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.
Very nice camp site
This is one of the few places that you can camp in twin cities metro. Both car and RV camping is allowed. Some of the tent sites do have power as well. Bathrooms and Showers are centrally located. Firewood is available for purchase. The camp grounds are located near the Lebanon Hills mountain biking area and miles of day hiking trails. Camping is only permitted in this area and it's not open in the winter.
I've never been to an equestrian camp before, and this was a surprise! I didn't know it was one until I arrived. But surprise or not…it was a happy accident to find the Shell City Equestrian Camp. What a beautiful little place to drop a tent, even if you didn't have a horse! And even though there was snow on the ground and a serious chill in the air, I still had the gitty up and go to make some Mountain House Beef Stew, but this time, with a twist!
Shell City Equestrian Camp (and sister Shell City Camp) are run by Itasca State Park, so any info about this campground can be found under the State Park website. When I set out for the day, I anticipated finding a campground on the river, and I did find one there, but I didn't know they had a sister camp for horses. They are both located off the same road, but the equestrian campground had two ways to get in. Both are equally good, but come from different directions. The road is gravel/dirt and not a bad drive, but being unpaved, it's a bit bumpy. Be gentle when you drive. I visited in the winter, so I had snow on top of bumps and ruts and my all wheel drive was appreciated. I don't think I'd want to drive the 1/2 mile on this road in deeper snow.
Near the entrance, there are a few campsites with picnic tables and because the road into the campground is off the beaten path, I doubt there would be much traffic to bother anyone. Just past these sites are hitching posts and more campsites around a large, open area that I assume would be for horse trailers and campers (note there are no hookups here). Around the perimeter are more picnic tables, fire rings and a scattering of horse pens set in the woods. Very quaint! There was even a three stall covered horse stable (three sided). The campground also had a pit toilet and water pump for horses and people. Even if I didn't have a horse (and I don't), this would be a lovely place to drop a tent for the night. There were even horse trails to explore. Even though I didn't stay the night here, it was a great little find in the middle of the woods!
Cost for this spot was $16/night on the honor system at a drop box near the entrance.
As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I occasionally have the opportunity to test amazing products from incredible companies and this time, I had the pleasure of trying out Mountain House Beef Stew, but on top of the product testing, I had a culinary challenge! I was asked to create a new dish from this freeze dried meal, and my tastebuds were rewarded!
This beef stew is a medley of tummy pleasing comfort foods wrapped into a meal that's perfect for a blustery day. Beef, potatoes, carrots and peas with a gentle sprinkle of spices. Seriously yummy by itself as long as you have enough patience to give it the time it needs to absorb the hot water. These meals are fully cooked, but since they are freeze dried, they take time to re-hydrate, so add the water, zip up the special bag that allows you to "cook in the bag" and walk away. Set up your tent. Hang your hammock. Go to the bathroom. Just wait…and stir…and wait. And then YUM! Absolutely worth having a little patience.
But then there's more…
I turned mine into East Indian Couscous Stew.
I was asked to take this meal and turn it into something else to tempt the tastebuds, and I wanted to keep it simple so that it could be done on the trail. What better way to keep the body nourished than to keep the flavors interesting so you actually want to eat it? I found a simple recipe at home to make an East Indian Spice Blend and then added in some plain couscous. Here's how I modified the prepared meal.
Indian Spice Blend: (mix all together and put in a little shaker)
2T Curry powder
2T Cumin powder
2 t Turmeric powder
2 t Coriander
1 t Ginger powder
1/2 t Cardamom powder
1/2 t Cinnamon powder
Recipe: I opened the Beef Stew package and added 1/2 cup of plain couscous and 1 T of spice blend. Then I added about 4 oz of extra water (beyond what the package called for) to compensate for the re-hydration of the couscous. Then, follow the package directions and that's it. Voila! Tummy yummy goodness! I served it with tortillas to bulk up the meal a bit.
note I had a little trouble with the zipper on this bag. I don't know if it ripped, or if the cold outside made the zipper brittle, but I couldn't get it zipped back up for the required "sitting" time. So I kept spilling the water while trying to agitate the bag. No harm, just a little frustrating.
