Camping in Minnesota

Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes, none-to-mention its many forests and waterways. Campers can choose from idyllic lakeside canoe camping to plush full-service RV campsites. The state’s diverse terrain ranges from the Superior Upland’s rugged wilderness (it’s part of the Canadian Shield) to the glacier shaped landscape of woodlands, prairies, and lakes. Minnesota’s many trails, water activities, and wildlife viewing opportunities make it a lovely camping destination!

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Top-rated campgrounds in Minnesota

Tettegouche State Park

Tettegouche State Park ( TET-ə-gooch) is a Minnesota state park on the north shore of Lake Superior 58 miles (93 km) northeast of Duluth in Lake County on scenic Minnesota Highway 61. The park's name stems from the Tettegouche Club, an association of local businessmen which purchased the park in 1910 from the Alger-Smith Lumber Company. The club's members protected the area until its sale in 1...

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Temperance River State Park

Temperance River State Park is a state park of Minnesota, USA, located between the communities of Schroeder and Tofte on Highway 61 on the North Shore of Lake Superior. It has campsites, picnic areas, and hiking trails on both sides of the Temperance River.

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Jay Cooke State Park

Jay Cooke State Park is a state park of Minnesota, United States, protecting the lower reaches of the Saint Louis River. The park is located about 10 miles (16 km) southwest of Duluth and is one of the ten most visited state parks in Minnesota. The western half of the park contains part of a rocky, 13-mile (21 km) gorge. This was a major barrier to Native Americans and early Europeans travel...

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Split Rock Lighthouse State Park

Split Rock Lighthouse State Park is a state park of Minnesota on the North Shore of Lake Superior. It is best known for the picturesque Split Rock Lighthouse, one of the most photographed lighthouses in the United States. Built by the United States Lighthouse Service in 1910, the lighthouse and some adjacent buildings have been restored and the Minnesota Historical Society operates them as a m...

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Gooseberry Falls State Park

Gooseberry Falls State Park is a state park of Minnesota, United States, on the North Shore of Lake Superior. The park is located in Silver Creek Township, about 13 miles (21 km) northeast of Two Harbors, Minnesota in Lake County on scenic Minnesota Highway 61. The park surrounds the mouth of the Gooseberry River and includes Upper, Middle and Lower Gooseberry Falls.

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William O Brien State Park

William O'Brien State Park is a 1,520-acre (6.2 km2) state park of Minnesota, USA, along the St. Croix River. Its hiking trails traverse rolling glacial moraine, riparian zones, restored oak savanna, wooded areas and bogs. It is a popular place for birdwatching, picnics, camping, cross-country skiing, canoeing, fishing, and other typical outdoor recreational activities. The park is located appr...

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Superior National Forest

The Lake Isabella State Forest is a state forest located in Lake County, Minnesota. The forest is located completely within the Superior National Forest and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, and is thus subject to the management of the United States Forest Service. At 638 acres (258 ha), it one of the smallest forests in the Minnesota state system. Hiking, canoeing, and kayaking are po...

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Whitewater State Park

Whitewater State Park is a state park of Minnesota, United States, preserving a stretch of the Whitewater River surrounded by rocky bluffs. It is located in Winona County in the southeastern blufflands area of the state. The 2,700-acre (11 km2) park features scenic overlooks and trout fishing in the spring-fed Whitewater River and Trout Run Creek. It has about 300,000 visitors annually, and is...

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How to scan Minnesota parks for cancellations

Is the Minnesota park you want to camp at sold out? We can help! Campers often cancel their camping reservations. Campnab monitors Minnesota parks and can text you when a suitable campsite one opens up! 🙂

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A map of campgrounds in Minnesota


Campnab scans these Minnesota parks for cancellations

Information about Minnesota camping

Your guide to Minnesota parks and camping

Whether you’re looking for adventure in the wilderness or to unwind and relax, Minnesota’s parks offer all of the above. A million acres, filled with forests and glacial lakes, welcome campers to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. More comfort-inclined campers will find numerous amenity-rich, family-friendly campgrounds to kick back at—in a tent, RV, or yurt.

Nearly 10 million people visit Minnesota’s state parks each year. The system includes 66 state parks, nine recreation areas, and nine waysides. The state’s 4,466 campsites have 244 horse campsites and 104 group camps. Itasca is Minnesota’s oldest state park. Glacial Lakes State Park contains distinct glacial landforms. Judge C.R. Magney State Park is known for the mysterious Devil’s Kettle waterfall.

You’ll find six national parks in Minnesota. Voyageurs National Park (named after the French-Canadian fur traders) lakes, streams, rock ridges, cliffs, wetlands, and forests—some of which you can only reach by water. Houseboating is popular in this park. Folks often visit Grand Portage National Monument to learn about the fur trade, exploration, and colonization of the northwest. It also offers two remote backcountry campsites at Fort Charlotte. Paddlers enjoy multi-day trips along the Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway.

