Allison K.
Anoka , MN
Joined June 2019
I am a mother of 2 (boy and girl) and have an amazing husband who all love to camp and go on adventures.
Open sites and beautiful lake with a swimming beach

If you’re looking for a county park close to the Twin Cities metro area with a beautiful lake, good fishing, swimming, recreation rentals like paddle boards kayaks and canoes that also has a campground with Camper Cabins attached, look no further than Baker Park Reserve. Baker Park reserve is just outside of Maple Plain Minnesota which is about 45 minutes from the Twin Cities metro area.

Lake Independence is attached to Baker Park reserve which is a beautiful lake for fishing, swimming, kayaking and, recreational boating. You can catch everything from Crappies, perch, sunfish, walleye and, musky on this lake. A lot of people come out and troll the lake for musky and also bring pontoons for swimming. You can jump right off the pontoon into the lake and have a great time with the family or just be alone on the boat and catch a ton of fish.

The lake can be busy especially on holiday weeks and weekends and The park and restricts how many boats around the lake and enforces no wake zone’s during the holiday I’m busy times. So check the leak before you go if you’re planning on doing or jet skiing or just cruising around on your boat.

The campground that’s attached to the park is pretty open and there are very many secluded sites if any at all. I took a few videos while driving through the campground to show you what the campground is like. There’s a campground office that offer snacks and sodas and ice and such. If you’re looking for a good getaway for the weekend that’s close this would be a good park for you.

Overall, I would give the campground a three out of five because it is so dang open and there isn’t much privacy. There is however, very nice shower buildings and a nice office. I would give the park a four out of five for usefulness and overall fun. There is a lot to do and it is close to the metro.

Beautiful but a bit crowded

I am from a suburb of Twin Cities metro area in Minnesota and we wanted to go camping with my in-laws who have horses. We needed a park that was close and had equestrian camping so we decided to go to Lake Carlos State Park.

Lake Carlos State Park is roughly 2.5hours from the Twin Cities and is a beautiful getaway for a weekend trip. You can leave after work on a Friday and still have time to make it to the park, set up and still be able to cook dinner and enjoy a s’more or two.

We booked site H3 in the equestrian campground which was a VERY open site right off the main loop in the equestrian campground. It was very sunny and barely any shade for the horses. The site were in was electric and there were only three non-electric sites in the equestrian campground. The other sites were awesome for shade but were still super open to everyone.

There were great trails for hiking and horseback riding. They also allowed mountain biking on the trails.

The staff at the office were super friendly and they talked to us for about 15 minutes. Their store in the office was pretty great and they had everything from toys for the kids to s’mores stuff and stickers specific to the park. The firewood was pretty fast burning and cost 6$ a bundle so it was pretty spendy since we cook only over the fire.

The main campground was VERY busy and jammed packed. The sites were too close together and open for my comfort.

The beach was very dirty and there were army worms everywhere crawling on everything.

We took a little bike ride to the group camp which was an amazing area with a very nice shelter with electric.

All in all, this is a good park to go to if you are looking for a park close to the twin cities metro area.

Beautiful but a bit crowded

I am from a suburb of Twin Cities metro area in Minnesota and we wanted to go camping with my in-laws who have horses. We needed a park that was close and had equestrian camping so we decided to go to Lake Carlos State Park.

Lake Carlos State Park is roughly 2.5hours from the Twin Cities and is a beautiful getaway for a weekend trip. You can leave after work on a Friday and still have time to make it to the park, set up and still be able to cook dinner and enjoy a s’more or two.

We booked site H3 in the equestrian campground which was a VERY open site right off the main loop in the equestrian campground. It was very sunny and barely any shade for the horses. The site were in was electric and there were only three non-electric sites in the equestrian campground. The other sites were awesome for shade but were still super open to everyone.

There were great trails for hiking and horseback riding. They also allowed mountain biking on the trails.

The staff at the office were super friendly and they talked to us for about 15 minutes. Their store in the office was pretty great and they had everything from toys for the kids to s’mores stuff and stickers specific to the park. The firewood was pretty fast burning and cost 6$ a bundle so it was pretty spendy since we cook only over the fire.

The main campground was VERY busy and jammed packed. The sites were too close together and open for my comfort.

The beach was very dirty and there were army worms everywhere crawling on everything.

We took a little bike ride to the group camp which was an amazing area with a very nice shelter with electric.

