Washington County, which manages campgrounds at both the Lake Elmo Park Reserve and St Croix Bluffs Regional Park, does a great job of maintaining campgrounds, trails, and bathroom facilities at both parks. St Croix Bluffs is right along the St. Croix river - in the summer you can hang out at the sandy beach on the river and in the fall there are many trails to enjoy fall color.
There are multiple areas in the modern campground - one section is for larger rigs that has 50 amp service and water at each site, most sites in the other loops have 20 or 30 amp electric service, and there are a few non-electric tent-only sites as well. The park prohibits both pets and alcohol! There is both a volleyball court and nice play structure in the modern campground.
We camped over MEA break (mid October) at site #4 this year and liked how close it was to the bathroom building. There is a lot of open space behind the parking/tent pad on this site, which made it a perfect spot for the kids to run and play without running close to other camper's sites. Sites 1, 2, 4, and 6 have similar amounts of open space behind the campsites.
In the past we've stayed here as part of a group in the group campsite. The group campsites at this park are some of the best I've stayed in - they include sand volleyball courts, a covered picnic shelter with electricity, a primitive toilet, and access to a large play structure nearby.
I've stayed in both the cabins and the camping area. The cabins are my favorite because of the lake views, proximity to the bathhouse, and heat/AC units. Cabin #5 has the best unobstructed views of the lake. Cabins have WiFi. The campground is nice but only has a primitive toilet adjacent to the campsites. There are no electric or sewer hookups, but there are a couple of tent sites than can accommodate small campers. I camped in site #18 and it either isn't very level or I just did a poor job of setting up my tent because we were slanted all night. Great stargazing at both the cabins and the tent sites.
Check-in information is shared via email (key codes for the bathhouse and the cabin locks). The emails are very informative and the owners have been prompt to reply when I had questions. They even offer up the option to have firewood delivered to your site (either cabin or tent site) before you arrive.
This is my favorite place to stay in Crosby because it's so close to both the Rally Center Trailhead and Crosby. My favorite places in town are Red Raven (great coffee shop with good breakfast and lunch food options), Crosby Pub (wide variety of food - burgers, salads, appetizers), Rafferty's Pizza (pizza and beer plus a couple of arcade games in the back), and Iron Range Eatery (a little fancier than Crosby Pub (but not by much) and offers great food as well). All of these restaurants offer outdoor seating.
The lower campground has electric sites and is situated along Lake Carlos but there is little privacy between sites (126 and 127). We camped with another family so it was nice to have the open space between our sites where the kids could play and run. The boat launch was quite busy and there seemed to be a lot of people not staying in the campground who use the park for the day. The hiking trail along the lake was busy but once we got a little farther out the trails were quiet and peaceful. The highway outside the park was loud at night, it sounded like people were drag racing the Friday and Saturday nights we stayed.
We needed a place to stay for one night on our journey from MN to MI. This is a well run municipal campground located next to the town park, library, and visitor center. Most of the sites aren't shaded, but they all had picnic tables and fire rings.
This was our last and least favorite campground of our week long MI trip. If the weather had been warmer I think we would have had more fun here because the beach and lakefront is gorgeous, but it was too cold to swim. Campsites in the modern campground are small and very close to one another, plus it seemed as though the modern campground was full of giant rigs and trucks. This made for cramped roads and little space to maneuver even our small camper. There are some bike trails that lead out of the park but they don't really go anywhere, they just ended about a mile down the highway. There was a bike park that kids were taking bikes and scooters on that looked fun. There are several playground areas, which was fun for the kids.
Great campground to unplug … literally, as we didn't get cell service within the park. There is WIFI at the modern bathroom, but we only had to use that once. Our site in the West Campground was well shaded, it seemed as though trees separated every campsite allowing for privacy and nature views everywhere. Behind our site we could access the bike/walking trail that led to the historic fort and into the town of Copper Harbor. It was a bit chilly the week we visited so we didn't go swimming, but Lake Fanny Hooe looked gorgeous.
This was our first time camping in Michigan and we loved being so close to Lake Superior. We're used to MN state parks, so we found the campsites in MI to be a bit small and too close to each other. The fire ring for the site behind ours was very close to the bed area of our camper. Our spot was campsite #98. There's not a lot of shade or vegetation between campsites in that row, but it was easy walking distance to the modern restroom/showers and Lake Superior. Next time we would like to camp along the lake. The trail around Lake of the Clouds was well worth it!
There are two campgrounds in this park - the upper one is on the prairie while the lower one is situated among trees along the river. We stayed in the lower campground in site 30. The lower campground is close to the playground and swimming pond but it rained the whole time we camped so we didn't use either.
Sites in the lower campground are fairly close together and we didn't have cell service (Verizon), which wasn't a big deal.
I brought my fat bike and bike the Bluebird and Dakota Valley trails. Both are mowed paths that go through prairie and wooded areas. The actual mountain bike trail was disappointing, it was overgrown, narrow, and hugged a high ridge.
Our site, 30, sloped away from the parking pad. You wouldn't be able to set up.chairs under your awning at this site and the picnic table sat in a low spot that got muddy after 2 straight days of rain. There is a river that runs behind the sites in this loop. Our boys played on the rocks and had a great time.
There are nearby train tracks and trains ran by several times a day, though luckily they don't blow the horn so we didn't notice them much.
Primative campground within the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. Large sites for the most part, suitable for tents or RVs. See map in photos for notes on the physical attributes of each campsite.
No electric, water, or sewer hook ups. If you need to fill your freshwater tank there is a pump across from site #35 that had room to park our camper and fill with a hose (bring your own). Some people brought generators, which is allowed but annoying if you're trying to enjoy the peace and quiet.
No showers, but a dip in Lake Owen was refreshing. Our site was near the path to the beach, which is a short walk. No dogs allowed in the water or beach. Kayaks and canoes can be rented from the campground hosts.
Good food and options nearby in Cable. For amazing bloody Mary's head to Garnish Inn (about 20 min away).
Poor cell service.
Sites are large and well spaced. Free wifi, several pit toilets along with a new shower/restroom building. No playground or beach. Our kids mainly played at the campsite or rode their bikes around the loop by the sites in the 400s.
In my opinion the sites in the 400s were the most shaded (though none were heavily shaded) and had more grass. Our friends stayed in #402 and their site was similar but with more boulders on the site perimeter. Neither site had good trees for hammocks.
Firewood was a good deal - all you could use for $6/day.
There is a boat launch near the campground as well as a day use area in the park (need to drive there). The day use area is beautiful and you can walk down to the lake, fish, or picnic.
In Ely both the Wolf Center and the Bear Center are great places to visit. If you can only visit one I would recommend the Bear Center as you get to see the animals more up close and the guided tour is very informative.