The package says it contains 2.5 servings, but I don't know any "half" people, so I'll say two servings, and I'll say that's probably two hungry women. Especially since the couscous adds more bulk to the meal. A very hungry man could probably eat this alone, but you'll need to make sure you can divide this up in one sitting, because extra leftovers won't keep well on the trail. But I've never been hiking or camping when I couldn't find a willing guinea pig needing free food!
Great little campground, hot, filling meal on a chilly, snowy day. Perfection!
Shell City Campground is in the Huntersville State Forest. If you want to camp in the woods, you want to be in the woods. Even if you are in a city. This camp is off the beaten path, without being "out of the way". Making your way there in any season without snow is certainly going to be easier, but even if there is a little snow, you'll be fine as long as you have all wheel drive. And it was really quiet! Such a pretty view!n I didn't get a chance to stay here (it's winter right now), but with only a small amount of snow on the ground, it made it easy to get a really good feel for how it might be.
Only a short distance off the main road, this isn't hard to find as long as you follow the signs. And don't get distracted by the "horse camp" sign like I did. Yes, there is a horse camp there, but if you drive just past the horse camp, you'll find a very clearly marked path to the regular tent camping sites. They are only a hop, skip and a jump apart, though, so they are easy to get to one from another.
This campground is accessible from the road if you are driving and the river if you are canoeing (and I suppose if you happen to be hiking in the area, it's easy to get to as well). If you came off the river, it's a very easy "in" from the water. Two entrances are available. One is a dirt landing that you ease into (boat landing style with a little, tiny lot for a car to pull into) and…you're there! The other comes up to about 6 wooden stairs, but nothing hard about it at all. If by car, the road winds down a tiny path and into the campsites. Easy breezy.
There is room for RVs, the sign says, and they are the same price as tents.
Tents are $14 (or you can put a camper on the site for the same price, but no hookups), or you can rent it as a "group site" for $28 (20 people max). Now I'm not sure what that means, but $28 seems awfully cheap to rent the entire place. It's not a giant campground, but there's plenty of room. All pads are within view of the river and there are plenty of trees (mainly pine) for hammocks. And the wind in the trees is divine! Ever so often you can hear a bit of road noise, but it's incredibly minimal. Especially if the wind is blowing.
There were several pit toilets. Very unusual to have more than one in a camp of this size, but nice, nonetheless! There was also a water pump for drinking water that was very easy to pump. The sites have picnic tables and fire pits too. The view of the river was my absolute favorite because it's at a bend in the river, so you can see both ways. This time of year, the ice was forming, but the water was still moving. It made for very pretty photos!
I can't wait to pitch a tent here in the spring!
This is a state forest campground located a few miles down a back forest road west of McCarthy Beach state park. It is a good back up for overflow from the state park, or an alternative for those who want access to McCarthy Beach but prefer a quieter more rustic camping experience. Water tap and outhouses provided, no showers or hookups. Many sites along a nice little lake shore
This group site is in a stellar location on beautiful Elk Lake withon Itasca State Park. You can drive in, hike or bike in, or boat in. The campground can accomodate small rvs and tents, though there are no hookups. There is a large screened in shelter perfect for cooking or group activities. There is a good canoe landing on the lake adjacent to the site, though you do have to access it via stairs to the lake. At the camp site there is a water faucet, picnic tables and shelter tables, and outhouses. Firewood is provided. Private secluded location for large family groups, scout troops, etc. The location is amazing but the facilities are older and showing their age hence the 4 rather than 5 star rating.
This is a typical rustic state forest campground, with basic amenities but meant for a quieter and simpler experience than a stste park. Water is available from a campground spigot, but no hookups of any kind. Outhouses are provided, but no bath houses. The setting is on a beautiful lake with a great boat landing, good for fishing and apparently also for duck hunting as the landing was packed. There is a large group picnic shelter as well as a hiking trail. Campsites are large and spacious, though primarily set back in the woods. Good info kiosks for nature watchers.
This was such a great campground. The state park is absolutely gorgeous and the camp sites are no different. The sites with electrical hook up are less private, but it’s a family camping site so it’s very friendly. The sites without any hookups are more private and secluded, great for tent camping. There are lots of walking trails as some fishing spots as well. We absolutely loved it here and will definitely be back!
