At The Dyrt, we share camping tips from our community of campers and campgrounds. With so many campers staying home, we continue to share this info so you can plan future camping trips across the U.S.

This article about camping near Minneapolis-St. Paul is brought to you by GCI Outdoor. Their outdoor rocking chairs will enhance your stay anywhere in the region.


Camping in the Land of 10,000 Lakes offers opportunities to visit waterfalls, paddle the St. Croix River, or spy some endangered turtles basking in the sun. Located under an hour from the Minneapolis and St. Paul area, these campsites provide rustic to modern amenities and unforgettable experiences.

Whether you’re getting away for a weekend or planning a family reunion, you’ll find a campground that suits you.

1. Willow River

landscape view of water and surrounding hills

Image from The Dyrt camper Kim L.

Located in Wisconsin, 37 minutes from the Minneapolis area, Willow River Campground sits on the Little Falls Lake. Be sure not to miss the breathtaking falls after a hike. There’s even a spot to cool off underneath the falls.





The hikes are great for all ages, with some steeper inclines for more experienced hikers and shorter, flatter trails for kids. This is an excellent spot close to the Twin Cities and ideal for families or solo campers.

“This is a true gem. Amazing waterfall, you can explore. Great hiking and nearby lake being restored. Great family vacation.”Rebecca B.

Campground Details:

  • Price: $26
  • Number of sites: 120
  • RV sites: Yes
  • Fires allowed: Yes
  • Pets allowed: Yes

2. Afton State Park

campfire ring and tent at campsite

Image form The Dyrt camper Amie N.

Afton State Park overlooks the St. Croix River amid a rolling landscape near Hastings, MN. Only 34 minutes from Minneapolis and St. Paul, Afton State Park has something for everyone.

In the summer, trails, a nature center, and the swimming beach are a short hike away or enjoy horseback riding or a geocaching adventure. In the winter, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are available.

The interpretive nature path through an oak savannah amidst the wooded river valley is spectacular.

“The campsites are nicely spaced and diverse. Some are more wooded and others in the open prairie.” Joanna B.

Campground Details

  • Price: $16-24
  • Number of sites: 24
  • RV sites: Yes
  • Fires allowed: Yes
  • Pets allowed: Yes

3. Lake Maria State Park

tent in snow in forest

Image from The Dyrt camper Joanna B.

Located near Monticello, MN, Lake Maria State Park is a popular place to take in fall foliage and enjoy the lakes and ponds scattered throughout the park. The only access is to hike or boat in, but the end destination is well worth it.

You may glimpse an endangered Blanding’s turtle if you’re observant, and ospreys and eagles abound. The park is open year-round, so you can cross-country ski in the winter and enjoy spring flowers’ first blossoms come May.

“This is a fantastic park. No views or anything, just miles of thick forest. A million and one birds.”John L.

Campground Details:

  • Price: $15-23
  • Number of sites: 17
  • RV sites: No
  • Fires allowed: Yes
  • Pets allowed: Yes

4. Nerstrand Big Woods

path through woods in autumn

This campsite contains one of the last “Big Stands” of forest, and the fall foliage is incomparable. A mecca for bird watchers, you can catch glimpses of buntings, meadowlarks, and seven species of woodpecker.

Incredible swaths of wildflowers adorn Nerstrand Big Woods every spring, including the dwarf trout lily, which only grows here. Woodland bats, fox, raccoon, and red-bellied snakes all live in the park.

There is a hidden waterfall to find on your adventures, and the city of Faribault is a quick drive away for necessities.

“Waterfall: This is so amazing to have right close to the cities. The most approachable falls ever. A few deep pockets so you can really swim, and a gorgeous, totally tree surrounded area.”Amber N.

Campground Details:

  • Price: $26
  • Number of sites: 52
  • RV sites: Yes
  • Fires allowed: No
  • Pets allowed: Yes

5. Wild River

campsite surrounded by forested hills

Image from The Dyrt camper Amber N.

Drive an hour out of the St. Paul and Minnesota area, and you reach a place that feels truly off the map – Wild River. This park was created to protect and maintain a site along the St. Croix River of distinct beauty.

A wide variety of camping opportunities include equestrian camping, tent campsites, RV, and cabins for those who would like something more modern. There are 35 miles of hiking trails accessible in the winter for snowshoers, riders, and cross-country skiers.

This area has interesting historical tidbits like Never’s Dam, built above St. Croix Falls to manipulate logs flowing downstream. Learn more about the local ecology and area preservation at the visitor center.

“Wild River State Park is my go-to campground since it is within an hour of my home. I make it my first place to camp every season. Love the scenic trails and all the park has to offer.”Jeff L.

Campground Details:

  • Price: $20
  • Number of sites: 15
  • RV sites: Yes
  • Fires allowed: Yes
  • Pets allowed: Yes

6. Cleary Lake Regional Park

dog tent and rug at campsite

Image from The Dyrt camper Lili R.

Located on Prior Lake, Cleary Lake Regional Park features an off-leash exercise area for your furry friends and paved biking and hiking trails. This park is 30 miles from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.

This rustic campground has 20 sites with 2 hike-in sites. It is a year-round campsite that offers golf in the temperate seasons and cross-country skiing in the winter. If you’ve always wanted to learn archery, now’s your chance.

“Cleary Lake is a good size and a kayaker’s delight! The park also has a golf course and is very well kept!”Lili R.

Campground Details:

  • Price: $16-$50
  • Number of sites: 22
  • RV sites: Yes
  • Fires allowed: Yes
  • Pets allowed: Yes

7. Ham Lake Campground

llama in pasture

Image from The Dyrt camper Kristin C.

A large campground only 25 miles from Minneapolis-St. Paul area is Ham Lake Campground, the quintessential camping spot for many in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. With water sports, a playground, hiking trails, and tons of boating and fishing opportunities, you will have plenty to do at Ham Lake Campground.

“The campground has a couple of ponds, as well as access to Ham Lake where the watercraft is launched. There is a petting arena with goats, ponies, and a llama who gave my partner the stink eye, but fell in love with me rubbing the fence and giving me all googly eyes!”Kristin C.

Campground Details:

  • Price: $28-$40
  • Number of sites: 95
  • RV sites: Yes
  • Fires allowed: Yes
  • Pets allowed: Yes

Camping outside of Minneapolis and St. Paul is ideal for the water and nature lover. With beautiful lakes, ponds, and rivers, these campgrounds merely scratch the surface of Minnesota’s natural beauty. For more, check out The Dyrt’s full list of best camping near Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota.


This article about camping near Minneapolis-St. Paul was brought to you by GCI Outdoor.

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Their low beach chairs are perfect for enjoying all the waterside campgrounds the area has to offer.

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