Minnesota is known as the land of 10,000 lakes. So you can imagine much of the summer is spent outdoors at the lake. Locals in Minnesota talk about “going up north” to their cabins, but if you want to do some camping there are plenty of beautiful campgrounds to choose from. Here are the 5 best places to camp in Minnesota this summer.
1. Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA)
For an adventure camping trip you can head north to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. There are several outfitters that can get you set up with the permits and equipment you need for camping in some of the most remote and beautiful areas in the Midwest. Most of the campgrounds in the Boundary Waters are only accessible by canoe. You can canoe in and spend a few days at one spot or follow an itinerary of canoeing and camping at multiple lakes throughout the area. There are more than 1,500 miles of canoe routes and of the 10,000 lakes in Minnestoa, 1,000 or more are located along the US/Canada border in the Boundary Waters.
Campsites are primitive with more than 2,000 sites scattered throughout the area. For first timers camping at Seagull Lake is a great option. It is a 20-45 minute paddle from Entry Point #54, so nothing too strenuous for your first day. Grab your fishing gear and try to catch your first night’s dinner. The turquoise blue waters are home to trout, northern pike, walleye and smallmouth bass. Imagine how quiet it will be sitting at your campfire before turning in for the night. Truly one of the best places to camp in Minnesota this summer!
2. Gooseberry Falls State Park
The North Shore is a popular destination in Minnesota for exploring Lake Superior, lighthouses and waterfalls. Gooseberry falls has hiking trails on both sides of the Gooseberry River which flows into Lake Superior. You can hike up the trails to see the main falls and then follow the river down to the banks of Superior. The trails are lined with rocky terrain and tall pine trees that are home to some unique Minnesota animals like Lynx, timber wolves and the state bird the loon.
The Campground is located right on the edge of Lake Superior and you can hike down to the small Agate Beach. Each campsite is what you may think of when you hear the word “camping”, they are nestled in the woods with tall pine trees and a clearing for your campfire. Some sites are spread out quite a bit for more privacy. You can almost smell the clean fresh air!
3. Taylors Falls: Interstate State Park
Closer to the Twin Cities you will find another popular waterfall area. Taylors Falls has trails along the bluffs and cliffs on the shore of the St. Croix River on the Minnesota/Wisconsin border. You can hike along the rocks to get up to several different overlooks to look across the river to the Wisconsin side. One of the unique features are glacial potholes that were formed in the bedrock thousands of years ago. The rock formations also make this a favorite place for rock climbers, both beginners and advanced.
Interstate State Park is actually in Minnesota and Wisconsin with a campground on either side of the border. The campground on the Minnesota side has 37 campsites, some with hookups and others right on the shores of the St. Croix River! You have access to all of the trails right from your campsite. So convenient. Definitely one of the best places to camp in Minnesota this summer.
4. Baker Park
If you want the best of both worlds, city and country life, camping at Baker Park in Maple Plain is one of your best options. Enjoy a Twins game downtown Minneapolis, visit one of the restaurants on Eat Street or SUP on Lake of the Isles, then take the short drive west to Baker. The park is located on the SE shore of recreational Lake Independence. The large swimming beach is great for relaxing in the sun, launching your kayak (or rent one on site) and great fishing (bass, bullhead, bluegill, pike and walleye). There are paved trails for biking/hiking/roller-blading as well.
The campground has 203 campsites with 103 of them with electric. The sites are good sized and can accommodate two tents or one tent and one RV. The campsites are walking distance to the beach and the trail system. For a less rustic experience there are 5 cabins that you can rent each with “real beds” (mattresses), electricity, heat and ceiling fans. They also have a really nice screened-in porch to avoid the evening mosquito battle. Another one of the best places to camp in Minnesota this summer!
5. Itasca State Park
Do you want to be able to brag to your friends that you have walked across the Mighty Mississippi River? Then you need to visit Itasca State Park. Lake Itasca is the headwaters of the Mississippi and begins in the small lake that flows into the river. At the headwaters the Mississippi is only 20-30 feet wide and you can walk across it! You can slide off your shoes and socks and walk the sandy portion, or climb carefully across the scattered rocks separating the lake from the river. There is also a log bridge if you’d like to cross that way.
There is a campground in Lake Itasca State Park so you can enjoy the lake, river and surrounding pine forests. Keep your eye open for great blue herons, red-tailed hawks and pileated woodpeckers with their bright red Mohawks! There are two campgrounds in the park with a total of 223 sites, 160 of them are electric. They are all walking distance to the lake and trails so easy to settle in for the weekend or longer. You can see why this is one of the best places to stay in Minnesota this summer!
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