The rugged land formations of Jay Cooke State Park enhance the beauty of the hardwood forests and make for great camping near Minneapolis. The water-eroded gorge, steep valleys, and massive rock formations are seen throughout the park. In some seasons, the water of the St. Louis River thunders over slabs of ancient, exposed rock. At other times, it slows to a gentle trickle. Visitors enjoy the scenic splendor of Jay Cooke State Park during all seasons.
Drive-in Sites 79 Sites: Most are wooded sites. In winter, 12 sites are kept available for winter camping. Of these, five are electric sites.
Pull-Through Sites: One Site
Electric Sites: 21 Sites Majority of sites are 20 and 30 amps, some 50 amp.
RV Length Limit: Variable by site up to 60 Feet Length is measured from front of tow vehicle to rear of vehicle being towed.
Wheelchair Accessible Sites: 3 Sites Located near drinking water. Two sites are electric, one is non-electric.
Backpack Sites: 4 Sites Sites are located from 1 to 4 miles from parking area. Each site has picnic table, fire ring and latrine. Campers must haul water or treat water on site. Trail access to these sites has been restored after a 2012 flood, but a few nearby trails remain closed. Please register at the park office for details on how to get to these sites.
Walk-in Sites: 4 Sites Sites are located 50 to 150 feet from parking area.
Group Camp: 2 Sites - Each accommodates up to 25 people Remote, wooded camp with walk-in sites approximately 150' from parking area (limited parking). Carts are provided to carry in camping gear. Water spigot and vault toilets available. Tents only. Lodging
Camper Cabins: 5 Cabins All cabins have a screened porch. Electricity and heat are available year-round. Agate and Basalt cabins are ADA accessible and sleep 5. Slate, Gabbro, and Shale Cabins sleep 6 people. Pets not allowed in cabins. More information on camper cabins.
Awesome views from the Swingbridge. Make sure you do some climbing on the craggy rocks near the river!
One of my favorites by far! Beautiful in spring and in fall! Lots of trails to hike on. Boating is a great option too.
Beautiful area and had awesome trails. I highly enjoy exploring the area and climbing on the rocks.
This park is right before Duluth and is a perfect getaway spot if you don’t want to travel all the way up the shore! The campground has tent, hook-up, and cabin sites. The facilities, while somewhat dated, have always been in good condition and clean on my visits. This seems more like a family campground and is quiet pretty early. The trails are just across the street and are beautiful in all seasons. The bridge history is pretty cool too; go see it! One thing I would note for this park is that it definitely blends with the nearby city, which isn’t a bad thing as long as you’re aware. The town has some great breakfast spots too!
I camped overnight here on a 4 day geocache run from Owatonna, MN to Savannah Portage. I arrived just as dusk was falling. I walked across the bridge and shot a few pictures then decided I had better get a camping spot before it got to dark. Found a site and was able to make the reservation online. I was happy to be set for the night even though cell reception was limited where I camped. I was looking forward to seeing all the great things in the area the next morning. It rained overnight and in the morning I found a beautiful foggy world before me. It made for some very interesting photography. I went back to the bridge and shot more pics, checked out the Pioneer cemetery and continued my dash for the cache!
The main reason we wanted to come to this park was to hike the trails and experience the famous swinging bridge that takes you over the St. Louis River and the rushing rapids below and rocky gorge below. The park dates back to the early 1900’s and its historic character comes from the influence of the Civilian Conservation Corps who made improvements to the park in the 1930’s and 40’s. The park has an 82-site campground and LOTS of activities to keep adults and kids busy.
The campground is what you would expect in a state park with tall trees, shady sites, lots of activities, and popular with families. Roads and sites are gravel and each site has a picnic table and fire pit. Some campsites are long and suited for large RV’s while others are more rustic tent sites and there are 5 cabins for rent. Twenty-one sites have electric hook-ups. If you are looking for more rustic, remote tent sites there are some hike-in sites. Four sites are located 1 to 4 miles from parking area where each site has picnic table, fire ring and latrine but water must be hauled in. About half of the sites are reservable online with the others being first come, first served. What we liked was that this park was very well cared as sites and facilities were very clean. Tall trees provided nice shade and campsites were well-spaced so you didn’t feel like you were on top of your neighbor.
There is lots to do in this park and we were sorry we didn’t have more time to spend. Activities include hiking (over 50 miles of trails including a stretch of the North Country National Scenic Trail), 8 miles of biking trails, 30+ miles of cross-country ski trails, kayaking and fishing. The park offers hundreds of naturalist programs including nature walks, evening campfire talks, fishing programs, and geocaching. Just a short drive north of the state park is Gordy’s High Hat which is a famous hamburger joint that has been around for years and still draws a massive crowd. There is a big enough parking lot to pull your RV into if you need to. Food was great and cheap!
Even if you don’t camp in this park, I think it is well worth the $7/daily admission fee to spend a day enjoying all this place has to offer.
Friend of mine and I couldnt sleep one night…had the next day off work and we just said lets drive up to duluth right now lol. We got there at 530am to jay cook and hiked around!!! The suspension bridge was SO COOL the raging water underneath all the exposed rock and trees! It was awesome def want to come explore this park more!!!
Awesome campground and state park all around. The campsites are surrounded by trees so they are very private and quiet. Hiking along the St Louis river is very cool, a lot of rocks to climb and places to wade and swim in the river. Hiking here could never get old!
The High Landing backpack site is amazing! It's less than a 2 mile hike in unless you take a wrong turn then uh maybe about 4 but I wouldn't know, just guessing… and once you get there you're greeted with a stunning overlook of the St Louis River way below. I loved listening to the constant thunder of the river. We had a nice private trail leading to our spot so no one was ever in eye site or ear shot of us. The pit toilet was pretty far which is great till 2am and the maggots on the open air throne threw me off a bit but hey better than nothing! Late fall left us with a spattering of color and a frosted tent in the morning but hiking was perfect and plentiful in this gorgeous park. The river is a highlight of geologic wonder and the famous swinging bridge does not disappoint.
Even though it rained almost the entire time, we spent a great couple of days at Jay Cooke State Park in MN last June. We went with friends who also had an 8 year old boy. We both rented camper cabins. Our family was in Gabbro and their family was in Shale. The two cabins were separated by 20 feet of forest connected by a footpath through the trees. The boys had a blast running back and forth between the two cabins. The parents were pretty happy to have the screened in porches for listening to the rain and playing several rounds of Mad Libs.
We did a couple of short hikes during breaks in the rain. The suspension bridge was cool and all the boys had fun climbing on the rocks in the gorge and scaring us moms. There are some great trails that run through the area (Willard Munger and North Country National Scenic trails and Duluth is only 15 miles away via bike trail) and I hope to return on a drier weekend to do more hiking.