The best DISPERSED camping near

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Most Recent Winger Camping Reviews

Great campground, clean restroom and shower house, clean spacious and shady sites

Nice place busy

There are a lot of things to do/see here. Headwaters, fish on lake itaska miles and miles of hiking/biking trails. Now the camping its really nice on weekdays and its ok on weekends but weekends have more kids and noise as expected. The major downfall was the FLIES they were insane there were so many one day we had to go inside just to get away. So plan on some fly deterrent method. This trip tought us we need it.

Fun in the great outdoors

A campground away from it all. The sites clean and well maintained. Showers and restrooms were sufficient and clean. It was extremely quiet with heavy wooded areas. All of the sites felt secluded from each other and you really got the outdoor feeling.

A small city

The campground is massive with hundred of people, but it’s possible to get a more private site in the furthest loop- poplar. Ours wasn’t too private and we were surrounded by families with small kids. But the staff park has plenty to do and is well-worth a visit!

Ranger Review of Eclipse Sunwear at Stumphges Rapids Landing

Campground Review: The Stumphges Rapids Canoe Landing is a stop on the Mississippi Headwaters Water Trail. It has a primitive dispersed campsite that lies with the river buffer zone that is part of the Mississippi Headwaters State Forest, but the DNR is no longer maintaining it as a full scale Water Trail canoe campsite, eg there is no water pump, latrine or Adirondack shelters such as at Coffee Pot Landing or Wanagon upstream or Pine Point downstream. Although on a bluff overlooking one of the more pristine sections of the Headwaters, the campsite itself has seen better days. There is a clearing for tents and parking, a fire ring with stump seats, and a beautiful bench overlooking the sandy but steep trail to the canoe landing. Be prepared to bring your own water, and to Leave No Trace when you visit the woods for an al fresco potty stop. For those who appreciate a very rustic campsite in a secluded state forest location, you might choose this spot to either drive in or paddle in, but it is not as nice as Coffee Pot or Fox Trap, which are your next closest full canoe campsites on the Water Trail. Whether driving or paddling, the site is not really accessible during the winter season although you probably could ski or snowmobile in for winter camping. I give the river location itself a full five points, but the campsite itself just a 3 at best

Brochure and map for the Mississippi Headwaters State Forest:

Map of the first hundred miles of the Headwaters Water Trail:

Directions to the Stumpghes Rapids Landing and adjacent dispersed campsite are at this link:

Product Review of Eclipse Sunwear protective clothing:

As a Ranger for the Dyrt, I sometimes have the chance to try new products and review them for the Dyrt camping community. The Eclipse Sunwear shirts are a relatively new brand of sun protective clothing, and I tried both the hooded shirt in mint green and the electric yellow shirt. You can see an example of them here: PROS:For health reasons, I have been advised to be cautious about sun exposure, which is a challenge as I do a lot of outdoor recreation and I also work outdoors. The Eclipse Sunwear is pretty awesome at protecting from sunburn and minimizing sun exposure without use of sunscreen lotion, as the fabric screens out UV light. The shirts are made of a lightweight stretchy fabric that is really cool and comfortable to wear doing anything from kayaking to carrying gear for field work. You can wear them swimming and they dry quickly. The hooded shirts are sleek and comfy and have extra pockets, one dedicated to holding your cell phone and keys which is real handy. There are a variety of nice colors, you can choose to “blend in” with natural outdoor colors, or for safety you can choose their fluorescent colors to be seen when biking or hiking or working alongside roads. CONS: The only con is that the sleeves have open vents on the undersides. These may be meant to keep you cool with airflow in a spot that isn’t exposed to the sun, which may be great at the beach or on the water, but it gives access to mosquitos when you are in the woods. I am thinking about sewing up the vents in mine for that reason.

