Itasca State Park Beach
I am not a lake swimmer at all, however I do enjoy getting out in the sun and spending time with my family. The beach area at Itasca is a fun way to get time off from the campground. The beach is filled with a large sandy area with room to spread out. There was a swimming zone section where the little kids were playing and there were a bunch of people paddle boarding, canoeing and boating across the open water.
There is also a much better playground off to the right side of the beach for all ages of children. We spent an hour at the beach then we moved onto the Mississippi Headwaters area.
Camping At Itasca State Park
Two RV campgrounds are available on-site at Itasca State Park, offering over 200 spaces, including 160 with electricity. The Bear Paw campground hugs the east arm of Lake Itasca. These sites cater to those with a love of water. Campers can enjoy the sounds of gently lapping waves as they gather their equipment for a day of fishing or test their tires before hitting the bike trail that runs along the shoreline.
The aptly-named Pine Ridge Campground is located in the heart of one of the parks many forests. Within the campground is the trailhead of the LaSalle Hiking Tail, a looping walkway that meets up with a larger paved route at the Pioneer Cemetery. Campers mingle amongst the trees that create a natural boundary between neighbors and offer a mixture of peaceful solitude and community.
Both campgrounds offer several accessible sites, recycling centers, playgrounds, firewood, fresh drinking water, and multiple showers and restrooms, but neither accepts motorhomes over 60 feet long.
Afton State Park Backpack Sites Editor’s Choice
Located less than a half hour east of Saint Paul, Afton State Park is a popular prairie-filled park that attracts campers from the Twin Cities and beyond.
What makes the campgrounds at Afton unique within the Minnesota state park system is that they are only available for those willing to backpack their gear to the sites. The 27 backpack sites at Afton State Park are located less than a mile from the parking lot, and all include a picnic table, fire ring, and plenty of space to pitch a tent or two.The campsites also share access to a communal pit toilet and water spigot.
The backpack sites at Afton vary from shaded to exposed, and all offer views and access to the surrounding wooded and prairie environments. This includes the extensive trail system that winds its way through the park.
No campsite is a direct neighbor to another, offering more privacy than your average campground, but it’s not uncommon to hear the crackle of a nearby campfire throughout the night, reminding you that you’re not completely alone in the woods.
Address: 6959 Peller Ave S, Hastings, Minnesota
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Lakeview Campground Father Hennepin State Park
Situated on the shores of Mille Lacs Lake, Father Hennepin State Park is named after a 17th-century priest who first wrote about the area. Mille Lacs Lake is one of the largest inland lakes in Minnesota, and the Lakeview campground within Father Hennepin State Park gives overnight users a front row seat to it all. Split between non-electrical and electrical, the 60 campsites at Lakeview all share access to flushing toilets, showers, and water spigots.
The campground also provides easy access to Mille Lacs Lake in the form of a fishing pier and places to moor a boat. Tents, pop-up campers, and RVs up to 60 feet long are welcome at Father Hennepin. If the Lakeview Campground is full when you go to reserve a spot, the Maple Grove Campground hosts another 40 campsites nearby.
Camping reservations at Father Hennepin State park, and all state parks in Minnesota, can be made one year in advance.
Address: 41296 Father Hennepin Park Road, Isle, Minnesota
Split Rock State Park Cart
Stretching from Duluth to the US/Canadian border, the North Shore of Lake Superior provides endless adventure. Activities range from cross-country hiking to sailing in the frigid waters of Lake Superior.
On top of the many things to do, great campsites stretch all along this recreation destination. Nearly halfway up the shore, Split Rock Lighthouse State Park offers a great example of these North Shore overnight accommodations. With just a little bit of effort, campers at this lakeside destination are afforded some of the best views found in the state.
Split Rock Lighthouse features 20 cart-in campsites that are approximately 2,000 feet from the parking lot. All campsites have a picnic table and fire ring and include the cart to haul in your gear. Flush toilets, showers, and clean water are available to all campers at Split Rock, but the real draw for the cart-in campgrounds is the immediate access to the stunning surroundings.
A strong recommendation when staying the night at Split Rock Lighthouse State Park is to reserve one of the campsites on the lakeside portion of the campground loop. These all offer personal views of the rugged shoreline and Split Rock Lighthouse in the distance. Campsites can be reserved one year in advance, and many are during the popular summer season.
Address: 3755 Split Rock Lighthouse Road, Two Harbors, Minnesota
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Itasca State Park Overview
Itasca State Park is home to more than 100 lakes and also located near the headwaters of the Mississippi River. The campground with 223 campsites for tents, trailers and RVs. There are 160 sites with electric hookups . There are also 11 backpack sites, 11 cart-in sites and 1 group campsite.
Campsites are suitable for tents, trailers and RVs. Each campsite also has a table, fire ring and grill. The campground has drinking water, flush toilets, hot showers, a new amphitheater, swim beach, picnic area and a dump station. Firewood and ice is also available for sale form the campground office.
