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.
Clean facilities, friendly help.
Our fam lives in Clearbrook and we always take a day trip to Itasca when we are up visiting. Great lake tour. Didn’t see any moose, though!
Tis campground is beautiful. Bring your bike because everything to see and do is quite a hike if you walk. There are a lot of trails that are perfect for biking. Wish we could spend more time here. Will definitely go back sometime.
Great fishing. You can rent boats, pontoons, kayaks, paddle boards and bikes for Itasca Sports. There’s a big paddle boat/ferry you can ride on. Great restaurant. Gift shop. Bike trails. Beautiful swimming beach. Nice playground. Walk across the headwaters of the Mississippi River.
We were RV camping here, sites were nice sized, bathrooms and showers handy. There is a lot to do- ck out the Mississippi headwaters, the Douglas Lodge, with restaurant. The visitor center has a small historical/wildlife display and you can borrow binoculars to better see the wildlife that abounds. Nice biking trails, hiking. The lake is great for fishing and you can rent canoes/kayaks. There is also a boat tour of the lake with an excellent guide.
I managed to live my first 40 years in Minnesota without ever seeing this wonder, and my kids weren't going to suffer the same feat as me! The campgrounds here are giant with sites that are typical of most state parks, minimal to moderate privacy.
We loved the swim beach and the start of the Mississippi, but we also loved being able to eat a gourmet meal at a natural restaurant. There is lodging for all types at this park.
It is a very large park so to see several things will require some driving (or taking a really long bike ride), but otherwise this one lived up to the hype.
Visited in July of 2017. Not too crowded or noisy. Rented a canoe for a little paddle.
We were unlucky with our weather and it rained on us the entire time. But we have heard great things and can't wait to come back on a sunnier day!
The campground was very big and nice. It had good, clean modern bathrooms and showers. Our campsite wasn't far from hiking and biking trails. We biked to the mouth of the Mississippi River which was super cool to see. The interpretive center had a lot of animals and was informative.
This was our first week long stay at a campground. We had so much fun and left with a list of things we wanted to do next year. The lakes are quiet and peaceful with easy access for kayaks/canoes from Bearpaw campground. There are great biking trails that will lead you through the park to the Mississippi Headwaters. There is also a beach where you can rent bikes, boats and kayaks. This park has miles of hiking trails that we have yet to do.
The campgrounds themselves were a nice size. We had a lake front lot and really enjoyed the view and easy access to the lake and bike trails. The bathrooms were big and clean. Bring your bug spray--the horseflys are huge!