We love our Boundary Waters Canoe Area to the north of us, and the North shore of Lake Superior to the east, both of which offer some of the best wilderness camping in northern Minnesota. However, they are both a good three hour drive from our home in north central Minnesota. Itasca State Park, between Park Rapids and Bemidji, is our go-to special place when we want to take to the woods for a weekend but only have to drive about a half hour to get there. Most campers at Itasca head for the main campgrounds for standard tent and RV camping…but for a near Wilderness experience, there are 11 remote backpacker campsites which are between 1 and 6 miles trek into the roadless wilderness area of the park south of the parks main loop drive. The Iron Corner Lake remote campsite is one such campsite off on its own in the backcountry, actually by the nexus of the Ozawindib Trail and the North Country National Scenic trail that runs through this part of the park. It is an easy trek in from a small parking area near Josephine Lake, or from a larger parking area at the south entrance of the park. Either trail in goes up and over the Itasca Moraine, so there is some good elevation change along the traild, but not too rugged, and it is really just over a mile that you need to pack in to this campsite. The campsite comes with fire ring and benches, beautiful bed of pine needles for a tent pad, access to a gorgeous crystal clear lake, and a clean three-sided outhouse with a scenic view toward the lake. (No need for a door—its the wilderness! ) You can camp here as a base camp, and then have the chance to hike miles of trails in every direction to dozens of other wilderness lakes in the area. The trails in are both wide, soft, and well maintained so you could easily bring in a kayak ir canoe if you dont mind portaging the distance. Quiet, rustic, pristine, and dark skies at night! Check this page for a description of the MN state park remote campsites with a link to reserve one: https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/remote_camping.html and check this link for info on the Itasca State Park overall https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/park.html?id=spk00181#homepage
Stockton Island is one of about a dozen islands in the Apostle Islands archipelago. The Apostle Islands are managed as a national lakeshore by the National Park Service. Access to the islands is by water shuttle https://www.apostleisland.com/shuttles-camping/ or via your own watercraft. The islands are famous for a wilderness experience in a pristine part of Lake Superior offshore from Bayfield Wisconsin. Camping and kayaking in the islands is a spectacular experience. The season is short, from late June to Labor Day; traversing the lake lake is too unpredictable after that! We went in June and had a fabulous experience. Lots of sun, no bugs, gentle breezes, perfect temps in the 60’s. The water shuttle drops you passengers at a large dock in a natural harbor on the southeast side of Stockton Island. A short walk from the landing brings you to the Island’s ranger station and visitor center for an orientation and an intro to the island. A stellar handicapped accessible platform campsite is adjacent to the ranger station, the best and most accessible I’ve ever seen and would be perfect for a family member of mine with special needs and mobility issues. It would be completely do-able for folks camping with someone in a wheel chair, thank you NPS for your efforts! Additional walkin campsites are spread out further down the shore, under magnificent trees, along the sandy shore, with plenty of seclusion and a great rustic experience. Tent camping only, of course. No vehicles on the island! Lots of hiking, kayaking, nature watching and more, even swimming if you can brave the cold Superior temps. Be prepared with all the supplies you need for your stay as the water shuttle only comes to the island a few days a week and once you are there, you are there for the duration, no store or anything on the island. Coming here is a real adventure!
This campground is oriented towards RV’ers and boaters, the campsite has full RV hookups and is adjacent to a very nice marina for those who are looking for that. The campground is also run by and adjacent to the Red Cliff Casino Hotel, so that has pluses and minuses depending on how you feel about being so close to a hotel and casino. I think the campground overall is adequate but nothing real special in terms of a general camping experience, but it is close to Lake Superior, Apostle Islands, and Bayfield. One gem of a campsite is worth noting: site # 23 is tucked way back in the woods on its own inlet pretty well secluded from all the rest of the campground, I would really recommend it as a very special place for tent campers. Very peaceful, wooded and quiet, lots of bird and wildlife action, and a few nice spots for fishing. Another important thing to mention is that staying at the campground or visiting the marina or hotel restaurant helps support the Red Cliff Band of Ojibwe Indians, which is very worthwhile.