Ranger Review: Mountain House Hash at Itasca's Deer Park Lake


Itasca State Park is a primo destination in northern Minnesota for folks interested in exploring the headwaters of the Mississippi River. There are several campgrounds, group camps, cabins and lodge accomodations in the park that suit most visitors. But for folks who want a wilderness experience while at the headwaters, there are miles of wilderness trails in the backcountry area on the southern end of the park—and there are campsites and Adirondack shelters scattered throughout the myriad glacial lakes of this backcountry, enough so that you could backpack by foot or on snowshoes or cross country skis for a week through the territory, staying at a different lakes every night. April in Minnesota means we are still winter camping—but despite the snow, the sun is bright and warm, and it is great to get out into it. The park is at its peak of solitude in the winter, but if you can find a way to get to a campsite, they are open and reservable. This review is for Remote Campsite 11, located on an isthmus between Coffee Break Lake and Deer Park Lake. It is a several mile hike in from the nearest parking areas, either via Mary Kake and the Ozawindib Trail, or via the Deer Park Trail from Douglas Lodge. The trail is rolling and maintained for cross country skiers, snowshoers and snowhikers in the winter. This campsite is located just past the Ozawindib Adirondack Shelter, which is a good backup if its too windy or cold at the campsite. The campsite itself is down a hill by the lakeshore, between two lakes actually, on a rise that overlooks both. There is an additional campsite nearby on the south end of Deer Park Lake, campsite 10. There is a tent pad sheltered under the tall pines (and currently under the snow!) as well as a fire ring and an outhouse. There is no water provided, but a large bucket is available, so you can get lake water and filter it, or melt snow or bring your own. This is a great location for folks who like winter camping as the trek in is only a few miles, I was able to do it easily carrying a backpack of gear on my back, and a front pack with my dog when she got tired if trudging through the snow. And of course it is an easy hike in during the milder snow-free seasons. The site is scenic, pristine, and largely sheltered from the wind. The vista north over Coffee Break Lake would be awesome for viewing northern lights, this is a dark sky part of the park. It can get a little muddy in the transition season, including around the campfire area, so we hung out at the Adirondack shelter nearby and did our cooking there.

To see a map and reserve a back country campsite at Itasca, check this link:

For more info on Remote Camping in Minnesota State Parks, see this link:

For general info on Itasca State Park, go to the homepage:


As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I ocasionally get camping products to test out. Today I am testing Mountain House Southwest Breakfast Hash

Mountain House makes lightwieght, freeze-dried trail meals that are "cooked" in their own pouches using only boiling water. The sealed pouches are durable and lightwieght to carry, and the no-fuss no-muss prep of adding boiling water and letting it stand for 4 minutes in the re-sealable pouch is really easy. Since I was carrying my gear on my back, and carrying my tired little dog in a front pack carrier, I certainly didnt want to have extra weight! But these meal pouches are so light you hardly know you are carrying them. This pouch of SW breakfast hash had more than enough for two people plus some leftover for the dog, we served it up on tortillas that we had also packed, but you could eat it straight up. The hash featured beans, corn, potatoes, veggies and shredded beef for a well rounded complete meal as is, but you could extend the servings by scrambling it with eggs to dish up for a larger group. The taste and texture were surprisingly good, tasty without being too spicy, and I would defintiely buy this again. See our video review at

Wild and scenic river camping

This is one if my favorite campsites along the Mississippi River Headwaters. It is a special place, and a well kept secret…as a primitive river recreation managed by the local county, it doesnt appear on the Mississippi River headwaters Water Trail map as that map only include campsites designated by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Although it is indeed a primitive site—not even a pit toilet, and no pitable water—there is a gorgeous high bluff with plenty of room under tall pines for a whole scout troop or family group to set up a number of tents. There is a good fire grill, county-supplied wood at the site, access and a landing from the river (located in between Fox Trap landing and Pine Pount landing in the water trail), but you can also hike in, or drive through a locked gate on a county road near Bear Den landing. You dont pay to camp here, but you Must get a county permit first, from the county parks department, and then they will give you the instructions for location, plus access through the gate. The site is impeccably maintained and has a breathtaking view of a wild and scenic part of the river, and the gated entrance and ling drive ir hike in from there ensures your privacy at the site. Also, if you happen to be paddling the Headwaters water trail, this is the campsite i would recommend rather than the DNR site just downstream at Pine Point, as that one is in awful condition!

