Janet R.


Bemidji, MN

Joined November 2017

Biogeographer, explorer, adventurer

Five-star state park camping for tenters

We had a really great weekend exploring Glendalough, in the Ottertail Lakes region where the northwoods transitions out to prairie. Lots of lakes, a mosaic of habitats from pine and aspen forest to maple and ash woodlands, to oak savannah, to fens and marshes and lakes and streams and prairie. The camping opportunities here are really unique, it is one of the few state parks in our state where there are no RV's or car camping,, you have to hike in with your tent and gear on trails into the campground, or paddle across the lake to some of the more remote campsites, or backpack or bike around to the other side of the lake on trails to more dispersed sites. It is awesome. The lakes are ranked among the most pristine in the state and are designated"Heritage Lakes" because of the water qulity and the diverse habitats around them. They also have a few camper cabins or yurts that you can rent which you can cart in to or hike to with your gear. It makes for a very quiet, very secluded and very peaceful retreat with quiet outdoorsy like-minded neighbors. In the summer they have all kinds of environmental education programs, and you can learn on your own with their field guides and good interpetive trails explaining the activity of the glaciers through here, how the landscape formed and how different microclimates and habitiats evolved after the glaciers retreated. They are open year round, in the winter you can cross-country ski or snowshoe in for winter camping. Pretty cool!

Great spot for serious fishermen

This is a combo campground and city park, a joint effort of the Minnesota Dept of Natural Resources and the city of Baudette. While serving the recreational needs of townsfolk, it also provides great access to the famous Rainy River and a good place for out of town fishermen to stay. The campgound has water and electric hookups for RVs, and a separate primitive tenting area for those who prefer quiet tent camping. Clean restrooms and amazing hot showers. Good play areas for kids and family dogs, and access to community recreation areas such as ball park, horseshoes, volleyball etc. The fishing ramp is a beautifully maintained professional ramp with cement apron and docks, for good access for fishing boats on trailers, canoes or kayaks. This section of the Rainy River is a fishermans paradise, with sturgeon and other prizes, so it is great to have a spot to camp right on the river if you want to go fishing. 

There are only two issues, you will need to be careful while fishing as the river marks the border with Canada and you do have to be careful on which side you are fishing. Also, the Canadian Pacific Railroad runs right along the river and the frequent trains are a little noisy. Otherwise, if fishing is your mission, this is a comfortable, convenient and clean place to camp.

Riverside seclusion in an historic location

This is a review for the walk-in, canoe-in campsite #C1.  It is actually located in a secluded part of the park, more than a mile from the main campground.  It is meant to be a campsite for park campers who want a more private location than the regular campground and dont mind backpacking or carting their gear in, or for paddlers from the Mississippi River who access it as a Water Trail stop by paddling to it up Pike Creek.  The park itself is located near the town of Little Falls, MN and there is easy access from Hwy 10, or from the River. In all honesty, I have driven past Little Falls many times en route to Minneapolis or elsewhere but never stopped; I never realized what a small hidden jewel this park is, and within it what a terrific camping opportunity exists here for secluded walk-in or paddle-in campers.

The campsite itself is gorgeous, a beautiful setting on the sandy banks of Pike Creek. My friend and I packed in our gear on the short hiking trail to get here, but I do have a friend who paddled in here not long ago and recommended it highly. Pike Creek is a clear, beautiful stream that is peaceful to camp on, and there are several hikes you can make from the site. There is a heavy duty fire ring with sturdy grill, tenting spots for several tents, picnic table, steps down to the water, swimming access nearby, and rack to store your canoe or kayak if you have one. You do need to hike about 2/10 of a mile to get to bathrooms and water source; you have to hike about a mile to the main campground if you want showers. But if you don't mind the trek for any of those, this is one sweet campsite!

While we were here, we hiked the trail along Pike Creek which was scenic, including rapids; there are many wooded trails, and a longer trail to hike into the location where Charles Lindbergh landed the "Jenny" in 1927 on what was then an open field on the family homestead. We also hiked to the Missisippi River, which is a nice trail in and of itself, but also leads to two history museums and a Living History Site, one operated by the county historicall society (http://morrisoncountyhistory.org/)  , the others by the Minnesota State Historical Society ( https://www.littlefallsmn.com/things-to-do/charles-lindbergh-house-and-museum ) .  The land encompassed by the park is hisotric for 2 reasons: Zebulon Pike spent the winter here with a search party who were going up river to search for the source of the Mississippi River, and probably camped right at the very campsite here on the sores of Pike Creek; and a century later it was the homestead of the Lindbergh family and where aviator Charles grew up. So, camping here is a pleasure if you are interested in history as well as nature, off the beaten path. 

