Janet R.The Dyrt PRO User
Reviewed Sep. 1, 2020

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:

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: 

 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.

  • Location of campsite in Library park, as seen in map #3 of the Mississippi Headwaters watertrail map series
  • watercraft campsite marker as seen from the river
  • Trail from campsite to river landing
  • Room for a whole platoon of canoe campers! Lots of grassy tent space, fire rings and three picnic tables
  • View of campsite from the gardens on the north side, looking towards bike path and river  beyond
  • Looking west along bike path towards campsite and library
  • artsy sculptural benches by campsite, with outdoor amphitheater to the right
  • Grand Rapids in context of the Headwaters water trail
  • Large engraved mural of the whole Mississippi River water trail, from source to sea (Lake Itasca to Gulf of Mexico) on the east side of the campsite
  • Campsite Bear Box, for saftey of both food and valuables whenever you leave the camspite to go into town. Bring your own lock!
  • small water channel from canoe landing out into the river
  • Looking upstream from the canoe landing
SiteCanoe tent site

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