All in all, this is a good park to go to if you are looking for a park close to the twin cities metro area.

Great for tent camping but not so much for Rv/travel trailer camping

We planned a huge family camping trip this year and the lovely Chippewa Loop campground in the Chippewa National Forest was the camp ground that we had the honor of staying at! We had three sites, 79, 80, and 81 with 17 people total. 9 Adults and 8 kids ranging from ages 7 to 1. The campground is right outside Cass Lake Minnesota that had a nice grocery store, a pretty weird liquor store, a family dollar, and a fishing pier if you didn’t have a boat. It was about a half an hour outside of Bemidji, Mn that has a lot of history from Minnesota and a great fireworks display over the lake on the Fourth of July. The City of Bemidji has a lot a little boutique shops if you are into shopping while on camping trips. It also had a cute little ice cream store that we took all the kids to across from the Paul Bunyan and Babe the blue ox statue and a nice park for the kids to play at right off of Lake Bemidji. If you’re into craft breweries Bemidji also has a brewery called Bemidji Brewing right in town. There’s also a Walmart, Target, Home Depot, and a dollar tree amongst other stores if you have that “I forgot list”.

Site number 80 was the best to put up a travel trailer, but it was also extremely close to site number 82 and practically joined site number 82. We ended up putting our Jayco Eagle 30 foot travel trailer in site number 81 because with everyone else tent camping and we were the only one with a travel trailer, we felt this site was the best to park our travel trailer in because it was the least level site and only had one small pad for a tent. Site number 79 and 81 were joined together by a path that made it easy for us to all eat in one site. We all pretty much congregated in site number 81. We put most of our tents, three to be exact, in site number 80 because it was the most level and open for tents. The site was capable of having two large cabin tents and a small 4 person tent comfortably. Site had a lot of good pine trees for hanging Hammocks but, like I said before, it was almost right on top of site number 82 so we decided to only put up the 3 tents and congregate across the road in site number 81 as to not disturb the other site occupants. It was pretty frustrating that that was the most level site because it was also the best one to park a travel trailer in and have an awning out and a picnic table but we couldn’t do it because we didnt want to disturb the other site with 17 people.

Site number 79 had a good drive pad but the tent pad was extremely un-level. we put up a single pole tipi in that site because the people in that site had cots and didn’t mind sleeping on an incline. When I say incline, I mean incline, the tent pad was not level at all which is kind of frustrating. Site number 79 was the least friendly for hammocks so we hung all her hammocks in site number 81.

Site number 81 is where we decided to put up the trailer but the trailer pad was super un- level. We ended up making a Walmart run to get two more packs of leveling blocks and we use three packs of leveling blocks to make it level with room to have our awning and out. Right behind the travel trailer was a sloped hill that went down to the fire pit and a tent pad that was also on a slight incline which we were up by eight person tent there but that person had a raised air mattress and didn’t mind sleeping on an incline. Attached to site number 81 was also the path to the showers that was right down the hill. It worked out great because the showers and the bathrooms were so close to our site but we felt like the trees were blocking everything from our site.

We took a lot of bike rides and got to see a lot of the other sites and they had a lot of good tent sites in some of the other loops and it seems like all of the electric sites were not as great as the tent sites. All of the electric sites seem to be un-level and not a great place to pitch a tent as well as having the camper.

The park itself was very beautiful had a lot of nature things like milk weed and monarch butterfly’s everywhere and a beautiful swimming beach that was about waist high (4 feet deep) for about 300 to 400 yards out from shore. The beach was great for swimming and kayaking and you could dock a boat on the sandy beach and eat lunch if you wanted to. We ended up catching 40 crawfish and doing a crawfish boil, which the kids absolutely loved. The picnic shelter was pretty awesome too, very shaded and on a rougher part of the beach. There was a really long bike path that went through all of the loops and the main road was super bike friendly as well.

In the visitor center there was a really cool area for the kids to go to play if it was too hot or rainy, or if you just wanted to be indoors for a little bit. They had a bike decorating event and we brought all the kids bikes and decorated them. There was a little gift shop and they also gave out free stickers which we ended putting on our camper as we do at every park we get a sticker from.

Each camp ground loop also had a campground host that sold firewood, three bundles for $10. The firewood was pretty bad and some of it was wet and it burned really really fast. But like every park in Minnesota you can’t bring your own firewood unless it’s kiln dried lumber or something like that within a certain number of miles of the place you are camping.

