Most rural counties in North Dakota

Written by:
July 25, 2022
Bjr97543 // Wikimedia Commons

Most rural counties in North Dakota

A surprising number of U.S. counties have 100% rural land-702, in fact. Stacker compiled a list of the most rural counties in North Dakota using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Counties are ranked by the percent of land area that is rural, as of the 2010 Census, with ties broken by residents per square mile, according to 2020 5-year population estimates.

According to the Census Bureau, rural land encompasses any land that isn't an urban area. To be considered an urban area, a place has to have a densely settled core of census tracts or blocks and count at least 2,500 people, at least 1,500 of whom must be residents of non-institutional buildings. Areas with 50,000 people or more are considered urbanized areas, while areas with between 2,500 and 50,000 people are considered urban clusters.

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#53. Cass County

- Rural area: 97.0% (1,712 square miles)
- Urban area: 3.0% (53 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,765 square miles
--- #10 largest county in state, #337 nationwide

- Population density: 102.0 people / square mile (179,937 residents)
--- #53 lowest density county in state, #2,267 nationwide

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#52. Burleigh County

- Rural area: 98.1% (1,602 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.9% (31 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,633 square miles
--- #13 largest county in state, #371 nationwide

- Population density: 58.5 people / square mile (95,509 residents)
--- #52 lowest density county in state, #1,826 nationwide

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#51. Grand Forks County

- Rural area: 98.4% (1,414 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.6% (23 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,436 square miles
--- #17 largest county in state, #418 nationwide

- Population density: 48.9 people / square mile (70,243 residents)
--- #51 lowest density county in state, #1,669 nationwide

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#50. Ward County

- Rural area: 98.7% (1,987 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.3% (27 square miles)
- Total land area: 2,013 square miles
--- #5 largest county in state, #283 nationwide

- Population density: 34.3 people / square mile (68,962 residents)
--- #50 lowest density county in state, #1,326 nationwide

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#49. Stark County

- Rural area: 99.4% (1,327 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.6% (8 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,335 square miles
--- #21 largest county in state, #446 nationwide

- Population density: 23.3 people / square mile (31,164 residents)
--- #49 lowest density county in state, #1,017 nationwide

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#48. Morton County

- Rural area: 99.5% (1,917 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.5% (9 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,926 square miles
--- #7 largest county in state, #295 nationwide

- Population density: 16.2 people / square mile (31,118 residents)
--- #47 lowest density county in state, #775 nationwide

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Acroterion // Wikimedia Commons

#47. Stutsman County

- Rural area: 99.6% (2,212 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.4% (10 square miles)
- Total land area: 2,222 square miles
--- #2 largest county in state, #253 nationwide

- Population density: 9.4 people / square mile (20,879 residents)
--- #43 lowest density county in state, #553 nationwide

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JERRYE & ROY KLOTZ MD // Wikimedia Commons

#46. Williams County

- Rural area: 99.7% (2,070 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.3% (7 square miles)
- Total land area: 2,077 square miles
--- #4 largest county in state, #274 nationwide

- Population density: 17.4 people / square mile (36,044 residents)
--- #48 lowest density county in state, #810 nationwide

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#45. Richland County

- Rural area: 99.7% (1,431 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.3% (5 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,436 square miles
--- #18 largest county in state, #419 nationwide

- Population density: 11.3 people / square mile (16,245 residents)
--- #45 lowest density county in state, #613 nationwide

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#44. Barnes County

- Rural area: 99.7% (1,487 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.3% (5 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,492 square miles
--- #15 largest county in state, #403 nationwide

- Population density: 7.1 people / square mile (10,592 residents)
--- #39 lowest density county in state, #457 nationwide

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Andrew Filer // Wikimedia Commons

#43. Ramsey County

- Rural area: 99.7% (1,184 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.3% (3 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,187 square miles
--- #26 largest county in state, #515 nationwide

- Population density: 9.7 people / square mile (11,521 residents)
--- #44 lowest density county in state, #567 nationwide

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Andrew Filer // Wikimedia Commons