In addition, you can bike a bike trail to Little Falls which then connects you to  maze of local trails, https://www.littlefallsmn.com/things-to-do/bike-and-hike , or while at the park you can paddle the river (rent gear locally if you didnt bring your own: http://www.shirleymaesoutfitters.com/ )  

You can also drive bout 5 miles to a terrific National Wildlife Refuge at Crane Meadows, we hiked there and really enjoyed bird watching and the rare oak savannah and tall grass prairie. 

This campsite is really a hidden jewel. The only reason I didnt give it 5 stars was because there is a train line that runs along the Mississippi River a few miles from the campsite, and the sound of train whistles in the evening really carries. Otherwise it is very secluded and beautiful, and a great choice if wanting to explore the area. if you are a birder, the tremendous variety of birds  (kingfishers, various woodpeckers, warblers, waterfowl, and more)  is great, though be forewarned that a screech owl hangs out near this campsite, and it was a bit unnerving the first time we heard it!

Tiny-house farm-stay!

What a privilege it was to spend a night here! I had been out of town and away from home the previous week, and decided I would stop here on the long drive home in order to break up my trip. It wasnt just goid stopover, but a great retreat to restore body, mind and spirit. This listing for the Creekwood Cabin is a new listing on the“Hipcamp” website, which is like Airbnb for campgrounds, campsites, camper cabins, etc, that are located on private properties like farms and vineyards. The Theisens, Todd and Sarah, are the stewards of a beautiful farm focused on organic, sustainable and restorative land practices on acreage that is a mix of prairie, forest, wetlands, and rolling hills. They have free range cows, pigs and chickens who roam the farm freely and who are pretty happy campers themselves, it seems! The Theisens also have a traditional woodcraft and wood products business using sustainable harvest of hardwoods on their land, turning downed trees into planks for hardwood floors, wall panelling, countertops and other home woodwork for area homes. Currently in production when I was there were several outhouses to be uses at the campsites they are setting up in various wooded groves on their farm, and in the works are the production if several tiny homes that will serve as camper cabins on their farm. Any tree wood not used in their products is chipped and used as woods for the miles of walking trails they are setting up over hill and dale on the property, and for sawdust for their composting toilets for their guest facilities. As of yet, the tent campsites and tiny house camper cabins are still being constructed and are a“work in progress”, but given what I saw will be really wonderful when finished. I had the opportunity to stay in their recently opened Creek Wood Cabin, which is an amazing showcase of both their hospitality and their best woodwork artisanry. This cabin is set in a shady grove of mature trees on a hill overlooking a peaceful pond and marsh. I was serenaded all night by frogs and owls and more. The cabin is constructed with all local materials, including of course woodwork from their own trees. The cabin has a full working kitchen including microwave, stove, fridge and sink, so you can bring all you need for your own meal prep. There is one open bedroom with a comfy double bed on the main floor, and two more double beds in the sunny loft above. The sitting area is complete with two rocking chairs and a library of amazing books related to sustainable living, simplicity, camping, and various topics to restore the spirit. There are large sunny windows on all walls which makes the cabin sunny and cheerful and makes the interior woodwork glow with warmth. There is a wood stove and a well stocked wood box, but there is also electric baseboard heat. There is running water with an on-demand water heater, but the toilet is an efficient low impact composting toilet so be prepared to flush with sawdust instead if water when using the facilities! Next to the cabin is a heavenly sauna that is set up for either dry or steam saunas. I loved having a sauna before bedtime and sleeping soundly til the rooster crowed at sunrise. When I had arrived the night before, Todd took me out in his RTV to tour the whole farm to see all the animals and the farming and woodworking operations, and also showed me all the trails I could go on. So, when the rooster called me forth the next morning I knew just where to go for my morning walk. When I returned, I reD for a while and journaled for a while til Sarah showed up at the cabin door with a basket containing my piping hot breakfast complete with fresh scrambled eggs from their henhouse. After breakfast, I visited the cows and their calves in their peaceful meadow, including one calf who was pals with the Bernese mountain dogs of the farm and preferred to frolick with the dogs rather than the other calves! Then more resting, writing and relaxing in the cozy cabin before continuing in my way. I would have to recommend this cabin stay as one if the loveliest I have experienced, and I know I will be back for more! In summer, guests would enjoy being in the farm itself and learning all the Theisens can share able simple low impact living and sustainable farming and restorative land management. If staying here you could also visit like-minded facilities like the organic gardens or art studios of the nearby College of St Benedict, or the solar farm or Arboretum and restored prairie at nearby St Johns University. St Johns and St Bens also have myriad hiking trails and places for meditation both indoors and out. Guests of the cabin can easily access both campuses just minutes away by car or bike, with additional biking further afield on the nearby Lake Woebegone state bike trail. During the school year there are myriad cultural activities on both campuses that cabin guests could take advantage of, and a winter time stay would also be lovely with the chance for snowshoeing or cross country skiing on the farm itself or in the area, as well as the chance to just rest, read, write and restore in the peace and quiet and coziness if the cabin. It would be the kind of retreat that Thoreau himself would heartily recommend, but Thoreau never had it this good in his own cabin! Come check it out for yourself, or come for the tent camping or tiny house experience as soon as those options are ready!

