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Nice campground with amenities, pool and water play area for kids. Nice on-site store for any needs. I have a small travel trailer that is self contained so I could reserve spots down by the river. Ability to go tubing down the river. You can even get pizza delivered by the local Chanticlear Pizza!
I give it a 4 star only because twice I ran into the same group of people that thought it was ok to open up their vehicle doors and blast music well into the night. Owner warned them the first time but quiet time isn’t until 11 pm. 2nd trip, I just packed up and left.
Three campgrounds, first come first serve. $10/day entry $40/daily for electric hook up (non-resident); no full hook-ups, no water, only 1 vault toilet open per campground. Year round availability, however- tough to find! Very hard to get a cellular connection (T-mobile). Beautiful views of the river, right along the edge if you tent camp. Multiple playgrounds, hiking trails and loads of nature, large beach and waterfalls.
This is a state park on the Wisconsin side of the St Croix River, which is mirrored by a comparable but smaller state park in Minnesota on the wrst side of the river, both being part of the wild and scenic St Croix National Waterway. Although the campsites themselves are pretty run of the mill, the setting is spectacular in terms of breathtaking scenery, and myriad outdoor activities from rock climbing in the river gorge, paddling the river, hiking miles of trails, and learning geology at the Ice Age geology visitors center. If you are tenting camping, the south loop is great, and if you pick campsite 65 or 67 you will have direct access to the river which is peaceful and good for paddle opportunities. There are picnic areas with swimming along the river which is nice for group gatherings, and one is designated for folks with pets. Some of the rugged hiking trails along the bluffs and cliffs go right along the edge with minimal guard rails or walls, so keep a close eye on kids and pets because going over the edge is a possibility so utmost caution is advised.
Nice State Park kind of in the middle of no where. Super easy access and close to Pipestone National Monument. On a nice little lake with prairie views. Don't recommend for larger rigs. We struggled with our 44ft 5th wheel, only one site could fit us and it was tight to get in and out. All in all its not my favorite but a good place to call base and explore Pipestone and even Sioux Falls.
This is my experience at Shades. We were seasonal campers for 4 years. We should've listened to the warnings and read the reviews beforehand. Pros:(before covid) The activities for the kids, Tubbing, The pond. Some of the the fellow campers are amazing and became a sort of family. It has as very beautiful scenery. And it's not too far from the cities. Cons: Owner does not take care of the place like he should. He did not fix anything around the campground besides getting new signs the whole time we were there. The bathrooms are falling apart, there are huge holes in the ceilings, they are often dirty and not well stocked. Many of the port-a-pottys have huge cracks in the walls to where you are seen by everyone on the outside and the doors do not close properly. They are also often times not well cleaned or well stocked. The campground had several campers contract Crypto 2 years ago due to how the campground and facilities are kept. The showers cost$0.25 for 7 minutes. The mini golf course was in terrible condition and falling apart, they said they were fixing it but never did the entire 2020 season. It just sat there in shambles. They Charge and over charge for everything you do. Each activity has a cost. Or you can buy wrist bands for everything. On holiday weekends expect to pay more than$500 on camping and bands for a family of 4. More than half of the staff was very rude and unprofessional.(we did have some positive experience with other staff members) last year a drunk male staff member was inappropriately touching a female weekend camper in front of everyone thinking it was funny. They did NOT comply with covid guidelines.(We stayed at our own site most of the time due to that) The pool and pound were always full of people. Masks were not always worn inside the store. The barn still held dances and Bingo with people NOT required to wear masks. Minors are constantly driving golf carts around. One of them almost hit my 3 year old daughter. The parks were not well taken care of and leaning. My 4year old son was stung by several bee's that had created a nest at one of them. Many campers drive their golf carts recklessly, drunk and speeding through the campground. Two golf carts ended up having an accident and running into each other because of that.(it happened close to our site where we have small kids that played) and Several campsites would constantly blare their music, sing and yell until 2-3am. So please take from this review what you will, but this was not the"Happy Place" we envisioned.
I’ve already done a review for this park but they have recently renovated it I feel the need to redo it. Spots 1-17 have remained the same and are awesome. Spots 18-46 are second best. Even numbered sites on the lake are better than the odd numbered sites but both have a few of the lake. The rest of the sites ‘unfinished’ - no grass, weeds, and just need more attention. The photos are from site 33
Site 20 has an absolutely outstanding view of Lake Pepin and fall colors. The first and second loops have a mix of tent sites and electric sites, but it was quiet and peaceful. The electric sites seem small, so big rigs are deterred from setting up shop(and generators). The third and fourth loops are non-electric and also pretty closely packed in. The sites on the inside of all the loops are TINY and there’s very little privacy between sites. My top sites would be 5, 19e, 20, 22, 42, 46, and 49 in terms of view and privacy.
Site 20 has adequate privacy between sites—but everyone on the trail can see your campsite, and the trail from the campsite to the bluff trail is right next door. All of this is offset by the gorgeous view. Plenty of trees for hammocks if you’re on the outside circle. The site itself was level and had a very spacious gravel tent area. The fire pit was clean and had a grate on top. Restrooms were clean with lots of social distance signage. When the wind died down, you could easily hear trains—there are several that run nearby.
A couple random notes:
- Firewood is $6/bundle and ice is $3/bag (5 lbs). Both are self-pay with the options of cash, check, or credit card.
- Cell reception for T-Mobile was good.
Washington County, which manages campgrounds at both the Lake Elmo Park Reserve and St Croix Bluffs Regional Park, does a great job of maintaining campgrounds, trails, and bathroom facilities at both parks. St Croix Bluffs is right along the St. Croix river - in the summer you can hang out at the sandy beach on the river and in the fall there are many trails to enjoy fall color.
There are multiple areas in the modern campground - one section is for larger rigs that has 50 amp service and water at each site, most sites in the other loops have 20 or 30 amp electric service, and there are a few non-electric tent-only sites as well. The park prohibits both pets and alcohol! There is both a volleyball court and nice play structure in the modern campground.
We camped over MEA break (mid October) at site #4 this year and liked how close it was to the bathroom building. There is a lot of open space behind the parking/tent pad on this site, which made it a perfect spot for the kids to run and play without running close to other camper's sites. Sites 1, 2, 4, and 6 have similar amounts of open space behind the campsites.
In the past we've stayed here as part of a group in the group campsite. The group campsites at this park are some of the best I've stayed in - they include sand volleyball courts, a covered picnic shelter with electricity, a primitive toilet, and access to a large play structure nearby.