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We stayed just one night on our way across country. It was mid-week so very quiet and not packed full. The majority of the sites are open and level but not much shade or privacy to be had. The check-in lady was pleasant and accommodating and we were escorted to our site by her husband. We used their laundry room which was very modern and clean, machines take quarters only, no change machine so take care of that when you are in the store/office checking in. The bathrooms and showers were very clean, and cutely decorated with someone’s beautiful artwork of flowers, a nice touch. We would go back if in the area again, but would try for a site that has some trees. You can tell that they work hard to keep the place clean, attractive and friendly.
If easy camping is what you're looking for, this is it. Our 15X15 tent fit in their listed 12X12 spot. Built in grill on fire rings with park bench and table. Potable water available to everyone. Perfect cell reception as it's eyesight to the city of Bemidji. Self serve wood and ice when office is closed. Even a vending machine. Amazing showers for a camp ground, bathrooms ok and clean. If you want to get away while still being in easy driving range of city. Hiking trails are quite a walk but easy and cleared. Beach, dock, sand volleyball court. Some outdoor showers also available but they were buggy when we went mid July.
Itasca is a beautiful park. Gorgeous scenery to enjoy. We saw lots of deer within the park. We loved our stay at the Pine Ridge Campground. We were close to drinking water and the very well maintained modern showers/toilets. There are other campsites within the park that are more rustic if that is what you’re looking for. We will definitely be back!
The Remote campsites at DeSoto Lake provide a Boundary Waters type experience without being far from the towns of Bemidji snd Park Rapids. These campsites have the double distinction of being both on the National North Country Scenic Trail, as well as being in the backcountry region of Itasca State Park. Local NCT members help maintain the trail and campsites, but as the campsites are with the State Park Boundaries, the sites must be reserved through the MN State Park reservations website, with request for Itasca Backpacking sites # 3 or 4. These sites are accessible to NCT through hikers, but access within the park is either through backpacking in in the Nicollet Trail or DeSoto Lake Trail (each a several hour hike in from the Parks Wilderness Drive), or from the Gartner Farm trailhead of the NCT to the west, or the Itasca South entrance parking lot. For those who prefer paddling, the Desoto Portage is about a 15 minute portage from the 113 parking lot to the south shore of DeSoto Lake, then a paddle acroos the lake to the campsite landings.
Both campsites are on a bluff on the northeast side of the lake, with a landing and set of stairs up to the sites. The west site has log benches, fire ring, and room for several tents, and the east site also has a picnic table. Both have access to a pit toilet of the modern type with three walls and a roof, but no door as it is off in the woods facing away from the camping sites and overlooking another nearby lake. From these camp sites you can portage into several nearby lakes that are even more remote and pristine, or you can hike miles in any direction either on the NCT, or in several state park trails that intersect nearby. DeSoto lake itself is full of many islands and small bays where there is abundant wildlife including wild swans nesting. A calm, serene, and beautiful retreat if you dont mind backpacking in at least three miles or portaging a canoe or kayak about a mile. You need to bring your own water, or a water filter as there is no potable water.
Info about remote MN state park camping and link to reservations: https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/remote_camping.html
Info on Itasca State Park: https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/park.html?id=spk00181#homepage
Info on the North Country Scenic Trail, part if the National Park Service’s national trail system: https://www.nps.gov/noco/index.htm
Info on the Laurentian Lakes chapter of the NCT, which maintains the trail to the DeSoto campsites https://northcountrytrail.org/trail/minnesota/llc/
We stayed here a couple of nights. The camp office was nice. Not much for staple grocery items if you needed a few things. Bathrooms were well maintained.
The sites were weedy and very close together. The pool was fine but mini golf course was a disaster, total disrepair.
The campground owners/employees were not very accommodating or flexible. We were camping with one other camper and wanted to park with the campers facing each other. We had pull through sites so this was not a problem. The campground however, would not allow this.
Anyway, to sum up, I do not recommend this place for any sort of extended stay, there are much nicer, friendlier, and more accommodating campgrounds in the area. If you just need a quick stop for the night though? It'll do.
A big park with lots of campsites and plenty of campers. Most of the day visitors congregate in a few areas and, by late afternoon, it's not difficult to find some quiet spaces. While you are camping in the woods, you are always aware that you are sharing the space with many other campers. Your enjoyment will depend upon your patience and tolerance of what your fellow campers feel is "camping".
First time camping at this park in June 2019 and found it to be clean and well maintained. Some short easy trails and part of the Paul Bunyan State trail is their. Great if you bicycle? Jog or simply walk. Sites are pretty level, but not very secluded but you do have distance between sites. Facilities are well maintained and clean.