Most importantly, whether you stay at this campground or another near by, the campground is just south of an incredible outdoor opportunity: the chance to visit the new Frog Bay Tribal National Park, the first Indigenous National Park in the US. This park has been set aside by the Red Cliff Band to preserve an incredible segment of The Red Cliff peninsula that encompasses an amazingly beautiful and undisturbed old-growth cedar hemlock forest. As a biologist, I was thrilled to visit this very, very special place on earth, and I am grateful to the Red Cliff Band for their conservation and education efforts here. The quiet, the profound stillness of the forest, the rare plants and habitats, the beautiful trails are breathtaking. You can wander through on your own on several impeccably kept trails, and as you wander you will find guide posts pointing out plants of special cultural value along with their Ojibwe name. Even better, you can hire a Red Cliff Ojibwe naturalist to give you an informative guided tour to learn more about the natural and cultural landscape. You can also arrange for a guided tour to some of the Red Cliff sea caves that are off limits to the general public. These are must-do activities for curious adventurous naturalists. For more info on Frog Bay Tribal Park, check this link: http://redcliff-nsn.gov/divisions/TNRD/FBTNP.htm
City-run campgrounds can be of variable quality, and the Bayfield community campground at Dalrymple city park really sets the bar high. The quality of this campground is on a par with a small state park! Set in a deep old forest of tall shady trees, the campsites are large, spacious, well kept and in pristine quality. Many are in primo spots along the bluffs overlooking Lake Superior and the Apostle Islands, and many can accomodate a variety if RV’s and campers. However, with respect for tenters who like a more rustic experience, there are some primitive walk in sites that are set off to the side in a nice secluded woodsy location. Right within the city limits of beautiful Bayfield, with all kinds of amenities and possible day trips, but with a peaceful quiet retreat into the woods at day’s end. A quality experience!
This is a private campground located a few miles south of Bayfield. It is oriented towards RV camping but also has tent sites. It is very family friendly with play areas, small store with necessities and snacks. It would be particularly good for families or groups of events who are attending summer events (lectures, concerts, workshops) at the nearby Chatauqua Event grounds; in fact, the campground has a designated Chatauqua shuttle stop stop so you dont have to deal with traffic and parking. It is convenient to the town of Bayfield too, so you could easily do a variety if day trips in the area. The RV campsite loop is a bit open with only small trees and not much privacy between, but many RV campers like that for socializing and interacting with neighbors. There is a quieter shady loop towards the back of the campground that tent campers and others who want more peace and quiet might prefer. Note: you should call ahead to make reservations as spots fill quickly especially in Chatauqua season. More importantly, note that the entrance and office close by 6pm and NO ONE who is not already registered is allowed in, no late arrivals!
This is an interesting combo-campground in a recreation area that is run jointly by the local county township park board and the National Park Service. The campground would be ideal for folks in campers and RVs , as the campground is particularly well set up for them with hookups and large shaded sites. It is also an excellent harbor and marina for boaters of all kinds from sailboat to yacht to kayak. For tent campers like me, the tent spots arent great…small and unsheltered and close together. There is firewood for sale plus cats available to tote a load to your campsite. Play area for kids, some hiking possibilities, and right on the water for swimming at the beach or launching boats. Seems a little strange that they charge for showers on top on the camping fee. The Park service has staff on location with a Park Mobile information center, but better yet they are almost finished building a brand new beautiful visitor center about the Apostle Islands.
This is a community campground in the city park of a small farming town near the Canadian border. The park is clearly a source of pride for the town, as it is well kept with landscaping, beautiful gardens, great playground, picnic areas, disk golf, and campground with full hookups. It is several hours drive from our home town, and it isnt a place we would go to as a camping destination in and of itself, but we often take long trips up into Canada and if it is late when we are heading home then this is a good stopping point to overnight before going the last few hours drive home. There is also a great Scandanavian restaurant down the block with lots of local ethnic heritage recipes that is a big draw for the region. We have neighbors at home who are originally from this town, and the campground is good for family reunions and other special events. The surrounding area has a lot of moose, so one special event is the annual Moose festival which is worth attending. If you are into birdwatching this is a stop on the Pine to Prairie Birding Trail, just as the nearby Twin Lakes WMA nature preserve is a seasonal stop for migratory birds and waterfowl. The town is also along the “Dancing Waters Scenic Byway” , a scenic road that runs roughly parallel to the Canadian border and is known for views of the northern lights and for great views of the Milky Way in case you are interested in Dark Skies and astronomy.
Disadvantages: the campground is more oriented to RVs than tents; its on first-come first-served basis, which usually isnt a problem but could be on an event weekend; and, unfortunately, a train line with occasional trains does pass by the vicinity which creates some noise.