Duplicate listing

Note: I am writing a 1-star review here just because this listing is actually a duplicate that should be merged or deleted with the original listing, but sometimes that process is slow. Do not use the location shown on this listing, the correct location is on the original listing, see review here: 


Beautiful shady camping on the Apple River!

We had a last minute idea to go camping on Labor Day weekend, hopefully omewhere near St Croix Falls so we could visit Interstate State Park and explore the surrounding area.  As luck would have it, there were no campsites avaialble at any of the local state parks on the Wisconsin side or Minnesota side of the river. So, we checked for other area campgrounds and discovered this gem of a private campground right on the shores of the Apple River. This is mostly a campground that rents seasonal sites to RV owners, and these are tucked away in the woods near the river with a real sense of privacy. But, for the casual camper,  they also have a swath of sites located right ON  the river, including sites with hookups if desired, or a separate lane of very large and very secluded tent sites also right on the river that I dare say are nicer than any of the tent sites at area state parks. The Apple River is really beautiful, and if we had brought our kayaks we could have plopped them right in the river from our campsites and had an amazing paddlle on this pristine tributary of the St Croix.  (See attached photo for map of the Apple River upstream towards its various headwaters lakes. Further down the Apple River is a canyon and whitewater section for tubing or paddling: 


We were in site T3, which had an electric hookup used by friends who joined us in their van; there was also a water hookup which was handy even if we didnt hook up to it. There was a fair amount of  space at our site, but If we were to come back again we would want a bit more space and privacy so we would absolutely go for one of the tent sites, any one of them would be great! The campground over all is clean and well maintained, a lot of retired folks as seasonal campers but also a lot of families with kids, and a nice family atmosphere. Given that is was Labor Day weekend and every site ended up being taken, you might expect it to be busy and loud, but it was pleasant and quiet, and the neighbors friendly, The bathrooms and showers were clean and well kept, and bleach water disinfectant was avaialble to wipe down surfaces if anyone had concenrs. There is a small pub with a patio attached to the campground office, but it was surprisingly quiet and low key. There is volleyball and more outdoor games adjacent, and this is all a bit set apart from the campground anyway. Along the river is a small beach, boat dock for canoes and kayaks and fishing, and a nice playground for kids.  It is a good 20-minutes to half hour drive to Interstate State Park and the Falls towns, which has pluses and minuses. We also took the opportunity to try some hiking a little closer to the campground, and enjoyed the Stower Seven Lakes Trail on the old Soo Line : https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/parks/stower

Other outdoor activities and special places to visit in Polk County near the campground: 


Really a lovely spot, and a nice surprise.

