Located on the St. Croix River, just 20 miles east of Saint Paul, Afton State Park is great for those looking for camping near Minneapolis and is 1600 acres of rolling prairies, oak woodlands, and limestone river canyons amid an ancient glacial landscape. The land for the park was acquired in 1967, but it took almost 15 years of planning revisions and compromises with local residents before the park finally opened in 1982. Little development has gone into Afton State Park in an effort to maintain its natural characteristics, and former farmland atop the bluffs are continuously being restored to their original state. This makes Afton an ideal destination for campers looking to experience the outdoors in a wilder setting. Load up your backpack with all you’ll need for your stay, as camping at Afton State Park requires a hearty, 0.75-mile hike in from the parking area. The year-round campground offers 27 rustic sites with picnic tables and fire pits, with options for pitching your tent in either open or wooded areas. There is drinking water, a vault toilet and firewood is supplied within the camp area. There is also three boat-in campsites, and two group campsites that can accommodate up to 60 people each. If you’d rather not rough it, the park also offers four camping cabins and two yurts, some of which are wheelchair accessible. There are also several picnic areas and restrooms within the park. Campsite rates range from $15–$23/night; cabins range from $55–$70/night, and yurts $50–$65/night. When you’re ready to explore, start at the park’s Nature Store where you can pick up information about the park’s flora and fauna, or join a nature walk. Then choose from more than 20 miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails, as well as a short barrier-free path. If you’re visiting in winter, many of these trails are open for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Bring your GPS and go on a geocaching treasure hunt, or bring your binoculars and go on safari for a variety of migratory birds, waterfowl, and wildlife, including deer, foxes and badgers. And little ones will love becoming Junior Park Naturalists and learning about bugs, birds, plants and other critters. If you’re looking for a real outdoor adventure, Afton State Park has what you’re looking for.