The campground doesnt seem to have its own website, but here is some info: its $12 a night for campsites, bathrooms available, hookups abailable. Call (218) 436-2178 at the city office if you have more questions. See community website for more info on the town, including the park: http://www.lakesnwoods.com/Karlstad.htm
Dyrt Ranger Review of Grubstick cooking gear at Hungry Man Lake
Campground Review: Hungry Man Lake has a state forest campground just south of Itasca State Park. There are 14 primitive campsites, a boat launch, small beach with dock, and picnic area. You can also hike on several trails around the lake. The campsites are large and shaded by beautiful tall pines and spaced far apart. They each have a nice fire grill and picnic table. Great for tent camping! RVs and campers can fit in many of the sites, but note that there are no hookups of any kind. Facilities include outhouse and water pump. Site 11 is not officially a handicapped site but it is flat and has hard packed ground around the picnic table and has easy access to the outhouse which has a wide door and seems to be accessible. The sites were only half taken by families and quiet fisherman, so pretty pleasant! We stayed at site 14 which was nicely set back from the other sites, but further from the lake. Supposedly it has great fishing but we didnt try. The beach area is hardpacked white sand with crystal clear water, great for swimming! A good place to camp if you want to be near Itasca State Park but not camping among the crowds.
Product review: As a Dyrt Ranger, I sometimes have the chance to try new camping products and review them on The Dyrt. While at Hungry Man Lake, we tried out the new Grubstick cooking utensils which have telescoping steel handles with rubber grips and a variety of screw-on attachments such as hotdog grilling forks, sandwich and burger baskets, bacon roaster and pastry baker. We tried them all! See product listing here: https://grubstick.com/products/deluxe-kit
Pros: The hotdog griller is generous and holds three at a time, we tried a brat, a hotdog and a corndog. They didnt fall off the fork and grilled nicely. The sandwich basket makes great grilled cheese, and the burger basket did a great job grilling a hefty bacon burger. The separate bacon attachment worked ok, but only cooks one piece at a time; cooking bacon in a grill basket might work better for multiple pieces. I really loved the pastry cylinder: you wrap dough around the steel cylinder and turn over the coals, of course it bakes on the outside, but the cylinder also heats up and cooks the dough from the inside as well—no more dough boys with baked crust and raw insides! The baked pastry cup then sludes easily off the cylinder and you can fill it with all kinds of fillings, and eat it like an ice cream cone! Doesnt leak! Tastes great! We filled ours with yogurt, berries and nuts. All the attachments worked great, the handles are long and safe over the fire by the handles dont get hot and they telescope down to a small size, and everything fits in a nice canvas bag. Comes with silicon hot pads and implements to use while cooking with the utensils, and everything cleans up like a breeze. Well made and sturdy. We look forward to using them again!
Cons: the only minor problem was that the sandwich and burger baskets clip shut with a clip that could pop open if you dont close the basket clips firmly before use. We lost one burger when flipping the basket the first time, but did a better job pressing on the clip after that. Some kind of locking clasp on the clip might be a good addition. Otherwise, everything worked great!
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: http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/maps/state_forests/sft00034.pdf
Map of the first hundred miles of the Headwaters Water Trail: https://files.dnr.state.mn.us/maps/canoe_routes/mississippi1.pdf
Directions to the Stumpghes Rapids Landing and adjacent dispersed campsite are at this link: https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/water_access/site.html?id=WAS00636
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: https://eclipseglove.com/collections/cover-ups/products/equinox-hoodie-beach-cover-up 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.
Dyrt Ranger Review of Banner and Oak Products at the South Kawishiwi Campground
Campground Review: My husband and his motorcycle buddies love riding on backroads and scenic byways in our state and National Forests in northern Minnesota. The MN State Highway 1 winds through the tall pines of the Chippewa National Forest, to the Bear Island state forest, and the Superior National Forest all the way east to Lake Superior. A nice weekend ride on this route includes a nice campout at the National Forest Service’s South Kawishiwi campground just off Highway 1 between Ely and Isabella. The campground is a typical rustic Forest Service campground, no hookups or plug-ins for RVs though many of the campsites would have room for a camper. All of the sites are great for tent camping, with large sheltered campsites in the pines, picnic tables and great fire rings with grill. There are water pumps for drinking water, and but the bathroom facilities are outhouses. One of the best features of this campground is the waterfront, with a nice beach and picnic area and a good boatlaunch for canoes and fishing boats. The campground is quiet and peaceful and well maintained. You can hike or boat in the area, and its an easy trip into Ely if you need supplies or want to visit the nature centers in town. Well recommended for families and small groups, accessible for motorcycles, cars, trailers and campers who want a quiet and simple camping experience.
