THE BEST CAMPING IN
Minnesota
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Camping Minnesota

The Land of 10,000 Lakes is also notable for its likewise numerous assortment of trails and campgrounds for avid lovers of the great outdoors. Minnesota has many diverse natural environments to explore all across the state. While there are lots of spots to choose from, here are a couple especially neat sites to consider for your next foray when camping in Minnesota.

Part of the massive Dulux Complex rock formation, Eagle Mountain stands at a whopping 2,301 feet, the highest point of elevation in the state. Isolated from higher ground for hundreds of miles and overlooking several different lakes and a vast forest, the peak offers excellent opportunities to take a bird’s eye view of Minnesota’s rich natural beauty.

In addition to the campsites adjacent to Whale Lake, there are also many trails that run along the mountain, through the woods, and beside the lakes. Just keep in mind that Eagle Mountain’s trails overlap with the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, so be sure to get a BWCAW permit if you plan to cross over. Plus, you need an overnight permit from the Forest Service in nearby Tofte, MN.

The starting point for the grand Mississippi River, Lake Itasca, rests within Itasca State Park. The park hosts a variety of camping amenities such as lodges and internet access. You can also stop at the Mary Gibbs Mississippi Headwaters Center to learn more about the lake and its link to the Mississippi. Or you can check out the University of Minnesota’s Itasca Biological Station and Laboratories campus.

In addition to excellent camping facilities, Lake Itasca has many other outdoor sights and activities for visitors to explore. Multiple trails snake by the shores of the lake and into the adjacent wilderness, and it’s definitely a great place to experience the beauty of Minnesota’s northern ecosystems. Plus, you can go fishing at the lake, assuming you have the necessary permits.

With so many different campsites and trails throughout Minnesota’s diverse natural environments, there’s bound to be one that’s just right for you. Whatever you’re looking for in your camping experience, whether it’s finding deluxe accommodations or exploring unique trails or getting a great view of the landscape, you’re sure to have a blast camping in Minnesota.

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Recent Reviews in Minnesota
Open sites and beautiful lake with a swimming beach

If you’re looking for a county park close to the Twin Cities metro area with a beautiful lake, good fishing, swimming, recreation rentals like paddle boards kayaks and canoes that also has a campground with Camper Cabins attached, look no further than Baker Park Reserve. Baker Park reserve is just outside of Maple Plain Minnesota which is about 45 minutes from the Twin Cities metro area.

Lake Independence is attached to Baker Park reserve which is a beautiful lake for fishing, swimming, kayaking and, recreational boating. You can catch everything from Crappies, perch, sunfish, walleye and, musky on this lake. A lot of people come out and troll the lake for musky and also bring pontoons for swimming. You can jump right off the pontoon into the lake and have a great time with the family or just be alone on the boat and catch a ton of fish.

The lake can be busy especially on holiday weeks and weekends and The park and restricts how many boats around the lake and enforces no wake zone’s during the holiday I’m busy times. So check the leak before you go if you’re planning on doing or jet skiing or just cruising around on your boat.

The campground that’s attached to the park is pretty open and there are very many secluded sites if any at all. I took a few videos while driving through the campground to show you what the campground is like. There’s a campground office that offer snacks and sodas and ice and such. If you’re looking for a good getaway for the weekend that’s close this would be a good park for you.

Pitstop Before Portage

This campground was where we stayed the night before we went out on our portaging canoe trip. I was impressed with how well kept and clean the campground was. The biffy was clean and there were multiple clean water pumps located around the campground.

We stayed at campsite 36, not our ideal choice, there were multiple campsites on the water that looked great. We arrived around 7pm, so campsites were slim pickings. Site 36 was spacious and allowed room for our 2 tents and 2 vehicles (one with a trailer). The site had a picnic table and fire pit and we were located close to the biffy.

There was a clearly labeled trail close to our site to walk to the lake. The lake was beautiful! The trail continued along the shoreline in the wooded area.

Additionally, with the Sawbill Canoe Outfitters located on the campground, there is a small convenience store supplied with food, clothing, souvenirs, camping supplies, etc. There is also a bathroom and you can pay to take a shower in the shower house. The shower cost $4 or $4.50 if you needed to rent a towel. The showers are very clean, but the water temperature is difficult to control (either hot or cold).

Overall, we enjoyed our stay at Sawbill Lake Campground and it was convenient to have the canoe outfitters right there.

