Barnes county is located in eastern North Dakota and has Valley City as its county seat. The county population on July 1, 1999, was 11,864, a decrease of 681 over the 1990 census.
Major features in the county include Bald Hill Dam on the Sheyenne River which was built to impound Lake Ashtabula. Two smaller pothole lakes, Fox Lake and Eckels Lake in the southwest corner of the county, provide an outlet for fishermen as well as waterfowlers.
A strange quirk in the geology of the land along I-94 between Jamestown and Valley City creates a "continental divide". Waters to the north and east of this point enter into the Red River of the North/Nelson River drainage, leading northeastward toward Hudson Bay. Waters to the south and west of here enter into the James River/Missouri River/Mississippi River drainage, leading southward toward the Gulf of Mexico.