The best WALK IN camping near
Cooley , MINNESOTA

67 Reviews20 Campgrounds

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Most Recent Cooley Camping Reviews
Remote and Absolutely Gorgeous

This state park is in my top favs. It’s quiet and remote and there’s a lot to explore. We stayed at a remote watercraft site, accessible only by water so that was thrilling!

The landscape here is fun, with the huge peninsula jutting out into the lake, makes for fun canoeing/kayaking with many little areas to explore, and a couple little islands!

The site itself had a rustic log shelter built in it overlooking the lake, very cool.

The Chase Point peninsula is a great hike and has a little boat landing area at the tip of it to so you can start from either end.

Scooped out Chase Point campground though we didn’t stay in it - sites spaced well, quite wooded. Water and toilets spaced out well too, very accessible from anywhere in the park.

Very cool feature is the little boardwalk with docks along Coon lake and campground edge - makes for easy access to park your kayak or canoe and just a fun little morning walk or place to view sunset over the lake. So charming!

Scenic is definitely the word to describe this park!

Love this campground

We’ve camped here at least 3 times, the last in the north group site in July 2017. Biggest drawback is having to buy firewood, not allowed to cut any in the park. Otherwise, it’s clean, lots of nice amenities like fish cleaning building, showers and nice boat ramp. Great Lake to boat on and Zorbas on the lake is fun

Backpack campsite 1

Was hear earlier in summer—not in October as review date states.

Easy 1.5-2 mile hike in. Bring big spray as mosquitos can be bad

There is a bear locker, pit toilet, and a shelter on site. This site is very private.

There is no real way to get down to the pond at the bottom of the camp site.

The trails here are nice for hiking but they aren’t extensive and won’t keep you entertained long. The real reason to come here is for water sports on the main lake. Unfortunately during Covid the rentals weren’t available.

Bring a saw to get firewood—you don’t want to lug the wood on with ya.

Need bug spray

This would’ve been a great campground right on the lake but the mosquito were horrible. There was no amount of bug spray to help.

Great parking lot for travel vans. Free hot showers. Clean.

An extremely safe and pleasant location. You can either use the paid campground or stay in the parking lot, say if you had a sprinter travel van or some such thing. Alternatively if you are tent camping there are a couple nearly hidden campsites that you can use for free right by the canoe landing. A large part of the year clean showers are available and are free! although this fact is not publicized and at certain times of the year they are put under code for campground use only. I find that most the time they are open. A bathroom is attached each shower and can be locked from the inside making it great for a couple to use the facilities efficiently together. This is a one-of-a-kind place that does not exist much anymore. Free shower free camping clean bathroom , great walking trails, Great spot to fish. For a stop alongside the highway it has it all.

Pretty good

Not a terrible place to camp. Great amenities and care taken to clean bathrooms and showers. Walk in tent site was large enough to accommodate a 10x18 tent easily. Raccoons are smart enough to open coolers and non latching totes. Mosquitoes will also sweep you off around 9pm even with bug spray.

A literally Literary Campsite

A literally literary campsite! This is a recently developed campsite for through-paddlers on the Mississippi Headwaters Water Trail. It was developed by a local “River Angel” family who are part of the Mississippi River paddlers group, with cooperation of the city and with funding from the local Blandin Foundation. It is located on the beautifully landscaped grounds of the municipal public library, so you can relax and read while staying at this campsite! For paddlers on the Mississippi Headwaters Water Trail

it is a welcome addition to the area campsite options, especially as paddling through Grand Rapids is slow due to having to portage around two dams en route.  (see map here: https://files.dnr.state.mn.us/maps/canoe_routes/mississippi3.pdf

The campsite is marked from the river with the standard DNR water trail canoe campsite signage. There is a wide easy access from the river, though it doesn’t have a dock and can be a little mucky when the river is high. There is a fire ring and a couple of picnic tables, along with a lockable bear-box which, in this case, could be used to lock up your valuables so you can go into town. Since the campsite is right on a path and bike trail in the city library park, safe storage is important if you want to leave the campsite for any reason . In addition to being adjacent to the beautiful town library and flower gardens, there are many cafes, stores, and more, including a local microbrewery and a great coffeehouse, within an easy block or two walking distance. The campsite location is great, perfect for canoe campers.  Of note if you stop here is an incredible mural that is an in-laid map of the whole Mississippi River, from Lake Itasca to New Orleans. There is no cost to camp here, but camping is limited to paddlers on the water trail, or bikers from the nearby Taconite Trail. Infor on the Taconite Trail is here: 

https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_trails/taconite/index.html