A literally Literary Campsite

A literally literary campsite! This is a recently developed campsite for through-paddlers on the Mississippi Headwaters Water Trail. It was developed by a local “River Angel” family who are part of the Mississippi River paddlers group, with cooperation of the city and with funding from the local Blandin Foundation. It is located on the beautifully landscaped grounds of the municipal public library, so you can relax and read while staying at this campsite! For paddlers on the Mississippi Headwaters Water Trail

it is a welcome addition to the area campsite options, especially as paddling through Grand Rapids is slow due to having to portage around two dams en route.  (see map here: https://files.dnr.state.mn.us/maps/canoe_routes/mississippi3.pdf

The campsite is marked from the river with the standard DNR water trail canoe campsite signage. There is a wide easy access from the river, though it doesn’t have a dock and can be a little mucky when the river is high. There is a fire ring and a couple of picnic tables, along with a lockable bear-box which, in this case, could be used to lock up your valuables so you can go into town. Since the campsite is right on a path and bike trail in the city library park, safe storage is important if you want to leave the campsite for any reason . In addition to being adjacent to the beautiful town library and flower gardens, there are many cafes, stores, and more, including a local microbrewery and a great coffeehouse, within an easy block or two walking distance. The campsite location is great, perfect for canoe campers.  Of note if you stop here is an incredible mural that is an in-laid map of the whole Mississippi River, from Lake Itasca to New Orleans. There is no cost to camp here, but camping is limited to paddlers on the water trail, or bikers from the nearby Taconite Trail. Infor on the Taconite Trail is here: 


Note: Unfortunately, there are no bathrooms right at the campsite. You will have to use the facilities at one of the nearby businesses.   Prior to covid precautions,  you could have access to the library  bathrooms and access to drinking water there, but hours are now limited.  If you want to access full shower and bathroom facilities you can walk across the bridge that is adjacent to the campsite, over the river to the YMCA on the opposite shore, (there is a visitors fee but reasonably good hours most days.) Access the YMCA website here: https://ymcaitasca.org/operational-hours 

 The lights in the library parking lot adjacent to the campsite do have electrical receptacles if you need to plug in to re-charge anything. There is public wifi accessible outdoors from the library adjacent to the campsite.

Alternative to Banning State Park

We discovered this campground while researching the area, it is fairly new and not only not reviewed on the Dyrt but not listed on it yet either. If you are planning to explore the Kettle River and Banning State Park nearby, this is a good alternative to camping within the State Park itself. With easy access to both the Twin Cities metro area and Duluth, with desireable whitewater paddling and rockclimbing both available in the area, Banning State Park campground fills quickly especially in summer and on weekends, and the Banning RV Park is an excellent backup alternative for overflow demand. And, actually, it may be your go-to option even if campsites at Banning are available, because this RV campground is located only½ mile from the Banning State Park entrance, and because it is at a higher elevation further from the river it is remarkably less buggy which Banning State Park can be in springtime or after recent rains. This campground is quite large, geared towards RVs and trailers but also has dozens of tent sites and is currently adding more! There are also several nice new camper cabins available. We stayed in site 297, a very large double tent site with soft grass for tenting, big shady trees, picnic table and fire ring, with possibility for water and electric hookup but we didn’t use it. We had two families with 3 tents and two vehicles, plus bought firewood(which was delivered in generous quantities) and the total price was$48, which would have been the cost of the two campsites we would have needed if camping at the nearby state park. We were located near the campground pavilion, which included picnic tables, family bathrooms with showers, playground, activity center with craft classes etc, and laundry room. Remarkably, in addition to playgrounds for children in different places around the campground, there was a huge dog walking and play area that was grassy and beautifully clean—and, of special interest, included a complete“dog playground” with all the standards elements of a dog agility course! Very cool—and an expense and effort most places wouldn’t go to. The campground itself was very clean and well landscaped and maintained, however the bathrooms do get heavy use and, though nicely cleaned a few times during the day, are in need of attention in the evening. The campers are mostly family oriented so the campground itself is very quiet in the evenings—however, it is not far from nearby Highway 35, so there is a fair amount of road noise despite a barrier of pines planted as a buffer. I was a bit concerned that folks camping there were not too concerned about covid precautions, no one was wearing masks even when participating at close range to others during some of the campgrounds organized group activities, and there was lotion soap but no hand sanitizer in the bathrooms. You may want to bring your own. Overall, nicely maintained, reasonably priced, conveniently located, and less buggy than the nearby state park! We would camp here again if returning to the area.