Minnesota’s regions and terrain

Although known as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes”, there are actually 11,842 lakes in Minnesota. The state also has over 6,500 rivers and streams and 90,000 miles of shoreline. Glaciers shaped much of Minnesota’s landscape, leaving vast woodlands, fertile prairies, and lakes. Minnesota’s four main geographic regions are Superior Upland, the Young Drive Plains, the Dissected Till Plains, and the Driftless Area.

Superior Upland, in the northern half of Minnesota, is comprised of deep lakes, dense forests, and rugged terrain (including Canadian Shield). This region is home to the state’s highest point: Eagle Mountain. The Young Drift Plains are in Minnesota’s south and central parts. Glacial activity formed these rolling plains, which make for some of the nation’s best farmland.

The rich soil and deep valleys of the Dissected Till Plains are in the state’s southwestern corner. This area offers visitors a view of the state’s agricultural heritage, chock full of small towns and farms. To the southeast is the Driftless Area. It’s known for deep river valleys along the Mississippi River and scenic landscapes. Those looking for a break from camping can explore the region’s charming towns, historic architecture, and antique shops.

Types of camping in Minnesota

Regardless of how you like to camp, Minnesota has something to offer. Campgrounds at state parks and national forests provide traditional camping in natural settings. Or, you might opt for county or municipal campgrounds closer to attractions and amenities. Privately owned campgrounds offer unique camping experiences with modern facilities and amenities. Army Corps of Engineers Campgrounds (they welcome all campers) are often located near the water, which is excellent for those who like fishing.

Those who prefer peace and quiet in the wilderness can camp in Minnesota’s backcountry. If a bed is required, dispersed camping is another option. (Not sure how? Read The Absolute Newbie’s Guide to Boondocking.) Minnesota’s developed campgrounds offer tent camping as well as RV options. Check each park individually to confirm maximum RV lengths and hook-up details. Those without a proper camping setup might opt for yurt camping or just renting a cabin. Doing so allows you to enjoy being in nature with some modern comforts.

Winter camping in Minnesota is never crowded and entirely mosquito-free. It also allows you to go snowshoeing or cross-country skiing from your campsite. Nevertheless, most Minnesotans choose to camp between late spring and early fall because being cold can sort of suck.

Nature and wildlife in Minnesota

Minnesota’s original vegetation is needleleaf forest (pine, spruce, fir), hardwood forest (oak, maple, basswood, and others), and tallgrass prairie. Today, these areas are used for urban and agricultural purposes, but there is notable second-growth forest. The lavender flowers of American Pasqueflower are a Minnesotan sign of spring, as is Sharp-lobed Hepatica. Red Columbine attracts hummingbirds, while butterflies seek out the Swamp Milkweed and Butterfly-weed.

If you bring your camera, zoom lens, and a little patience, you can take some great wildlife photos in Minnesota. White-tailed are common in the state, whereas gray wolves, moose, and shy black bears are primarily found in the north. Near the water, you might spot bald eagles, sometimes noisy loons (Minnesota’s state bird), industrious beavers, and playful river otters.

Activities and attractions in Minnesota

Still trying to figure out what to do while in Minnesota? Here are some of our tips. If you want the kids to burn off some steam, geocaching at Lake Bronson State Park might do the trick. You can rent GPS units at the park’s office. You might also go birdwatching at Great River Bluffs State Park. (Here’s a printable checklist of birds you might spot). For those who like fishing, you could try to catch some pike or walleye at Gull Lake Recreation Area.

As for attractions, the Mississippi River Headwaters at Itasca State Park marks the beginning of America’s great river. Other natural attractions in Minnesota include Historic Split Rock Lighthouse, which offers stunning views; Sacred Pipestone National Monument, where indigenous people quarried red stone for pipes; The 13 miles of underground passages at Mystery Cave; Historic Jeffers Petroglyphs and its ~5,000 sacred rock carvings that date back up to 7,000 years.

History buffs and those interested in Minnesota’s culture have many options. Take a step back in time at Fort Snelling, which sits on the historic bluffs of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers. Learn about the history and lives of the Ojibwe people at the Mille Lacs Indian Museum, located in Onamia, Or, head into Minneapolis and take in the contemporary art on display at the Walker Art Center and Sculpture Garden.

Minnesota camping resources

Links to help plan your Minnesota camping trip

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources - State Parks: The state’s official parks website provides information on recreational activities, state parks, and recreational areas. You’ll also find maps and virtual tours.

National Park Service, Minnesota: The NPS’s official site for information on national parks, national/scenic rivers, recreational areas, scenic trails, and national monuments in Minnesota. The site offers general information, calendars, maps, conditions, and alerts.

Explore Minnesota: The official website of Explore Minnesota Tourism. The site introduces activities in the state, ranging from outdoor adventures to cultural attractions and dining options. The site offers planning tools, including travel guides, accommodation listings, and city information. You can also get information on events and festivals in the state.

Minnesota State Parks and Trails Reservations: The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ official booking system provides information about camping and lodging in the state. The site also allows registered users to reserve campsites, lodging, programs, and tours​​​. People use the platform to learn about Minnesota’s national resources. Registered users can book campsites, permits, and other programs through the platform.


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