We had sooo much fun hiking with our family here. There were plenty of easy trails for my young children and grandmother, and even a few more advanved trails for us adults that could handle it.
The scenery was absolutely stunning! We had a blast finding new places to explore on some less beaten paths, and plenty of learning on the more well known ones.
The falls were a little difficult to get to for my grandmother only because there was no easy way over the boulders. But we made it!
This is a beautiful state park along the Kettle River, famous for its rock formations, the whitewater Kettle River, and beautiful oak-ash forests. You can camp at the park campground in the woods, or at several secluded paddle-in canoe campsites on the river. There are miles of trails to hike, including along the river and to a waterfall, all kinds of paddling and rafting possibilities(bring your own, or join a trip sponsored by a local outfitter), or go bouldering amongst the interesting rock formations. The problem for campers at this location is that the number of campsites available is exceeded by demand for them, especially in summer and on weekends. Reserve early if you would like to stay here! The campsites are of good size, nicely shaded, and convenient for both tent camping and RV or trailer camping, however there are two real drawbacks: the campground is pretty far from park activities you might like to do, so you may have to drive to trailheads, picnic areas, or boat launch, or else be willing to make a long hike. And because of proximity to metro areas, there is competion in the parking areas from folks who are just there for day trips, so an amazing number of cars end up parked up and down the main state park road. The other drawback is that the campground is kind of in a lowland forest with a muddy substrate, that stays pretty wet and buggy even when it has been a while since the last rain. A plus is that you have access to top-rated whitewater for river activities, and a park trail also leads outside of the state park to a premier rockclimbing destination in Robinson County Park on the south border of the state park. Folks come afrom all over the Midwest for the rock climbing and the whitewater, so scoring a campsite within Banning State Park is helpful if you want to access these stellar recreational opportunities.
There are wonderful hiking trails to be hiked here. Make sure you go to the big spring falls trails. Best part of the hikes there with the river/falls/rocks area. Campground is nice as well (as long as your neighbors aren’t blasting jazz music and their AC at 8am)
We booked a site in advance and hoped to catch the fall colors. It was our first time camping at Banning. Fall came early in MN and it was just past peak. Most of the leaves were yellow (or on the ground), but it was still pretty. As we were setting up our camp, it began to snow. We selected 9 as it was on the end of the loop and somewhat private. The campsites were fairly well spaced, wooded and offered some privacy. There were multiple vault toilets in the campsite loops.
There are several hiking trails with different points of interest. One leads to Wolf Creek Falls and is challenging and beautiful. Another goes along the Kettle River with beautiful views. You can also explore the sandstone quarry and do a self-guided tour to learn history of the ruins from the mining years. We really enjoyed our stay.
We stayed here mid-week in August and there were a few campsites available. The sites themselves are spread out, so they feel relatively private for a campground. Each site had a woodchip bed upon which you can pitch your tent, making sleeping here one of our more comfortable camping experiences during our road trip. You can conveniently pay the site reservation fee online, no printing necessary. You do need to remember to separately pay your car entrance fee, also online. The campground had nice, clean bathroom facilities and an impressive recycling system. Only downside is that the sites in our area smelled faintly like an outhouse, which was likely worsened by the recent rain.
Very quiet retreat. Campsites are well kept and bathroom/showers are nice. Trails are nicely maintained and the waterfall is beautiful. Camp host is helpful and great to just talk to. The office staff were great and very nice. Recommend! We will definitely stay again.
The fall colors are spectacular, the trails are amazing, and it does t matter what time of year you arrive.
I make 2 trips here a year.
Secluded campsites, electrical hookups, friendly staff. Beautiful sights and amazing trail heads. Some were challenging but worth it! Bathrooms/showers were really clean as well.
Banning is located just off I35 but you would never know it; unlike other parks close to highways, we didn’t hear any road noise at all. Small campground (34 sites including one cabin, about a third with electric). Some sites (18-34 especially) offer great privacy. Clean bathrooms. Great hiking trails (although the Wolf Creek Trail between the split from High Bluff and the falls is not marked and can get a little confusing to navigate). The Quarry Loop Trail is also interesting and you can pick up an interpretive map.
This park seems to be a missed gem as people head farther north towards Superior. This park has decent facilities and fun hiking along the bluffs of the Kettle River. There is a self guided tour of a historic granite quarry, and a great swimming place with a waterfall.
We will definitely be visiting again!