Product review: As a Ranger for the Dyrt, I sometimes have the chance to review camping gear and related outdoor products. This review is for Banner and Oak gear, specifically their outdoor tshirts https://bannerandoak.com/collections/shirtsand their camping mugs https://bannerandoak.com/collections/gear-we-love/products/steel-camper-mug-white . My husband tried out these products on his recent camping trip with his motorcycle buddies, and he lived both of them. Our mess kit includes the standard flat sierra cups, which are fine for your instant oatmeal in the morning, but not great for coffee. The Banner and Oak mugs are enameled stainless steel, sturdy enough to be crammed into a tight pack and large enough to hold a good stiff morning coffee—and the “Freedom to Explore” motto on it is great! But most of all, he LOVED the shirts, and said they were the softest he has ever worn, whether hanging around the campsite or, more importantly, under his motorcycle jacket when he is on the road. He felt it was soft and comfy—yes, by comparison, softer even than our little pug dog, which is saying a lot— and its lightweight, and breathes well in addition to preventing chafing under his jacket. He’s a fan! He doesnt usually pay much attention to his tshirts, but Banner and Oaks are remarkable and he will surely be buying more. Its a plus that they are made in the US too!
This is a small, well kept but basic private campground mostly for RVs but it does have some tent sites. The website advertises its location as “minutes from Duluth” but that would be a hood 15 minutes to the outer limits, a good half hour to the harbor. It isnt on a lake or in the woods, doesnt have a view of Lake Superior, isnt near a state park, and is right on a major intersection of two highways. I dont think it is meant as a northwoods vacation destination per se, but it is located adjacent to a rodeo and horse center so I would guess it is best for lodging close to whatever horsey events are happening next door. Since it isnt far from the Duluth airport and the airport has no hotels by it, perhaps this would be a decent place to stay overnight before an early morning departure, if needed. In sum, a well maintained but basic place to camp that might be a good location for select purposes. Daily, weekly, monthly and seasonal rates.
This is a typical rustic state forest campground located on a couple of lakes with a great fishing reputation. Though each campsite is pretty large and new picnic tables have been installed, the campground overall is in a bit rough shape due to passing storms in recent years that have caused a lot if tree fall. Not only is most if the campground missing a forest canopy due to loss of trees, the campground itself is a bit scruffy due to ongoing maintenance, and the surrounding locale seems to still have a lot of logging going on as part of the clean up. So, this might be a bit of a drawback for some folks. It is a quiet rustic location though, and for fishermen the two lakes on either side are great. There is also an extensive ATV trail network that runs through the area for those who like exploring on ATVs, so that would be a plus for some folks but a drawback for others
This location appears to be the Waverly campground on the map, but it is actually thecprivate tribal park called Bekwidnee which is reserved only for use by members of the Bad River Indian reservation, or others who have obtained permission and local guides. Please respect tribal policy and the posted no trespassing signs!
For folks with RVs who want a camping spot close to the city of Ashland, this is a convenient spot close to the lake. NOTE however that reserving a campsite solely for tent camping is prohibited! Tents are only allowed at sites where the main occupants is an RV and tents for kids or extra guests are allowed. The park is well maintained and family oriented, with all the amenities RVers might want, and it is located right between a bay on the lake and the city center. Ashland itself has a lot to offer, as does the whole area with its fruit orchards, artisan studios, outdoor recreation opportunities, local festivals and more. Stop off at the Ashland-Great Lakes Visitor Center west of town to get the scoop on all the activities and exploring you can do https://www.nglvc.org The downside to this campground is a lack of trees and privacy between sites, which doesnt appeal to me, and the fact that a major construction project is currently going on adjacent to the park, so be prepared for the unsightliness of the worksite along with noise during regular working hours. The park is a great launchpoint for boating and kayaking though (you can bring your own or rent locally) and the water access and public landing is great. For folks who bring their dogs but occasionally want to do local events without Fido, there are some nice local dogsitters available through Rover.com, one I highly recommend is Judy who is located near the campground and often dogsits while folks go out on an afternoon kayaking or to a concert or something. So, this is a good all around spot to camp at with RV’s if exploring Ashland and vicinity
This is a small state forest campground adjacent to the beautiful and wild Brule River of northern Wisconsin. There are drive-in sites for both tenters and folks with small RVs, but be advised there are no hook-ups. The sites are large, well spaced, and rustic, with basic latrines and a communal water pump. The campground is fairly small and fairly remote, however the garbage receptacles were overflowing so clearly staff arent visiting very often and there wasnt evidence of a campground host so I would be a bit concerned about supervision of the campground if I was camping alone, hence I docked my review by one star. That being said, the pros are many, especially for those wanting access to this special river. There are trails up and down the river, for shore casting, and access to the shallows ir bridge fishing as well, and the fishing is equally good for angling or fly fishing. The very best aspect of this campground is its selection of paddle-in or hike-in campsites along the river, large campsites nestled in tall forest pines that could accomodate fishing or canoeing groups. The canoe landing is nicely developed and has easy access, and there are great canoe racks adjacent to the landing as well. This landing is an easy days paddle from a put-in at the outfitter to the south on Highway 2, and an easy paddle from here to the next stops on the Brule River Water Trail, so you could easily plan a nice multi day canoe trip even if you didnt have your own gear. As far as a water trail with canoe campsites go, thus is one of the best II’ve seen!