Note: Unfortunately, there are no bathrooms right at the campsite. You will have to use the facilities at one of the nearby businesses.   Prior to covid precautions,  you could have access to the library  bathrooms and access to drinking water there, but hours are now limited.  If you want to access full shower and bathroom facilities you can walk across the bridge that is adjacent to the campsite, over the river to the YMCA on the opposite shore, (there is a visitors fee but reasonably good hours most days.) Access the YMCA website here: https://ymcaitasca.org/operational-hours 

 The lights in the library parking lot adjacent to the campsite do have electrical receptacles if you need to plug in to re-charge anything. There is public wifi accessible outdoors from the library adjacent to the campsite.

Scenic community campground

 This is a small but beautifully maintained city park in the charming village of Palisade. It provides easy access to recreational activities such as fishing and boating on the Mississippi River, and hiking, cycling or riding ATV’s on the nearby the Soo-Line Trail which stretches from Moose Lake to Cass Lake. See info on the Soo Line trail here: 

https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/ohv/trail_detail.html?id=38

There are campsites designed for RV’s and trailers, and other sites perfect for tenters, including sites for through-paddlers on the Mississippi Headwaters Water Trail 

(see water trail map here:  https://files.dnr.state.mn.us/maps/canoe_routes/mississippi4.pdf

 There is a good quality boat landing and ramp, fishing piers, nice full service bathrooms, playground and picnic shelter, and easy walking access to the town center with hardware store, gas, and several nice cafes with good home cooking. The location is very scenic, and the campers seem to be friendly and family oriented. There is are several educational kiosks on the premises for learning about the river which is a nice touch. I would recommend this for paddlers passing through, or as a destination for weekend recreation.

Pleasant camping at Pokegama

Pokegema Dam This is a campground established by the Army Corps of Engineers, adjacent to the Pokegama Dam. Highlights include fishing in the rapids below the dam, or in the still river water above it, camping and relaxing under the tall pines in the campground, canoeing and kayaking on the river, and having a base to explore nearby Grand Rapids and attractions like the Minnesota State Forest History Museum a few miles away. Unless you are here for the fishing on site, though, you will probably use this campground as a base to do day trips in the area, as the campground is not big enough to feature hiking trails and other on-site activities. The campground seems oriented towards RV and trailer camping, with hook-ups and hard packed gravel vehicle access on most sites. A few sites do include sufficient grassy areas for tent camping. Almost all the campsites are located on the shores of the Mississippi River just downstream from the dam, and are sheltered under huge shady pines. The setting is more beautiful and scenic than can be seen from the road when passing by. Unfortunately, that road is the 4-lane highway 2, which provides easy access to the campground, but also adds a bit of road noise to your experience. Plus factors include a thoughtfully designed handicapped accessible campsite, several canoe campsites for paddling the Headwaters Water trail, and easy fishing access via boat landing, the dam itself, and various fishing piers. Everything is sparkling clean and there are bathrooms, showers, potable water, and a kids playground.

Variety of camping options at Big Sandy

This campground is in a sweet location on the banks of hisotric and beautiful Big Sandy lake. There are standard tent and RV sites, as well as camper cabin options. Some of the campsites are close together in the main campground, but there are also walk-in sites avaiable. This location is family friendly with boat launch, picnicking, playground, and hisotrical exhibits about the dam and its history, and about the old furpost that used to be here. The campground is wooded and shady and the lake is very pristine, and very large so you have options for all kidns of boating and water activities. Of interest for hikers is the nearby Savannah Portage State Park wihich has miles and miles of hiking trails, including the famous historic portage through the Floodwood swamp between the Savannah River, St Louis River, and Mississippi River, which was important for centuries during the fur trade era and for native americans prior to that time. This is a beautiful near-wilderness part of the state, and this campground on beautiful Big Sandy is a real asset. For paddlers on the Mississippi River Water Trail, you only have a short detour of less than 1/2 mile up the Sandy River  from its confluence with the Mississippi River in order to access the campground, and it is a great option in an area of the water trail that doesnt have many other options nearby