Itasca State Park Area Recreation & Info
The Park consists of of 32,000 acres of heavily forested areas with towering pines and has many historic sites to explore. Be sure to check out the visitor center/gift shop and interpretive exhibit. Outdoor recreation activities include hiking, biking, fishing, boating, canoeing, kayaking, swimming, picnicking, wildlife viewing and winter sports. Rentals available include: fishing boats, pontoon boats, paddleboat, kayak, paddle boards, canoes and bikes.
Lake Bemidji State Park is another nice facility and is about 50 miles north via highway 71. The campground has 96 campsites.
History Of Itasca State Park
Almost 10,000 years ago, the Native American tribes of the modern-day Park Rapids area hunted bison, deer, and moose and foraged for food. According to this map, the main Indigenous tribe of this region is the Mdewakanton people. Take a scenic drive on Wilderness Drive in the park and learn more about the Bison Kill Site and what happened in this time period.
Larger, more permanent colonies arrived near Lake Itasca a few thousand years later and began building with stone, wood, and bone tools. You can visit the Itasca Indian Cemetery to pay homage to the Native people of the land that lost their lives.
In the early 19th century, explorer Henry Rowe Schoolcraft was guided by Anishinabe guide Ozawindib to locate the headwaters of the Mississippi River. Schoolcraft is the man who came up with the name “Itasca” from Latin words for “truth” and “head”.
The area was hastily being turned into a logging mecca and in the late 19th century, a historian, land surveyor, and anthropologist by the name of Jacob V. Brower was called to protect this forested hub for future people to enjoy. His efforts helped create this Minnesota State Park on April 20, 1891.
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Woodenfrog Campground Kabetogama State Forest
Minnesota is home to a remarkable 58 different state forests. Many state forests offer campgrounds, like Woodenfrog, that are more affordable than what you’ll find in adjacent state parks and often provide less crowded conditions.
All state forest campgrounds in Minnesota are considered primitive, containing established camping spots designated by picnic tables and fire rings, with pit toilets and freshwater spigots throughout.
While all state forest campgrounds can save you a little money on your Minnesota vacation, in terms of scenery and access to nearby attractions, they all deliver.
In the far northern part of the state, Woodenfrog Campground within Kabetogama State Forest is a great example of a state forest campground. Containing 61 non-electrical campsites, it not only offers easy access to adventure in the surrounding Kabetogama State Forest, but it sits at the front door of Voyageurs National Park and offers a launching point into a whole new world.
Serving as one of the few drive-in campgrounds with access to the water-fed Voyageurs National Park, this primitive campground is available on a first-come, first-served basis. The sites are known to fill up quickly.
Address: Co Rd. 122, Ray, Minnesota
Wild River State Park Campground
Situated along 18 miles of the St. Croix River, Wild River State Park is one of the larger state parks in Minnesota. Amid the many hiking, horseback, and canoeing opportunities, it also has an abundance of worthwhile camping spots.
While Wild River does have a wide variety of backcountry camping sites only accessible by non-motorized transportation, the most popular spots are at the Wild River State Park Campground, with more than 90 sites.
A third of the camping sites within the Wild River State Park Campground provide electricity, and all include a picnic table, fire ring, and plenty of space to pitch a tent or park an RV.
Despite the high number of spaces available, advanced reservations are strongly encouraged at Wild River State Park, especially on the weekends. But with 6,000 acres to explore and wild waters to paddle, there’s plenty of room at the park to explore by yourself.
Address: 39797 Park Trail, Center City, Minnesota
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Fall Lake Campground Superior National Forest
There is no shortage of campsites within the Superior National Forest of northern Minnesota. Throughout this rugged and wild part of the country, overnight visitors have a wide variety of camping options ranging from boat-access-only backcountry sites to RV-accommodating campgrounds with modern amenities.
Fall Lake Campground, located just east of Ely, is a great example of a contemporary campground within the Superior National Forest.
The campground features clean water and flushing toilets, and all 64 campsites provide picnic tables, tent pads, and fire rings. The campground also provides spectacular North Woods scenery, including the forested shoreline of Fall Lake.
What really makes Fall Lake Campground so great, however, is its immediate access to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. With just a single paddle stroke, campers at Fall Lake Campground can find themselves exploring the Boundary Waters.
Additional permits are required to spend the night in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. This proximity to such a vast expanse of waterways makes Fall Lake one of the best campgrounds near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.
Address: Fall Lake Road, Ely, Minnesota
Itasca State Park Campground
Every single time we camp at a State Park in Minnesota we are impressed with the views, trails, lakes and the camp sites. This time around we were once again very impressed with the campgrounds. I would have liked to be surrounded by more Evergreens instead of being able to fully see my camp neighbors, but it wasnt too bad. In fact my girls made friends with the other little girls next to us. Its one of their favorite things to do when we go camping and they still bring up stories of their friends they have made at different campgrounds while we are camping.
I was really surprised by how perfect the ground was since we have had so much rain lately. There werent puddles of water and mud all over the place. There is nothing fun about camping in a muddy campsite. The restrooms were some of the cleanest I have seen at a campground, too.