This is a great spot to stop for info on the National Forest, recreation maps, and tips on good camping sites etc, but aside from being a Ranger Station and info center there is NO CAMPING at this location
This is a typical small town municipal campground that is part of the city park. The main community ball park is located here, along with several playgrounds, volleyball fields, picnic shelters, and a Veterans memorial. There are several camspites with hookups that are very suitable for RV's, and also a tenting area. While not a place to go for a camping vacation destination in and of itself, it would be a great place to stay if visiting the area, attending local events such as the Lake Woebegone Marathon or local fairs etc. However, it happens to be adjacent to an official trailhead of the SooLine spur of the Lake Woebegone Bike Trail, and as such is an awesome place to overnight if on a multi day bike or hike trek on the trail! many people do day trips on this beautiful trail, but having a really nicely set up overnight camping stop for cyclists and hikers makes longer trips possible, which is really great. There is a modern, well kept bathroom facility in the campground and another right at the trail head, and the main street in town in adjacent to the campground so cyclists can easily get to cafes, hardware store, get groceries, whatever. One of the most beautiful covered bridges in Minnesota is also on the bike path over the river adjacent to the campground. A major shout out regarding the local bike rental place in town: if you are an elder or in anyway disabled, they have bike-peddled surreys that seat 2, 4 or 6 people, and the RENTAL IS FREE to groups peddling together with a friend or family member who is disabled or can not bike on their own due to illness, handicap, or age. This is an awesome, awesome policy! So, lots of good reasons to take advantage of the camping opportunity offered in this small, pretty, friendly small town!
I am a tent camper and usually prefer primitive wilderness camping, thus I dont usually consider staying at RV campgrounds or resort type campgrounds. This place would have to be an exception if you wanted a really comfortable camping opportunity on a really beautiful lake! Located not far outside the quaint town of Park Rapids, and great for a variety if day trips to state parks and in state bike and water trails, the campground and the lake it is on is a pleasant destination in and of itself. Most folks are here with RV’s, but there are also camper cabins for glamping, and several tent-only sites that are large and wooded and in great locations near the lake and other campground recreational facilities like the lodge, the beach, the pool, and the game barn. The grounds are heavily wooded and beautifully maintained, the atmosphere is very family friendly, and the lake is great for swimming, fishing and boating. Lots of “resort amenities” without the resort prices, and campers have free access to a fleet if canoes and kayaks. Weekly, monthly and seasonal rates, plus many perennials store their boats and RVs here over the winter. Highly recommended for a northwoods retreat for all kinds of campers!
This was previously one of many canoe campsites on the Crow Wing River water trail, formerly maintained by Huntersville Townsite. However, the campground was purchased by the private Huntersville Canoe Outfitters and is now their private basecamp, so no one can canoe here unless they are signed up for one of the private guided canoe trips offered by the Outfitters. Though the old Huntersville Township park sign is still standing at the entrance, a new sign has been posted near it stating it is now called Cynthia’s Campground. This is confusing; you would think it is still a public campsite for canoers on the WaterTrail, but it is actually off limits to the public. The owners are maintaining the campground with pride and it is certainly in better condition now than the other canoe campsites along the river, for which I might have given a 4 star rating, and reviews on the Outfitter website show that folks enjoy their guided trips with the outfitter. However, it is disappointing that canoe campers on their own are prohibited from staying here or even stopping, even though the site had been originally developed for and designated as an official Water Trail canoe campsite, hence my lower rating due to the exclusivity. If you want to arrange a guided trip with them, their website is: http://www.huntersvillecanoeoutfitters.com
This is yet another canoe campsite and canoe launch on the state—designated Crow Wing River Water Trail https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/watertrails/crowwingriver/index.html This is a good paddle-in stop or primitive camping destination. Though some if the campsite picnic tables have seen better days, the campsites themselves are in good shape, as is the canoe landing. The outhouses are decent and seem relatively new. Plenty of firewood provided. Scenic location and vistas along the river