A few downsides to this park where there’s no official places to fill water up for your camper and no official place to dump your black and grey water tanks from your camper. You end up having to go to another park and pay to dump your camper. This could be a problem if you are staying for an extended time and use a lot of water. There also wasn’t a whole lot to do aside from biking and hiking and swimming like there was a leech lake recreation area we were at a few days prior to this trip. The restrooms and showers were pretty unkempt and dirty. Everyone but me and my sister had cold showers every time they went to take a shower.

All in all the park is very beautiful and I had some very good attributes like friendly staff, clean campsites and secluded campsites where you didn’t feel like you are right on top of the other site aside from site 80 and 82. It seemed like there were three or 4 sites together in groups and then a little ways away there were a few more clumped together.

I don’t know if we would actually come back to this park because the sites weren’t as big as they seemed in the pictures online and we felt cramped most of the time. There wasn’t a good space in the sites to put up games like corn hole or ladder ball which made it a bit boring at times to just stay at camp. We spent a lot of time at the beach.

Awesome and extremely clean and quiet

While at Leech Lake Recreation Area we stayed in site number 33 which was the electric site with our 30 foot Jayco Eagle travel trailer. There was enough room in the site for a travel trailer truck and probably another tent or screen tent. The other sites were close but not too close. if another travel trailer or RV pulled in it would block our view from their fire ring. The pad was all dirt and you can only set up on the dirt and not on the grass around it. The trees around the site were perfect for hammocks, we hung three of our Kammok brand hammocks. Our only complaint about the site was that the fire pit was dug down into the ground making it kind of unsafe if you had children and the fires didn’t stay lit very well because there was no oxygen going underneath them, so you’re constantly fanning it which was annoying because we cook with cast-iron over the fire for every meal.

We were able to go and take a walk to the lake which is super short walk from pretty much any of the sites but really close from our site. The sunset over the lake were stunning and a loon hung around the dock while we fished.

We took a lot of bike rides around the campground looking at each site and going to the park which was absolutely amazing for the kids. They had basketball courts, a huge playground that was amazing quality, shuffleboard, volleyball, badminton, and a picnic shelter that you could rent out with the cooking area inside the picnic shelter. There are pit toilets and bathrooms close to the playground so that isn’t an issue with little ones. The playground area is a great place to hang out with adults and children.

We took a bike ride to the tent sites as well and found that there are pretty close together and right next to a main road that was kind of noisy. They would probably be good if you got all four at once with a group of people. The dump station for the RVs was right next to the tent sites to which would probably be annoying to see all the RVs on a busy day dumping at the same time.

The federal Dan was a magnificent sight but it was pretty hard to fish around that area without a boat going on the leech lake because of the fast-moving water. They’re also wasn’t an area to swim because it would be unsafe which is kind of a bummer but the playground made up for it.

The park is run by the Army Corps of Engineers volunteers and they were super friendly and kept everything clean and sanitary which was amazing. There was even Washers and dryer’s to do laundry for free and amazing shower facilities that they called comfort stations. Everything was borrow on the loan and bring back which included all of the equipment at the park like basketballs badminton shuffle board stuff and rakes shovels and stuff to clean up your campsite.

All in all this would be a park that we would definitely come back to you and spend a week and possibly have a group of people with kids because it’s a super cool friendly kid park.

Stunning yurts and unbelievable clear lakes

For someone who likes to do it all Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area is the place to be!!!

From Rv Camping and tent camping to amazing secluded Yurts on a trout pond there are more than enough options to camp and stay.

The campground itself isn’t anything to rave about, and is mostly open and pretty close together but the yurts, those are a different story!

The yurts are set on a beautiful only mine pit that is stocked with all kinds of trout. The have a wood burning stove, bunk beds, table, chairs, bear locker, fire ring and picnic table. There is a pergola style shelter with a full roof for outdoor cooking.

The view of the trout pond is absolutely stunning and fishing isn’t bad either if you know how to fish trout. There is a shop in town that will deliver kayaks and pick them up when you are done for a small fee, like 50$ for the day?

The old mine pits around and in the park are pristine and literally crystal clear! You can see hundreds of feet down through crystal clear water making it an amazing place to canoe and kayak.

If you are into mountain biking, this is definitely the park for you! Some of the best mountain biking red dirt trails are located in this recreation area! Shops in town rent bikes too! The views from the trails are breathtaking!

Overall, one of my favorite places to hike, bike, camp and, paddle!