We were visiting our daughter in nearby Winona, MN. This place is also close to La Crosse WI. We stayed here three nights. We had very loose plans and called for a tent spot six months before our reservations. I was impressed Sandy, from front office, remembered me and our conversation. We upgraded to a cabin because rain and cold nights were expected. The cabin was the one for 4 people. The bed was really comfortable! There was a queen and a set of bunk beds. The cabin is small. Besides the bed there was one chair, a table, and a heater. No bathroom. The heater didn't work and it was replaced promptly. Cute little porch with a swing seat. It was all we needed so it was fine. The bathrooms were exceptionally clean. Hubby and son had a good hot shower, mine took awhile to heat up and stay heated. Laundry room was clean. There was a rec room with a pool table and pinball machines. There's a pool there but it was empty when we got there. Too cold to swim anyway. A large shelter area has a gas grill we were able to use. The two 4-person cabins are right by the entry way. You are far enough from the highway that traffic noise is not a problem. The main tent/RV area is behind the office. The sites are close together. The bigger cabin has a half bath and is in this area but a bit secluded.There's a playground for kids near the tent area. There is a creek that runs through the campground and you have the great Mississippi river on the other side of the highway. I really can't say enough though about the customer service of this place. Sandy was very accommodating to our changing needs. Even let us use the dump station a day early. I would stay here again. There aren't a lot of options in Winona and this was the least expensive and friendly!
This campground was clean and well kept. The owners were very friendly and worked hard to meet the camping needs of our family which included nine adults and seven children. The showers and bathrooms were clean. The playground had enough equipment to keep our children busy with plenty to do while we prepared meals.
Lambs resort sits on beautiful Lake Superior. We walked the lakeshore and walked up and swam in the river edging Lambs resort. My only hesitation about writing this review is Lambs resort might become to popular.
This is an impressively well run campground nestled on both sides of the Gull River and on the shores of Gull Lake. The campsites are very large and impeccably maintained, there are several bathhouses, and many of the sites have electric hook-ups for those who want them. There is a picnic area, playground, and fishing pier on the river, and another playground at the beach on the lake. There is a full boat launch with double docks, also hiking trails, access right in to the Paul Bunyan state bike trail, and close proximity to several nationally ranked golf courses.It is a pretty great location for a family vacation at the lake without being too rustic and remote, for those who like to be outdoors but have a variety of tourist and outdoor activities to do. I would also mention that the campground really is nicely handicapped accessible, with broad open campsites, accessible bathrooms, and paved trails, so this would be a good place for folks in wheelchairs or scooters. Overall I really wish I could give the campground a 5 star rating as the facilities and setting really deserve it; however, the lake has been recently found to have invasive zebra mussels, which is a serious problem. Fortunately I didnt see evidence of them at the beach, but they are everywhere at the boat landing.
When I visited, the entrance was blocked and office closed. This is in the vicinity of Walker Bay, which is a primo location on Leech Lake, but it is not on the lake itself but set in a mature forest nearby. From the looks if it, it appears to have seasonal rentals that allow overwintering in the off season, the campground currently has a minimal Facebook page but no active website that I could find. I think this is more of a long term private RV and trailer park and may not have facilities for daily or weekly camper stays. It appears to be a decent campground, but I didnt see additional amenities aside from campsites and hookups, and it isnt actually on the lake, so I only gave it 4 stars. Probably best to call for info if you think you might be interested in camping here.
This campground is really a hidden gem that i never knew about even though it is within an hour drive of my home. It is a rustic state forest campground with great campsites located in a gorgeous oak-birch-pine forest and right on a pretty lake. Although the campsites are karge enough to accomodate RVs, there are no hookups and no amenities like a bath house, so the campground favors tent campers. Many of the sites are right on the lake, including oarking space, tent pad, fire ring and picnic table, and each of these have a small lake access for swimming or launching a canoe or kayak. There is also a day use area with beach and boat launch, plus a nice nature trail. You can enjoy a quiet family weekend in the deep woods here, but still pop into the town of Pillager which is only 10 miles away. Well kept, quiet and peaceful
I am not an RV camper, but thought I would visit as I was passing by and this campground had no reviews yet. For RV camping, this spot is very nice, very upscale for an RV park, and rental of a camp site not only comes with full electric water and sewage hookups but also a slip at the marina. The grounds are immaculate, and the setting on Gull Lake and near Love Lake is very pretty and will appeal to fishermen and boaters fir sure. The only downside is that there is no daily or weekly rental possibility, only monthly or seasonal. The monthly rate is 2500$ for one month, but the seasonal rate for five months (May to October) is 5500$ inclusive. If you hsve you own RV and boat and want to park them for the summer season and go back and forth between home and “The Lake”, this seems like a reasonable option as the price is right and the campground is nice. I am giving it a 4 star rating rather than 5 because of the lack of short term camping options, and also it doesnt seem family friendly in terms of amenities like playgrounds, but I think adults would really enjoy it!
