A popular campsite for the Arikara and Mandan people in the past, West Whitlock now draws modern-day campers and fishermen to its shores. When the area became a park, it was named for Mrs. J.F. Whitlock, whose pioneering family once owned the land. Whitlock Crossing was the name given to a small settlement that operated a ferry across the river near the area.
The replica of an Arikara earth lodge found in the park is a reminder of the many lodges that the Lewis and Clark expedition saw as they traveled this area. Each lodge, made of cottonwood logs, willow branches and grass, could house up to 20 people. The Arikara people were farmers and grew crops such as corn, beans, squash, sunflowers and tobacco.