Scenic community campground

 This is a small but beautifully maintained city park in the charming village of Palisade. It provides easy access to recreational activities such as fishing and boating on the Mississippi River, and hiking, cycling or riding ATV’s on the nearby the Soo-Line Trail which stretches from Moose Lake to Cass Lake. See info on the Soo Line trail here: 


There are campsites designed for RV’s and trailers, and other sites perfect for tenters, including sites for through-paddlers on the Mississippi Headwaters Water Trail 

(see water trail map here:  https://files.dnr.state.mn.us/maps/canoe_routes/mississippi4.pdf

 There is a good quality boat landing and ramp, fishing piers, nice full service bathrooms, playground and picnic shelter, and easy walking access to the town center with hardware store, gas, and several nice cafes with good home cooking. The location is very scenic, and the campers seem to be friendly and family oriented. There is are several educational kiosks on the premises for learning about the river which is a nice touch. I would recommend this for paddlers passing through, or as a destination for weekend recreation.

Pleasant camping at Pokegama

Pokegema Dam This is a campground established by the Army Corps of Engineers, adjacent to the Pokegama Dam. Highlights include fishing in the rapids below the dam, or in the still river water above it, camping and relaxing under the tall pines in the campground, canoeing and kayaking on the river, and having a base to explore nearby Grand Rapids and attractions like the Minnesota State Forest History Museum a few miles away. Unless you are here for the fishing on site, though, you will probably use this campground as a base to do day trips in the area, as the campground is not big enough to feature hiking trails and other on-site activities. The campground seems oriented towards RV and trailer camping, with hook-ups and hard packed gravel vehicle access on most sites. A few sites do include sufficient grassy areas for tent camping. Almost all the campsites are located on the shores of the Mississippi River just downstream from the dam, and are sheltered under huge shady pines. The setting is more beautiful and scenic than can be seen from the road when passing by. Unfortunately, that road is the 4-lane highway 2, which provides easy access to the campground, but also adds a bit of road noise to your experience. Plus factors include a thoughtfully designed handicapped accessible campsite, several canoe campsites for paddling the Headwaters Water trail, and easy fishing access via boat landing, the dam itself, and various fishing piers. Everything is sparkling clean and there are bathrooms, showers, potable water, and a kids playground.

Nice for activities, busy and buggy for camping

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.

Quiet camping on the Point

 This is a Chippewa National Forest campground on the tip of Tamarack Point which juts way into Lake Winnibigoshish. It is a haven for folks who like to fish, or walk on quiet forest backroads. There is a standard basic US Forest Service campground for tents and trailers(no hookups though) along with a paddlers tent site located at the nearby boat launch. At the present time, the regular campground is officially closed due to staffing issues with the covid-shutdown, but the nearby USFS boat launch is still open, and through paddlers on the Mississippi Headwaters Water trail can tent here if traversing Lake Winnie and not able to make it the whole way across. Under ordinary circumstances, the campground offers several nice basic but heavily forested campsites which would be very enjoyable for tenters who want a more secluded camping experience. Some sites have RV and trailer possibilities, but without hookups so be prepared. Folks like camping here for the quiet National Forest destination, and for fishing in Lake Winnie. Though the water is clear and pristine, a recent infestation of zebra mussels does make the beaches a bit crunch now, and you need to take care to clean watercraft so as not to transport veligers to other locations. The boat launch has a good ramp with great lake access, and it is easy to pull out or put in a canoe or kayak here as well. The paddler tentsite here just has a grassy site and fire ring though, so be prepared, but it is a good stopover site if trying to traverse the lake from west to east on the water trail.

Camping at historic location

The quality of this campground is really a 4, however the location is a little  bit out of the way for doing day trips, exploring and access to the Chippewa National Forest. It is not on Lake Winnie, so you have to drive to a boat landing to launch your watercraft, and there is swimming at a nearby beach but it is not on the premises. However, the grounds are meticulously maintained and the camping prices cant be beat--$20 a night for tent camping, and $35 a night for full RV campsite with hookups. There is a playground. laundry facilities, and full bathrooms. There are also many walking trails on the premises. The general store on the premises provides staples and treats. If you prefer, there are also vintage cabins you can stay in here. Best of all, staying here supports a local family business including their painstaking efforts to maintain an hisotric general store and vintage vacation spot that was established almost a century ago and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Great camping and cabins close to Winnie Dam

This is primarily a cabin resort, however camping is also offered for both RV's and tenters. Camping rates are a little hard to find on the website, so check them at this link:https://www.thepinesresort.com/camping/camping-rates

There is a nice swimming area and dock on the lake, a camp store, boat rentals, laundry facilities, etc. I think staying in the cabins might be a nicer experience for a long term stay, as the campsites are rather open and close together, but the lake access and amenities are favorable for a short stay. 

