Established in 1891 as an effort to preserve the headwaters of the Mississippi River and its surrounding woodland, Itasca is Minnesota’s oldest state park. Located 100 miles north of Alexandria, and covering an area of more than 32,000 acres, this mixed woodland is dotted with more than 100 lakes, in what is known as “knob and kettle” terrain, formed by glacial deposits and depressions. Within the park, Lake Itasca has a long history of Native American occupation, with many artifacts and burial mounds having been discovered in the area. Today, Itasca State Park gives visitors an opportunity to learn about much of this natural and cultural history, as well as enjoy an abundance of outdoor recreation, including camping, hiking, fishing, boating and more. Itasca State Park offers two campgrounds with more than 220 sites: Bear Paw and Pine Ridge. Both are located in the northeast section of the park, on the east side of Lake Itasca. These locations can accommodate RVs up to 60 feet, and most sites have electrical hookups. There is a limited number of ADA accessible sites in both campgrounds, and Bear Paw has 11 cart-in campsites. Amenities in the campgrounds include drinking water, vault and flush restrooms, showers, and recycling stations; a dump station is available at the entrance to Bear Paw. If you want to get away from the crowds to enjoy the wild side of the park, there are several backpacking camp areas on some of the smaller lakes. Services within the park include a visitor center, interpretive exhibits, boat and bike rentals, gift shop, groceries and a restaurant. Campsite rates range from $15–$31/night. There is no shortage of outdoor fun to be had in the park. Start with a boat tour on Lake Itasca to the headwaters of the Mississippi, on the same route used by Henry Schoolcraft in 1832. There are also seasonal interpretive programs and naturalist tours that highlight the diverse flora, fauna and geology within the park, as well as ample wildlife watching opportunities. If you’re up for some hiking or biking, you’ll find nearly 50 miles of hiking trails, 16 miles of paved bike paths, and a few barrier-free paths to satisfy your wandering whim. A portion of the North Country Trail runs right through the park. There are fishing piers at Lake Itasca and Ozawindib, a swimming beach at Lake Itasca, and boating is permitted at several of the larger lakes. Additional points of interest include the Pioneer Cemetery and Mary Gibbs Mississippi Headwaters Center.