There was a nice play set near the campsite but it was not very little kid friendly. I would have liked to see a smaller scaled slide and a toddler sized swing for the younger kids. I do have to say the park was covered with a fresh layer of wood chips and it was also free from any trash on the ground. I love taking my kids to the park and it is great when I dont have to worry about them picking up litter.
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Visiting Itasca State Park In Minnesota
No matter the time of year, there is always something interesting to learn and discover at Itasca State Park. Your first stop should be a visit to the Mary Gibbs Mississippi Headwaters Center, where you can learn about the cultural and ecological history of the region. Check out the outdoor interpretive center before exploring the hiking trails. There is also a gift shop and cafe for snacks and souvenirs .
For educational exhibits, children’s play area, and more regional information, head to the Jacob B. Brower Visitor Center, which also has a gift shop, vending machines, and restrooms. The historic Douglas Lodge has been a source of overnight shelter for park guests since the early 20th century. Rest under the towering pines or sit in front of the stone fireplace in the lobby. There is even a restaurant that boasts lovely forest views as you dine.
Outdoor activities abound in this fruitful region of northern Minnesota. In warmer months, there are 49 miles of hiking trails, 16 miles of biking trails, and a boardwalk that is ideal for orchid viewing in summer months. Favorite hiking trails and sites include Red Pine, Preacher’s Grove, Large White Pine, Aiton Heights Fire Tower, and Bear Paw Spur. Bring your kayak to explore by water or rent a pontoon boat for a family excursion.
Stony Point Campground Chippewa National Forest
Easily accessed from the city of Walker, three hours north of Minneapolis, the Stony Point Campground places visitors onto the shores of Leech Lake. The campground is a great launching point into the surrounding Chippewa National Forest. The campground features 44 reservable sites all sharing access to the lake, as well as flush toilets, shower stations, and clean drinking-water spigots.
RVs are welcome at Stony Point, and campers are encouraged to use the boat ramp and two different harbors. The campground also provides easy access to a swimming beach and picnic area. The campground doesn’t just entice anglers, however. With hiking and biking trails like the North Country Trail and Paul Bunyan State Trail surrounding the area, the campground is also popular for those that like to explore on foot.
Address: 5510 US-2, Cass Lake, Minnesota
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Kilen Woods State Park
50200 860th Street, Lakefield, MN 56150
Kilen Woods isan unassuming state park that campers quickly fall in love with for its peaceful natural setting, large grassy sites, and well-maintained restrooms. Campsites with and without shade cover are available. In its idyllic location between the Des Moines River and a prairie bush natural area, park trails lead through woods and creeks, grassland, oak savannas, and to a breathtaking view over the river valley. About 30 RV sites, half with electric hookups, can accommodate RVs up to 50 feet. No dump station is available. With a location just 15 minutes off of I-90, Kilen Woods is a convenient stop and an unexpected gem.
Minnesota state park campgrounds that accommodate RV camping
Afton State Park
Bear Head Lake State Park
Beaver Creek Valley State Park
Big Bog State Recreation Area
Big Stone Lake State Park
Blue Mounds State Park
Itasca State Park Family Camping
In case you didnt know, our family experienced a huge move. I call it huge because we spent the last few months packing, moving, cleaning, unpacking to preparing our old home to go on the market and it was a ton of work! We needed a break from the endless duties of moving and Itasca State Park seemed to be the perfect family camping trip getaway! We started our Itasca State Park family camping trip with quite an adventure!
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Other Adventures in Minnesota: The state of Minnesota is the Land of 10,000 lakes and there’s much to explore. For an overview of the top spots for adventure in Minnesota, our guide to the best state & national parks in Minnesota highlights the varied terrain found throughout the state.
More Places to Visit in Minnesota: The cultural capital of the state, Minneapolis, is one of the first places to head for city attractions and events. In southern Minnesota, the city of Rochester, home to the world-famous Mayo Clinic, is also a fun place to visit throughout the year.
Portsmouth Campground Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area
Serving as one of Minnesota’s newest state recreation areas, Cuyuna Country is quickly becoming one of the most popular. This former iron mine encompasses abandoned pits now filled with turquoise-tinted water and 25 miles of some of the best mountain bike trails in Minnesota. The best way to experience it all is by staying at the Portsmouth Campground within its boundaries.
Portsmouth Campground is on the eastern side of the 5,000-acre Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area and near the shores of Portsmouth Mine Lake. The campground features 18 electric sites, 15 non-electric sites, and four walk-in sites.
All campsite occupants at Cuyuna Country share freshwater facilities, and more notably, quick access to all the recreational opportunities within Cuyuna Country.
The State Recreation Area includes more than 20 natural and manmade lakes, an abundance of mountain bike singletrack trails, and generous views that stretch beyond the horizon.
The neighboring community of Ironton makes for a great basecamp, with camping supplies and bike rentals. Cuyuna Country also has three seven-person yurts, which are available year-round.
Address: 307 3rd Street, Ironton, Minnesota
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