Great place for fun and outdoors

I had a fun time on this lake. Really close to the shores of leach lake which is good for fishing

Great lake

Great campground on an even better lake

Loved our short time here in a camper cabin

We stayed at Maplewood State Park mid-July. We actually stayed in one of the 3 camper cabins and loved it! They have electricity, heat, ceiling fans and a private dock on Beers Lake. There is a vault toilet & water spicket nearby. Each cabin has its own fire pit and picnic table area. It felt very private although the cabins are rather near to each other. We checked out the campgrounds and they had spacious sites, some more private than others. It had a family friendly feel and was obviously a favorite spot for fisherman and water recreation enthusiasts. I wish we could have spent more time in the 9200 acre park. There is a swimming beach & picnic area that allows you to have campfires, as well as a nice shower house. The ranger was helpful regarding my questions about the lake and potentially renting a cabin for ice fishing this winter. At sunset, sitting by the lake, it was beautiful- nothing but songbirds and the call of loons to listen to.

Nice campground by Baptism River

We had a nice stay here at this campground. We were on site #6 and stayed for one night only and for that it was just perfect. It’s first come first serve and we were lucky to get a good spot on the side and not the middle. Each site comes with a fire ring and a table.
The location is great for close to trails. Baptism River is gorgeous and can be accessed directly from the campground. Right by the river there are more fire rings which can be used by anyone camping there. Drinking water is available and vault toilets. We would come here again for a 1-3 night stay.

Beautiful but a bit crowded

I am from a suburb of Twin Cities metro area in Minnesota and we wanted to go camping with my in-laws who have horses. We needed a park that was close and had equestrian camping so we decided to go to Lake Carlos State Park.

Lake Carlos State Park is roughly 2.5hours from the Twin Cities and is a beautiful getaway for a weekend trip. You can leave after work on a Friday and still have time to make it to the park, set up and still be able to cook dinner and enjoy a s’more or two.

We booked site H3 in the equestrian campground which was a VERY open site right off the main loop in the equestrian campground. It was very sunny and barely any shade for the horses. The site were in was electric and there were only three non-electric sites in the equestrian campground. The other sites were awesome for shade but were still super open to everyone.

There were great trails for hiking and horseback riding. They also allowed mountain biking on the trails.

The staff at the office were super friendly and they talked to us for about 15 minutes. Their store in the office was pretty great and they had everything from toys for the kids to s’mores stuff and stickers specific to the park. The firewood was pretty fast burning and cost 6$ a bundle so it was pretty spendy since we cook only over the fire.

The main campground was VERY busy and jammed packed. The sites were too close together and open for my comfort.

The beach was very dirty and there were army worms everywhere crawling on everything.

We took a little bike ride to the group camp which was an amazing area with a very nice shelter with electric.

All in all, this is a good park to go to if you are looking for a park close to the twin cities metro area.

Beautiful but a bit crowded

I am from a suburb of Twin Cities metro area in Minnesota and we wanted to go camping with my in-laws who have horses. We needed a park that was close and had equestrian camping so we decided to go to Lake Carlos State Park.

Lake Carlos State Park is roughly 2.5hours from the Twin Cities and is a beautiful getaway for a weekend trip. You can leave after work on a Friday and still have time to make it to the park, set up and still be able to cook dinner and enjoy a s’more or two.

We booked site H3 in the equestrian campground which was a VERY open site right off the main loop in the equestrian campground. It was very sunny and barely any shade for the horses. The site were in was electric and there were only three non-electric sites in the equestrian campground. The other sites were awesome for shade but were still super open to everyone.

There were great trails for hiking and horseback riding. They also allowed mountain biking on the trails.

The staff at the office were super friendly and they talked to us for about 15 minutes. Their store in the office was pretty great and they had everything from toys for the kids to s’mores stuff and stickers specific to the park. The firewood was pretty fast burning and cost 6$ a bundle so it was pretty spendy since we cook only over the fire.

The main campground was VERY busy and jammed packed. The sites were too close together and open for my comfort.

The beach was very dirty and there were army worms everywhere crawling on everything.

We took a little bike ride to the group camp which was an amazing area with a very nice shelter with electric.

All in all, this is a good park to go to if you are looking for a park close to the twin cities metro area.

Do Not Camp In June

We had a terrible experience last year trying to camp here, BUT it’s not the campgrounds fault!