Pine Point is in sorry shape

This is a designated canoe campground on the Mississippi River Headwaters water trail. It used to be one of my favorite campsites on the water trail, and was known for its big beautiful pines and for being a well maintained campsite on the water trail. A big windstorm came through in 2012 and knocked down most of the beautiful pines and ravaged the campsites. There had been several nice Adirondack lean-tos, nice fire grates, picnic tables, plenty of tent sites, decent outhouses, a water pump, and a nice landing for canoe access and swimming. The storm caused trees to fall all over the campground, causing a lot of damage. Rather than restoring the facilities that were damaged, most were just removed and havent been replaced, hence only one shelter remains and it it in rough shape; and the other campsites have been taken out altogether leaving just a big open grassy area. The water pump has been taken out, and the remaining outhouse is in bad condition. The heavy rains and floods at that time and since have also caused the main channel of the river to move further out in the reed bed, so the landing basically accesses a pretty shallow slough that you will have to slog through in order to get in from and out on the river. It is really sad to see it in this condition, and it is a barely tolerable spot to stop if you are through-paddling, but it is the last stop before the day-paddle it may take you to get through the giant rice beds downstream en route to Iron Bridge. The only positive is that the DNR did replant a lot of pine seedlings around the campground to replace the trees that were lost, and they seem to have had a good growth spurt the past couple years, so this spot is on its way for the vegetation to be renewed at least. I would advise not staying here though, unless improvements are made. If possible, try to camp upstream at Fox Trap or High Banks rather than this campsite.

Canoe Trek to Fox Trap

This is both a campsite review and a Dyrt Ranger product review.

Campsite Review: This a canoe-in campsite on the Mississippi River Headwaters Water Trail. It is located 31 miles from Itasca State Park which is the source of the mighty Mississippi and where the canoeable Water Trail begins. Fox Trap would be a couple days paddle downstream from Itasca. You can access this campsite only by paddling, either 15 miles from the campsite at Coffee Pot Landing, or after driving into Bear Den Landing which is a mile away, then paddling a mile downstream from there. You could in theory hike in as well, but this would involve traversing unmarked logging trails in the nearby state forest and then bushwhacking a bit! Could be done, but more fun to paddle in. This campsite has a nice three-sided log Adirondack shelter you can use, along with a steel fire grill and a picnic table. The canoe landing access is easy to use, and then you will need to portage your gear up a small bluff. There is no potable water here, so bring your own or use a good filter—though the water is basically pristine here, there are a lot if beavers and risk of giardia. There is no privy either, so prepare to rough it and Leave No Trace. The view is great as you are up high on a bluff, and on a point, and the marshy waterway below has a lot of bird and wildlife action as this is part of the wild and scenic section of the river. Great for a quick weekend getaway, or as a stopover when through-paddling the water trail!

Product Review:

As a Dyrt Ranger, I sometimes test and review new camping products for The Dyrt. This review is for the Rom Outdoors camouflaged convertible backpack, that serves as a sturdy waterproof tarp, a warm fleece lined poncho, and also folds up neatly to become a large and roomy portage pack. See video below to see how I used it, and what I liked about it. In sum,


1) The pack is made from really sturdy waterproof canvas. It will last a long time and take a lot of abuse. My dog tested it trying to get into her dog food packed inside, and there is no way--too tough for claws!

2) It is a convertible pack, which can be uses as a portage pack for gear, or as a poncho, or as a warm sturdy camping tarp. All the parts used for altering the use, such as velcro, zippers, straps and buckles, are all top quality and heavy duty

3) I don't know how waterproof it is as it didnt rain while I tested it, but I used the poncho form as a camouflaged birdblind for birdwatching and photography. It is awesome for that! Very roomy, very warm, you could easily use it in 4 seasons.

4) It unfolds to a standard size tarp, you could use it under a tent to keep it dry, or inside a tent or Adirondack shelter to provide an insulating layer between you and the ground

5) As a portage pack, it straps into your canoe realy well, and while portaging it is easy to carry, as a 5'5" tall woman I found the straps to adjust perfectly at shoulders, chest and waist. The three sets of straps distribute the weight well. I portaged with gear and my 12 pound dog and it was comfortable! I know it wasnt meant to carry a dog, but it worked for a small one like ours, she fit right in. When fold up s a pack, it has two deep pockets in the main body of the bag, plus additional large pounches on the outside.

6)The pack comes with a full size removable pack liner that is also a lightweight back pack on its own, and there are two large external gear pouches that go on and off with buckles and heavy velcro.


1) The shoulder straps and buckles are a tad bulkly if you unfold the pack to use as a tarp. You wont notice if you use a sleeping bag pad on top, but you might feel it a bit without a pad.

2) The poncho feature would be particularly good in cool to cold weather, maybe in warmish weather too, but not in real warm or hot weather because the canvas itself is so thick, plus there is a layer of insulating polarfleece. I cant imagine wearing it as a poncho for very long on hot days.

clean but might as well be a parking lot

showers and bathrooms are clean and well lit but there is no privacy between the sites. Basically it’s a place for people to park their RVs. There is a lake there with no beach and it’s about 10-15 min from Itasca State Park.