#42. Pierce County

- Rural area: 99.9% (1,017 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.2% (1 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,019 square miles
--- #37 largest county in state, #653 nationwide

- Population density: 4.0 people / square mile (4,061 residents)
--- #29 lowest density county in state, #311 nationwide

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#41. Walsh County

- Rural area: 99.9% (1,280 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.1% (2 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,282 square miles
--- #22 largest county in state, #469 nationwide

- Population density: 8.3 people / square mile (10,642 residents)
--- #41 lowest density county in state, #506 nationwide

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#40. Mercer County

- Rural area: 99.9% (1,042 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.1% (1 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,043 square miles
--- #35 largest county in state, #629 nationwide

- Population density: 8.0 people / square mile (8,359 residents)
--- #40 lowest density county in state, #495 nationwide

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Andrew Filer // Wikimedia Commons

#39. Rolette County

- Rural area: 100.0% (903 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 903 square miles
--- #44 largest county in state, #840 nationwide

- Population density: 16.0 people / square mile (14,437 residents)
--- #46 lowest density county in state, #769 nationwide

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Andrew Filer from Seattle (ex-Minneapolis) // Wikimedia Commons

#38. Traill County

- Rural area: 100.0% (862 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 862 square miles
--- #47 largest county in state, #960 nationwide

- Population density: 9.3 people / square mile (7,999 residents)
--- #42 lowest density county in state, #547 nationwide

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DakotaDocMartin // Wikimedia Commons

#37. Pembina County

- Rural area: 100.0% (1,119 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,119 square miles
--- #32 largest county in state, #561 nationwide

- Population density: 6.1 people / square mile (6,850 residents)
--- #38 lowest density county in state, #416 nationwide

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Andrew Filer // Wikimedia Commons

#36. Ransom County

- Rural area: 100.0% (862 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 862 square miles
--- #46 largest county in state, #959 nationwide

- Population density: 6.1 people / square mile (5,258 residents)
--- #37 lowest density county in state, #413 nationwide

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Andrew Filer from Seattle (ex-Minneapolis) // Wikimedia Commons

#35. Mountrail County

- Rural area: 100.0% (1,825 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,825 square miles
--- #9 largest county in state, #321 nationwide

- Population density: 5.7 people / square mile (10,348 residents)
--- #36 lowest density county in state, #396 nationwide

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#34. Foster County

- Rural area: 100.0% (635 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 635 square miles
--- #52 largest county in state, #1,505 nationwide

- Population density: 5.1 people / square mile (3,231 residents)
--- #35 lowest density county in state, #371 nationwide

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Xerxes2004 // Wikimedia Commons

#33. McKenzie County

- Rural area: 100.0% (2,760 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 2,760 square miles
--- #1 largest county in state, #189 nationwide

- Population density: 5.0 people / square mile (13,836 residents)
--- #34 lowest density county in state, #369 nationwide

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Andrew Filer // Wikimedia Commons

#32. Benson County

- Rural area: 100.0% (1,389 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,389 square miles
--- #19 largest county in state, #438 nationwide

- Population density: 4.9 people / square mile (6,860 residents)
--- #33 lowest density county in state, #365 nationwide

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JERRYE & ROY KLOTZ MD // Wikimedia Commons

#31. Sargent County

- Rural area: 100.0% (859 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 859 square miles
--- #48 largest county in state, #968 nationwide

- Population density: 4.5 people / square mile (3,899 residents)
--- #32 lowest density county in state, #349 nationwide

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JERRYE & ROY KLOTZ MD // Wikimedia Commons

#30. McLean County

- Rural area: 100.0% (2,111 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 2,111 square miles
--- #3 largest county in state, #265 nationwide

- Population density: 4.5 people / square mile (9,531 residents)
--- #31 lowest density county in state, #347 nationwide

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#29. Dickey County

- Rural area: 100.0% (1,131 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,131 square miles
--- #31 largest county in state, #556 nationwide

- Population density: 4.3 people / square mile (4,857 residents)
--- #30 lowest density county in state, #337 nationwide