Unfortunately we chose the peak of mosquitos season and camping next to slow moving water is a recipe for disaster. It was also a very hot weekend. We showed up and set up camp and within the first hour our dog was clearly stressed by all the bugs. He ended up hiding in the car and soon after his face swelled up and he got very sick. Within 3 hours of showing up we had to pack up and head home to get him safe and comfortable. Do not fret, our boy was okay and thankfully the family across from us (in an RV) has Benadryl for their dog they gave to us. We don’t travel or camp without proper bug spray and meds for our dog now so lessons were learned.

Long story short we would love to come back when the bugs aren’t as bad!

A Landmark

Great during every season!

Gorgeous!

A beautiful fall camping trip!

Interesting Typography

Very cool exploring the rock cliffs along the river, including the glacially created “potholes”, otherworldly! Nice campground close to the water! We camped early in the season before the mosquitoes.

Always Great

We’ve camped multiple times at gooseberry falls at different times of the year and it never disappoints. We also love hiking the park in winter. This is one of my favorite places to camp and spend time outside. The water is fun to walk thru and the hike is easy and enjoyable.

Basic RV park outside Duluth

This is a small, well kept but basic private campground mostly for RVs but it does have some tent sites. The website advertises its location as “minutes from Duluth” but that would be a hood 15 minutes to the outer limits, a good half hour to the harbor. It isnt on a lake or in the woods, doesnt have a view of Lake Superior, isnt near a state park, and is right on a major intersection of two highways. I dont think it is meant as a northwoods vacation destination per se, but it is located adjacent to a rodeo and horse center so I would guess it is best for lodging close to whatever horsey events are happening next door. Since it isnt far from the Duluth airport and the airport has no hotels by it, perhaps this would be a decent place to stay overnight before an early morning departure, if needed. In sum, a well maintained but basic place to camp that might be a good location for select purposes. Daily, weekly, monthly and seasonal rates.

Relaxing & Quiet

We had a site at the Oak Ridge campground. Each site was very enclosed by trees & it made it really cozy & private. We went down to the lake to see it, but didn’t go swimming so I have no opinion of it. The Lakeside campground looked nice too so I’ll have to try to reserve a spot on that side sometime in the future. We were only there one day so we didn’t explore a whole lot.

Awesome place

The place is beautiful. A lot of trails to go on. Lots of sun so bring your sunscreen.

Serenity

We always stay in the cabin. It’s a remote paradise! The price is right. Refrigerator, microwave, queen bed along side a bunk; double on the bottom bunk and a twin up top. The neighborhood is welcoming.

Headwaters of the Mississippi River

Great place to see and visit! Lots of opportunities to photograph! Enjoyed geocaching as well.

Family owned & operated

Peaceful and serene, at the end of the road. Family camping RV sites have playground right there. Paddle Boats available and swimming beach. Right on the lake so kids spent a lot of time in the lake and on the lake fishing. Shower house has bathroom and washer & dryer.

Nice relaxing weekend watching boats

This is such a nice park. All spots have a lake view and the beach is within walking distance. We love it here. It’s not to easy to get spots on the holiday weekends, but somehow we managed it

Amazing

This place is simply amazing. Beautiful lake side spots, friendly hosts, and clean restrooms. You can’t go wrong staying here!!!

Great for tent camping but not so much for Rv/travel trailer camping

We planned a huge family camping trip this year and the lovely Chippewa Loop campground in the Chippewa National Forest was the camp ground that we had the honor of staying at! We had three sites, 79, 80, and 81 with 17 people total. 9 Adults and 8 kids ranging from ages 7 to 1. The campground is right outside Cass Lake Minnesota that had a nice grocery store, a pretty weird liquor store, a family dollar, and a fishing pier if you didn’t have a boat. It was about a half an hour outside of Bemidji, Mn that has a lot of history from Minnesota and a great fireworks display over the lake on the Fourth of July. The City of Bemidji has a lot a little boutique shops if you are into shopping while on camping trips. It also had a cute little ice cream store that we took all the kids to across from the Paul Bunyan and Babe the blue ox statue and a nice park for the kids to play at right off of Lake Bemidji. If you’re into craft breweries Bemidji also has a brewery called Bemidji Brewing right in town. There’s also a Walmart, Target, Home Depot, and a dollar tree amongst other stores if you have that “I forgot list”.