For through paddlers on the Mississippi Headwaters Water Trail, this is the most convenient campsite above the Winnie Dam. The tent sites are only $25 per night, you have more amenities than at the COE or Forest campgrounds on the other side of the dam, and your portage around the dam from the campground to the boat launch below is super easy if you have a canoe or kayak cart--just pull out at the resort boat launch dock, cart your craft a short walk on the paved road across the dam, and put in at the COE boat launch below the dam.Much preferable to scaling the dam on the steep rocky portage that is on the east side of the dam, plus you have a decent and reasonably priced place to camp the night before.  So for that type of camping, this spot is ideal!

Full service resort with camping available at Winnie Dam

At a rate of$40 a night for camping here with all the amenities of a resort, this is a pretty good deal! Campers have access to the heated pool, free use of canoes and kayaks, there is a camp store and bait shop, showers and bathrooms and indoor recreation facilities in the lodge, and a boat launch(though you do have to pay extra to reserve docking space). The campsites are pet friendly too. However, the campsites are a bit close together and would not be my favorite way to camp. For paddlers crossing Lake Winnie on the Mississippi Headwaters Water Trail, this is a convenient place to camp, with easy pull out to the southwest side of the Winnie dam, and more amenities than the Forest Service campground or COE campground on the other side of the dam. From here, paddlers just have a short portage on the paved road across the dam to the downstream boat launch below it.

Variety of camping options at Big Sandy

This campground is in a sweet location on the banks of hisotric and beautiful Big Sandy lake. There are standard tent and RV sites, as well as camper cabin options. Some of the campsites are close together in the main campground, but there are also walk-in sites avaiable. This location is family friendly with boat launch, picnicking, playground, and hisotrical exhibits about the dam and its history, and about the old furpost that used to be here. The campground is wooded and shady and the lake is very pristine, and very large so you have options for all kidns of boating and water activities. Of interest for hikers is the nearby Savannah Portage State Park wihich has miles and miles of hiking trails, including the famous historic portage through the Floodwood swamp between the Savannah River, St Louis River, and Mississippi River, which was important for centuries during the fur trade era and for native americans prior to that time. This is a beautiful near-wilderness part of the state, and this campground on beautiful Big Sandy is a real asset. For paddlers on the Mississippi River Water Trail, you only have a short detour of less than 1/2 mile up the Sandy River  from its confluence with the Mississippi River in order to access the campground, and it is a great option in an area of the water trail that doesnt have many other options nearby

Great for your fishing vacation

Winnie Dam This campground is a high quality, well kept federal campground sponsored and maintained by the US Army Corps of Engineers. It is adjacent to the Dam that marks the outlet of the Mississippi River from Lake Winnibigoshsish. Folks enjoy camping here for the tremendous fishing opportunities on Lake Winnie or the Mississippi River, with boat access at the campground boat launch below the dam, or the DNR/ Forest Service Boat Launch at Plug Hat Point above the dam. There are also possibilities for hiking and ATV riding on nearby trails in the Chippewa National Forest. The campsites here are basic campsites, but there are facilities in the form of regular bathrooms and newer outhouses. Sites are wooded and shady with a fair amount of space in between. Fire ring and tables included. There is a campground manager and good maintenance by campground staff, and there is a resident campground host who can advise on area recreation and other info. There is a playground and picnic area adjacent to the boat launch. Paddlers on the Headwaters canoe trail may want to overnight here, but would need to access this campground either via a half mile portage from the Plug Hat Point boat launch above the dam, or via a short but very steep and rocky portage right at the dam on the left(east) side.