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Andrew Filer // Wikimedia Commons

#28. Sioux County

- Rural area: 100.0% (1,094 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,094 square miles
--- #34 largest county in state, #584 nationwide

- Population density: 4.0 people / square mile (4,339 residents)
--- #28 lowest density county in state, #308 nationwide

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USFWS Mountain-Prairie // Wikimedia Common

#27. Bottineau County

- Rural area: 100.0% (1,668 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,668 square miles
--- #11 largest county in state, #362 nationwide

- Population density: 3.8 people / square mile (6,418 residents)
--- #27 lowest density county in state, #296 nationwide

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Andrew Filer // Wikimedia Commons

#26. LaMoure County

- Rural area: 100.0% (1,146 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,146 square miles
--- #29 largest county in state, #540 nationwide

- Population density: 3.7 people / square mile (4,225 residents)
--- #26 lowest density county in state, #286 nationwide

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Andrew Filer // Wikimedia Commons

#25. Eddy County

- Rural area: 100.0% (630 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 630 square miles
--- #53 largest county in state, #1,523 nationwide

- Population density: 3.6 people / square mile (2,262 residents)
--- #25 lowest density county in state, #278 nationwide

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Andrew Filer // Wikimedia Commons

#24. Griggs County

- Rural area: 100.0% (709 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 709 square miles
--- #51 largest county in state, #1,298 nationwide

- Population density: 3.3 people / square mile (2,314 residents)
--- #24 lowest density county in state, #258 nationwide

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Publichall // Wikimedia Commons

#23. McHenry County

- Rural area: 100.0% (1,874 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,874 square miles
--- #8 largest county in state, #304 nationwide

- Population density: 3.1 people / square mile (5,825 residents)
--- #23 lowest density county in state, #247 nationwide

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#22. Wells County

- Rural area: 100.0% (1,271 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,271 square miles
--- #23 largest county in state, #474 nationwide

- Population density: 3.1 people / square mile (3,889 residents)
--- #22 lowest density county in state, #241 nationwide

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Andrew Filer // Wikimedia Commons

#21. Nelson County

- Rural area: 100.0% (982 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 982 square miles
--- #41 largest county in state, #702 nationwide

- Population density: 2.9 people / square mile (2,864 residents)
--- #21 lowest density county in state, #229 nationwide

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Andrew Filer // Wikimedia Commons

#20. Renville County

- Rural area: 100.0% (877 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 877 square miles
--- #45 largest county in state, #917 nationwide

- Population density: 2.7 people / square mile (2,387 residents)
--- #20 lowest density county in state, #219 nationwide

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David Becker // Wikimedia Commons

#19. Oliver County

- Rural area: 100.0% (723 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 723 square miles
--- #49 largest county in state, #1,234 nationwide

- Population density: 2.7 people / square mile (1,962 residents)
--- #19 lowest density county in state, #218 nationwide

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Andrew Filer // Wikimedia Commons

#18. Bowman County

- Rural area: 100.0% (1,162 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,162 square miles
--- #27 largest county in state, #530 nationwide

- Population density: 2.7 people / square mile (3,091 residents)
--- #18 lowest density county in state, #212 nationwide

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Andrew Filer // Wikimedia Commons

#17. McIntosh County

- Rural area: 100.0% (975 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 975 square miles
--- #42 largest county in state, #713 nationwide

- Population density: 2.6 people / square mile (2,535 residents)
--- #17 lowest density county in state, #206 nationwide

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Calvin Beale // Wikimedia Commons

#16. Steele County

- Rural area: 100.0% (712 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 712 square miles
--- #50 largest county in state, #1,287 nationwide

- Population density: 2.6 people / square mile (1,817 residents)
--- #16 lowest density county in state, #200 nationwide

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Andrew Filer // Wikimedia Commons

#15. Cavalier County

- Rural area: 100.0% (1,489 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,489 square miles
--- #16 largest county in state, #405 nationwide

- Population density: 2.5 people / square mile (3,769 residents)
--- #15 lowest density county in state, #197 nationwide