If you like boats and boating and the water, this would be a good place to be, but if you are looking for peace and quiet, I doubt it'll be all that. This is mainly an RV camping park for those that have boats. It has a waterway in the campground with slips that you can rent for your boats. There are, however, a few tent sites that are kinda cool!
Most of the RV camping is pretty cramped. But I suppose if you have a boat, you'll probably be on it most of the time. That said, it would do the job. Maybe most people stay on their boats at night? There is also firewood for sale, which is convenient, but I don't know how much it cost. They seemed to be pretty well closed for the season. They did have electric hookup and sewage drains too. And for those that were feeling a little less outdoors-y, they had a few cabins for rent on the water.
There are only a few tent sites, and they are in an obscure spot, but it'd actually be a pretty cool place to drop a tent if you wanted something unique. The tent site(s) are on a little point near the water. It's actually on the opposite side from the RV camping, and they are separated by a little waterway that is the inlet/outlet for the area where the boat slips are. So boats would be passing in and out all the time. If you are the private type, this might not be ideal. But if you were looking for something different, it might be fun. However, there is no bathroom nearby that I could find. There is a fire ring and picnic table. And the coolest part…there is a small lighthouse type structure that is simply a screened in building with a table and chairs. It's screened in and the windows can be closed. So, essentially a bug free zone in the summer. Love it! Right next to the tent area. Although it's not clear if these sites are for rent for the general public, or just for friends and family of the boat/RV people. I see conflicting information about this.
We went in looking for the non-electrical side of the park. Drove around and around until we finally realized that part was closed. (It was after hours so there was no one to ask.) We had no option but to take a RV site. We are self contained in a van. The next day we explained we didn't use the electricity. The water was frozen and unusable even if we did want that. No picnic table to use. Paid $44 for their "deluxe" site. There was nothing deluxe about it; the premium price in spite of it supposedly being a Good Sam place. We went here because it was on the Good Sam recommendation. No discounts given because, we were told, they are not "Good Sam." Confirmed they got the rating but then don't have to sign up to give the discounts. I blame Good Sam for allowing this. Might have been ok except that the staff the next day was not friendly or helpful at all. We requested the manager call us. It took her three days to call back and left a message, " I don't know why I'm calling" and hung up. And their WiFI was horribly slow.
This is absolutely my favorite campground in the area. The park is stunning on horseback in the fall time. Whether hiking or riding this park hasn't been a disappointment yet! The campground is well dispersed and each spot has a little privacy of its own (for the tents.) The equine is considered a little closer but there is plenty of space for each person and their trailer.
This is a great location if you are just getting into the camping lifestyle. The easy to drive to camp sites and flat geography make it easy to find that perfect spot. If you want to fall asleep and wake up to the sound of running water, you are able to get a site near Buffalo River. If planning on hiking with younger children, the trails around the camp site are very easy as the offer very little elevation change and are very well groomed. The park itself is very pretty all year round whether it's in spring/early summer and seeing the wildflowers and prairie smoke or the fall and the dazzling display of colors.
Each site at the cart-in campground was secluded from view from the others. Mine was right along the water with a path down to a small beach and rock outcrop, nice for sitting and watching the water. The one downside was that the road is so close you can hear cars going by at night. Traffic is fairly light in the evening so it's not too bad, but it did detract some from the ambience. This campground did not connect directly to the rest of the trails - it was a 10 minute walk or so to get to the main trails.
Drinking water had already been turned off for the season, but the bathroom still had running water and flush toilets in mid-October. Easy access to hiking trails. My site was close in distance to adjacent ones, but was on the edge by the creek, so it was pretty quiet. None of the cart-in sites were vacant the night I stayed, but those looked lovely as well.