Full service resort with camping available at High Banks landing

This is a full service fishing resort with a lodge and cabin rental, but RV and tent camping is also available. The campsites are very nice and wooded, the tenting sites include some very secluded spots back in the woods which is nice for solitude but precludes a view of the lake. There are daily rates as well as weekly rates for camping or cabin stays. This is a top notch place to stay for a fishing vacation, off the beaten path but with full amenities. It can be a destination vacation spot, or can be a great stop-over  for through-paddlers crossing Lake Winnie on the Mississippi River Headwaters Water Trail. Although near the National Forest campground on Tamarack Point, this has many more amenities which is nice when you are so far from the nearest town, especially if you are paddling through and have no vehicle for travel. Amenities include groceries, ice cream shop, full service boat launch and fishing supplies, and more. You might not be into winter camping in a tent, but there are ice houses to rent that you could camp in if you come in winter. More expensive than usual campgrounds, but with more amenities provided and with a stellar location. Pets welcome at no extra charge! Seasonal campsite rental can also be arranged.

Small and limited access during pandemic

This location is actually a duplicate of The Dyrts Plug Hat Point listing which is here and should be merged: https://thedyrt.com/camping/minnesota/plug-hat-point

Also, note that the location needs to be corrected, Plug Hat Point Campground is at Latitude 47.439 N Longitude-94.055 W .

This is a small National Forest camping area with picnicking, fishing, and a boat landing. At present time, there is full boat access, picnicking and parking  available at this location, but the  adjacent drive-in  campsites are closed to vehicle camping during the pandemic due to reduced Forest Service staffing. However, paddlers on the Mississippi Headwaters water trail are allowed to tent here as dispersed campers adjacent to the picnic area while through-paddling. There are outhouses and water avaialble in the picnic area, as well as use of the boat launch which has a nice dock and cement ramp for easy access. From here, paddlers with a canoe or kayak cart can easily portage around the Winnie Dam about 1/2 mile to river launch site below the dam, thus avoiding the  very steep, rocky and difficult portage that is located right at the dam. You do need a good portage cart, however, as the access road from Plug Hat Point is not paved.

Great recreation, campsites need improvement

Robinson Park This is a county park located on the south border of Banning State Park, and it includes a hiking trail that is contiguous with a state park trail that leads to the scenic Wolf Falls. In terms of recreation, Robinson Park encompasses much of what was once a sandstone quarry and is now a primo rock climbing destination for folks from throughout the Midwest.(See climbers review here: https://www.mountainproject.com/area/105812719/robinson-park)) The park also has picnic area, boat launch, canoe launch and portage around nearby rapids, and the end of a white water rafting route. The park offers camping too, but the campground is in need of an upgrade(which is in the works) and, because demand for camping here far exceeds the availability, previous campers have created a lot of unofficial campsites that aren’t allowed and not maintained as such, but heavily used anyway. There are three official primitive tent campsites which are nice if you can get them, but are first come first served. There are two group campsites that are very nice, very well maintained, and very conveniently located to both rock climbing areas and water access, and are reasonably priced at$30 a night, but although it is possible to reserve them they are snapped up pretty quickly. There are basic bathrooms and water available here, but not too much else in the way of amenities. I see that a previous camper mentioned feeling like the campground was a bit unkempt and spooky. I am guessing, as she arrived at twilight, that she may have entered the park and followed the road directly to the area along the river where the“unofficial” and unkempt campsites are. Unfortunately, as you enter the park, the signage is not real clear with regard to where the campsites are located. As you enter, coming down the hill into the park towards the picnic and boat launch area, you actually have to make a U-turn and go to the far east end of the parking lot to see the campsite sign and access road into the official camping area. It’s a little hard to figure out if you haven’t been there before. There is payment required for camping here, but it is on the honor system and has to be delivered to an office in the village of Sandstone nearby. I think the group campsites look like a pretty nice option, but as no park officials are on duty on the premises I could see that it might be a lonely spot for camping if no one else is there. Probably, If I were there for rock climbing or boating, I would either camp with a group, or camp in the nearby Banning state park or private Banning RV Campground nearby.

As mentioned, improvements to this site are in the works, and will make this site vastly better when complete. You can see the master plan here: http://sandstone.govoffice.com/vertical/sites/%7BE367B94F-BFCA-40F7-864E-7F13B6756254%7D/uploads/03006-000_Robinson_Report_March_2016(1).pdf