become more important than ever for Watford City to make accommodations that keep the community “open for business” so that these unique destinations can be enjoyed by all.

And in the past few years, the community has made huge strides in their vision for growth with the opening of a new Hwy 85 bypass and four-lane highway west to Williston, the development and additions of five high-end hotels, a state-of-the art 200-child daycare facility, multiple housing developments, an elementary school addition, a new world-class high school and community events center dozens of new restaurants and retail establishments. Plans are currently underway for a new healthcare facility and an airport expansion.

“If you look around this community, nearly every business or facility is being updated or invented,” stated Gene Veeder with McKenzie County Development. “It’s a source of pride for the community to be able to so successfully plan for the future.”

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The Buzz

We are currently 4th generation ranchers here. It's a fun lifestyle for all of us. We know this is a growing place and my children will have more opportunities because of all that has happened here.

~ Calli Thorne





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