Site number 80 was the best to put up a travel trailer, but it was also extremely close to site number 82 and practically joined site number 82. We ended up putting our Jayco Eagle 30 foot travel trailer in site number 81 because with everyone else tent camping and we were the only one with a travel trailer, we felt this site was the best to park our travel trailer in because it was the least level site and only had one small pad for a tent. Site number 79 and 81 were joined together by a path that made it easy for us to all eat in one site. We all pretty much congregated in site number 81. We put most of our tents, three to be exact, in site number 80 because it was the most level and open for tents. The site was capable of having two large cabin tents and a small 4 person tent comfortably. Site had a lot of good pine trees for hanging Hammocks but, like I said before, it was almost right on top of site number 82 so we decided to only put up the 3 tents and congregate across the road in site number 81 as to not disturb the other site occupants. It was pretty frustrating that that was the most level site because it was also the best one to park a travel trailer in and have an awning out and a picnic table but we couldn’t do it because we didnt want to disturb the other site with 17 people.

Site number 79 had a good drive pad but the tent pad was extremely un-level. we put up a single pole tipi in that site because the people in that site had cots and didn’t mind sleeping on an incline. When I say incline, I mean incline, the tent pad was not level at all which is kind of frustrating. Site number 79 was the least friendly for hammocks so we hung all her hammocks in site number 81.

Site number 81 is where we decided to put up the trailer but the trailer pad was super un- level. We ended up making a Walmart run to get two more packs of leveling blocks and we use three packs of leveling blocks to make it level with room to have our awning and out. Right behind the travel trailer was a sloped hill that went down to the fire pit and a tent pad that was also on a slight incline which we were up by eight person tent there but that person had a raised air mattress and didn’t mind sleeping on an incline. Attached to site number 81 was also the path to the showers that was right down the hill. It worked out great because the showers and the bathrooms were so close to our site but we felt like the trees were blocking everything from our site.

We took a lot of bike rides and got to see a lot of the other sites and they had a lot of good tent sites in some of the other loops and it seems like all of the electric sites were not as great as the tent sites. All of the electric sites seem to be un-level and not a great place to pitch a tent as well as having the camper.

The park itself was very beautiful had a lot of nature things like milk weed and monarch butterfly’s everywhere and a beautiful swimming beach that was about waist high (4 feet deep) for about 300 to 400 yards out from shore. The beach was great for swimming and kayaking and you could dock a boat on the sandy beach and eat lunch if you wanted to. We ended up catching 40 crawfish and doing a crawfish boil, which the kids absolutely loved. The picnic shelter was pretty awesome too, very shaded and on a rougher part of the beach. There was a really long bike path that went through all of the loops and the main road was super bike friendly as well.

In the visitor center there was a really cool area for the kids to go to play if it was too hot or rainy, or if you just wanted to be indoors for a little bit. They had a bike decorating event and we brought all the kids bikes and decorated them. There was a little gift shop and they also gave out free stickers which we ended putting on our camper as we do at every park we get a sticker from.

Each camp ground loop also had a campground host that sold firewood, three bundles for $10. The firewood was pretty bad and some of it was wet and it burned really really fast. But like every park in Minnesota you can’t bring your own firewood unless it’s kiln dried lumber or something like that within a certain number of miles of the place you are camping.

A few downsides to this park where there’s no official places to fill water up for your camper and no official place to dump your black and grey water tanks from your camper. You end up having to go to another park and pay to dump your camper. This could be a problem if you are staying for an extended time and use a lot of water. There also wasn’t a whole lot to do aside from biking and hiking and swimming like there was a leech lake recreation area we were at a few days prior to this trip. The restrooms and showers were pretty unkempt and dirty. Everyone but me and my sister had cold showers every time they went to take a shower.

All in all the park is very beautiful and I had some very good attributes like friendly staff, clean campsites and secluded campsites where you didn’t feel like you are right on top of the other site aside from site 80 and 82. It seemed like there were three or 4 sites together in groups and then a little ways away there were a few more clumped together.

I don’t know if we would actually come back to this park because the sites weren’t as big as they seemed in the pictures online and we felt cramped most of the time. There wasn’t a good space in the sites to put up games like corn hole or ladder ball which made it a bit boring at times to just stay at camp. We spent a lot of time at the beach.

Scenic views

First time ever at Jay Cooke State Park. Great campground with lots of hiking trails to get beautiful views of the St Louis River. There were brand new bathrooms and showers which was a nice surprise. We had the only pull thru site #46e and was just across front the new bathroom facilities. It did have a lot of foot and car traffic but the nice wooded sites still gave us privacy. Crossing the swinging bridge gives you the wonderful views up and down the river and grants access to some nice hiking trails. The soil at Jay Cooke is clay, so wet trails are very slippery as well as the rocky terrain is slick when wet too. Be sure to see the big stone which is located in one of the campsite loops. Saw my first ever - pink lady slipper flower. My Verizon cell service was pretty much non existent at the campsite. There was WiFi at the front office in the event that you need your phone. Loved Jay Cooke and hope to get back there again.