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Andrew Filer // Wikimedia Commons

#14. Adams County

- Rural area: 100.0% (988 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 988 square miles
--- #40 largest county in state, #697 nationwide

- Population density: 2.3 people / square mile (2,271 residents)
--- #14 lowest density county in state, #181 nationwide

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Andrew Filer // Wikimedia Commons

#13. Hettinger County

- Rural area: 100.0% (1,132 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,132 square miles
--- #30 largest county in state, #555 nationwide

- Population density: 2.2 people / square mile (2,510 residents)
--- #13 lowest density county in state, #175 nationwide

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Andrew Filer // Wikimedia Commons

#12. Dunn County

- Rural area: 100.0% (2,008 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 2,008 square miles
--- #6 largest county in state, #284 nationwide

- Population density: 2.2 people / square mile (4,362 residents)
--- #12 lowest density county in state, #171 nationwide

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Andrew Filer // Wikimedia Commons

#11. Emmons County

- Rural area: 100.0% (1,510 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,510 square miles
--- #14 largest county in state, #395 nationwide

- Population density: 2.2 people / square mile (3,262 residents)
--- #11 lowest density county in state, #170 nationwide

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Andrew Filer // Wikimedia Commons

#10. Towner County

- Rural area: 100.0% (1,025 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,025 square miles
--- #36 largest county in state, #647 nationwide

- Population density: 2.1 people / square mile (2,191 residents)
--- #10 lowest density county in state, #168 nationwide

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Andrew Filer // Wikimedia Commons

#9. Burke County

- Rural area: 100.0% (1,104 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,104 square miles
--- #33 largest county in state, #572 nationwide

- Population density: 1.9 people / square mile (2,142 residents)
--- #9 lowest density county in state, #148 nationwide

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#8. Kidder County

- Rural area: 100.0% (1,351 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,351 square miles
--- #20 largest county in state, #443 nationwide

- Population density: 1.8 people / square mile (2,468 residents)
--- #8 lowest density county in state, #142 nationwide

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Andrew Filer // Wikimedia Commons

#7. Divide County

- Rural area: 100.0% (1,261 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,261 square miles
--- #24 largest county in state, #480 nationwide

- Population density: 1.8 people / square mile (2,289 residents)
--- #7 lowest density county in state, #141 nationwide

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Andrew Filer // Wikimedia Commons

#6. Golden Valley County

- Rural area: 100.0% (1,001 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,001 square miles
--- #38 largest county in state, #679 nationwide

- Population density: 1.8 people / square mile (1,796 residents)
--- #6 lowest density county in state, #138 nationwide

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Jerry Huddleston // Wikimedia Commons

#5. Logan County

- Rural area: 100.0% (993 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 993 square miles
--- #39 largest county in state, #689 nationwide

- Population density: 1.8 people / square mile (1,743 residents)
--- #5 lowest density county in state, #133 nationwide

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Andrew Filer // Wikimedia Commons

#4. Grant County

- Rural area: 100.0% (1,659 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,659 square miles
--- #12 largest county in state, #363 nationwide

- Population density: 1.4 people / square mile (2,318 residents)
--- #4 lowest density county in state, #99 nationwide

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Andrew Filer // Wikimedia Commons

#4. Sheridan County

- Rural area: 100.0% (972 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 972 square miles
--- #43 largest county in state, #717 nationwide

- Population density: 1.3 people / square mile (1,289 residents)
--- #3 lowest density county in state, #96 nationwide

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Randall Runtsch // Shutterstock

#2. Billings County

- Rural area: 100.0% (1,149 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,149 square miles
--- #28 largest county in state, #537 nationwide

- Population density: 0.8 people / square mile (886 residents)
--- #2 lowest density county in state, #46 nationwide

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Bjr97543 // Wikimedia Commons

#1. Slope County

- Rural area: 100.0% (1,215 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,215 square miles
--- #25 largest county in state, #505 nationwide

- Population density: 0.6 people / square mile (788 residents)
--- #1 lowest density county in state, #36 nationwide

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