Where to Camp in the North Star State
Minnesota is known as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes.” Its distinguishing features include breathtaking scenery, green forests, vast expanses of prairie and, of course, the many lakes that dot the landscape across the state. Two of the best-known geographic features of the state are the headwaters of the Mississippi and the shoreline of Lake Superior, the world’s largest freshwater lake.
Needless to say, Minnesota is a popular destination for outdoorsmen. The mild springs and summers make for camping and fishing that can’t be beat, while fall offers travelers views of brilliant fall foliage. Those brave enough to venture to Minnesota in the winter months will be rewarded with gorgeous snowfall, frozen lakes and great skiing.
Here are our picks for the top 10 camping spots in Minnesota.
1. Whiteface Reservoir – Saint Louis County
Whiteface Reservoir Campground offers an ideal getaway for anglers, boaters and families. The provided swim beach, accessible fishing dock, playground and five picnic areas offer hours of entertainment, and the scenery provides a relaxing backdrop for the day’s activities. Superior National Forest, located in northeastern Minnesota’s arrowhead region, is comprised of 3 million acres. The forest spans 150 miles along the United States-Canada border. Learn more.
2. Flour Lake Campground – Grand Marais
Flour Lake Campground is located on the quiet shores of Flour Lake, adjacent to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The lake offers great fishing for smallmouth bass, walleye, and lake trout. The campground has vault toilets, two solar pumps for drinking water, fire grates, picnic tables and a boat ramp. Learn more.
3. Voyageurs National Park – International Falls
Voyageurs National Park lies within the heart of the North American Continent. Here you can see and touch rocks half as old as the world, experience the life of a voyageur, immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of a boreal forest, view the dark skies, or ply the interconnected water routes. Leave your car behind and set out on the water highways of the North Woods. Learn more.
4. Bear Head Lake State Park – Ely
Secluded in the Northwoods, this park contains pristine lakes; it is home to black bears, nesting eagles, wolves and moose. Stands of white and red pine trees tower over the birch, aspen and fir trees. Located just south of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, the park shares a similar wilderness quality. Explore miles of shoreline by canoe. Swim at the beach, picnic in the shelter building, or fish for walleye, bass, crappies or trout. Trails in the park link-up with the Taconite State Trail and offer snowmobilers, skiers and hikers plenty to enjoy. Rent a three-bedroom guest house or camper cabin any season of the year. Learn more.
5. Stony Point – Walker
Stony Point Resort on beautiful Cass Lake in Northern Minnesota has been a “Family Tradition since 1939.” Our Minnesota family resort is located just northeast of downtown Cass Lake, where outdoor recreation is a way of life. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing getaway surrounded by wildlife and nature, or you’re seeking more action-packed adventure – Stony Point Resort is the perfect place to spend your next vacation or Minnesota fishing getaway! Learn more.
6. Itasca State Park – Park Rapids
Established in 1891, Itasca is Minnesota’s oldest state park. Today, the park totals more than 32,000 acres and includes more than 100 lakes. Walk across the mighty Mississippi as it starts its winding journey 2,552 miles to the Gulf of Mexico. Stand under towering pines at Preacher’s Grove. Visit the Itasca Indian Cemetery or Wegmann’s Cabin, landmarks of centuries gone by. Camp under the stars, or stay the night at the historic Douglas Lodge or cabins. Explore Wilderness Drive past the 2,000-acre Wilderness Sanctuary, one of Minnesota’s seven National Natural Landmarks. Learn more.
7. Tettegouche State Park – Silver Bay
This is a hiker’s paradise with miles of trails that overlook the Sawtooth Mountains and wind down to inland lakes accessible only by foot. The Palisade Valley Unit features broad scenic vistas coupled with an expanse of multi-use, four-season trails. Two more trout lakes complement the fishing opportunities within the rest of the park. The park is also known for rock climbing opportunities and quality birdwatching in the spring, summer, and especially the fall. Learn more.
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8. Temperance River State Park – Schroeder
Take the trail that winds along the edge of the Temperance River gorge and enjoy the rushing waterfalls surrounded by pine, spruce, cedar and birch forests. The rapidly flowing river has cut deep potholes in and along the riverbed. Hike the trail to Hidden Falls or connect up with trails into the Superior National Forest and the Cross River Wayside. Visitors come to camp and picnic along the shore of Lake Superior. Winter brings snowshoers and snowmobilers to tackle the hilly terrain. Carlton Peak, a recent addition to the park, is popular with rock climbers and offers even more recreational opportunities to park visitors. Learn more.
9. Scenic State Park – Bigfork
With its pristine lakes, virgin pines, swimming beach, and wilderness-like setting, Scenic State Park is well deserving of its name. Here, visitors can hike the Chase Point Trail for hypnotic views of Coon and Sandwick Lakes and listen to the wind whistle through the giant pines. The park’s overnight facilities include campsites (boat-in, drive-in, backpack), and a cabin. The historic lodge houses interpretive displays. Learn more.
10. Whitewater State Park – Altura
Picturesque limestone bluffs and deep ravines make Whitewater a very popular southeastern state park. The 2,700 acre park is an angler’s paradise with brown, brook, and rainbow trout swimming in the spring-fed Whitewater River and Trout Run Creek. Visitors enjoy a sandy swimming beach, a year-round visitor center, easy-to-challenging hiking trails, camping, a group camp, and a modern group center. Come in the winter to enjoy cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, and stay at the group center in rustic, winterized cabins. All through the year, discover the natural and human history of the area at one of the many interpretive programs, visitor center exhibits or self-guided trails. Learn more.
Do you have a favorite camping spot in Minnesota that wasn’t included on this list? Let us know in the comments!
And be sure to check out the rest of our Best Campgrounds in the US series.