New campground but a few missing pieces

We stayed at site 312E, pull through site which made it convenient with the boat. We tent camp and it had a nice flat grassy spot for the tent with ample room for the screened in shelter. (+’s)

  1. New campground - bathrooms were nice and everything was freshly paved
  2. Not that many sites which mean overall traffic was low
  3. Boat ramp was within park
  4. Soudan mine tours were awesome
  5. Within reasonable driving distance to Ely which has the wolf center, shopping, etc
  6. It has WiFi!!! This was huge for the kids - devices were ON

(-‘s)

  1. No view of the lake
  2. No beach
  3. Garbage was 3/4s of a mile away - made taking the trash out a pain
  4. No playground

We didn’t do any biking but should bring the bikes next time as the paths look good.

I see this campground more for RV and non-kid groups.

No Overnight Camping

Called Rothsay PD. Need City Councils approval first.

Peaceful

We stayed here for two nights over the 4th of July. A little crowded on the river front but our site was tucked into a more secluded area not far from the river. The hosts were very nice and accommodating. This campground does not take reservations. It is on a first come basis. We had no problem finding a place to park here. No showers but water and electric were available, only vault toilets but they are kept up very well. No designated swimming area. There was however Horseshoe and bag pits, a small game room and at least one cabin for rental. Self serve pay station with firewood to purchase also. It was a very quiet place and there were many families with children who were playing on the small playground, shooting hoops, fishing, and riding bike. Many biking and hiking trails close by. It is very close to Jay Cook State Park. We enjoyed our stay.

NO WATER ON TRAIL 4TH JULY WEEKEND 2019 (FILL UP AT VISITOR CENTER)

This may be an ongoing issue but none of the fwater faucets or water pumps on the trails at Afton State Park are working. The good news is you can fill up on cold drinking water at the visitor center before trekking around the park's beautiful hiking trails!

Great experience!

We had a wonderful time. The park has everything! Even rented a pontoon for the day and cruises all around the lake. Only problem - closest grocery store is 20 minutes away. There is a small convenience store nearby - they were life savers!!

Awesome and extremely clean and quiet

While at Leech Lake Recreation Area we stayed in site number 33 which was the electric site with our 30 foot Jayco Eagle travel trailer. There was enough room in the site for a travel trailer truck and probably another tent or screen tent. The other sites were close but not too close. if another travel trailer or RV pulled in it would block our view from their fire ring. The pad was all dirt and you can only set up on the dirt and not on the grass around it. The trees around the site were perfect for hammocks, we hung three of our Kammok brand hammocks. Our only complaint about the site was that the fire pit was dug down into the ground making it kind of unsafe if you had children and the fires didn’t stay lit very well because there was no oxygen going underneath them, so you’re constantly fanning it which was annoying because we cook with cast-iron over the fire for every meal.

We were able to go and take a walk to the lake which is super short walk from pretty much any of the sites but really close from our site. The sunset over the lake were stunning and a loon hung around the dock while we fished.

We took a lot of bike rides around the campground looking at each site and going to the park which was absolutely amazing for the kids. They had basketball courts, a huge playground that was amazing quality, shuffleboard, volleyball, badminton, and a picnic shelter that you could rent out with the cooking area inside the picnic shelter. There are pit toilets and bathrooms close to the playground so that isn’t an issue with little ones. The playground area is a great place to hang out with adults and children.

We took a bike ride to the tent sites as well and found that there are pretty close together and right next to a main road that was kind of noisy. They would probably be good if you got all four at once with a group of people. The dump station for the RVs was right next to the tent sites to which would probably be annoying to see all the RVs on a busy day dumping at the same time.

The federal Dan was a magnificent sight but it was pretty hard to fish around that area without a boat going on the leech lake because of the fast-moving water. They’re also wasn’t an area to swim because it would be unsafe which is kind of a bummer but the playground made up for it.

The park is run by the Army Corps of Engineers volunteers and they were super friendly and kept everything clean and sanitary which was amazing. There was even Washers and dryer’s to do laundry for free and amazing shower facilities that they called comfort stations. Everything was borrow on the loan and bring back which included all of the equipment at the park like basketballs badminton shuffle board stuff and rakes shovels and stuff to clean up your campsite.

All in all this would be a park that we would definitely come back to you and spend a week and possibly have a group of people with kids because it’s a super cool friendly kid park.