The 15 Best Camping Spots in Minnesota!

Whether you hike, paddle, or drive to your spot, Minnesota is an incredible camping destination. Thousands of lakes, gorgeous rivers, deep wilderness areas, and well-managed park systems put the North Star State among the top places to spend a night under the stars. Here are our favorite spots.  

1. Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

With more than a million protected acres in the northern third of the Superior National Forest, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) offers, perhaps, the most authentic backwoods experience in Minnesota. Inaccessible by car, campers must either hike or, more commonly, paddle to campsites. With no amenities in the wilderness, a BWCAW trip is for able-bodied, experienced campers. Permits are required, and between May and October, available only by quota system from the forest service.

2. Lake Maria State Park, Monticello, MN

Though it’s less than an hour from the Twin Cities, Lake Maria State Park feels like it’s in another world. Although you can drive into the park, campsites are only accessible on foot or by horseback. All sites are at least a mile from the parking area, but amenities, such as water, are available inside the park. Dotted by ponds, wetlands and stretching along its namesake lake, the park is a well-preserved example of the deciduous, hardwood forests that once covered southern Minnesota. Look for salamanders and Blandings turtles. Listen to coyotes howl as you count the stars in the firmament. 

3. Split Rock Lighthouse State Park, Beaver Bay, MN

Though it’s named for the frequently-visited Lake Superior lighthouse that lies within the park (and is managed by the Minnesota Historical Society), the camping area is hike-in only. So, despite it’s accessibility (paved paths and carts to help you haul your gear), you can still escape the crowds and enjoy the forested, craggy shore of Lake Superior. One of the things that makes Split Rock so special is its proximity to some of North Shore’s best short hikes. Day Hill and the Split Rock Loop to the Superior Hiking Trail will both reward your efforts with stunning vistas. 

4. Interstate State Park, Taylor’s Falls, MN

Interstate is a park that straddles the St. Croix River, and thanks to cooperation from Wisconsin, is a park on both sides. The Minnesota park offers a drive in campground with several sites directly overlooking the river where it shoots through basalt gorges known as “dalles.” Less than an hour northeast of the Twin Cities, the park offers some of the best canoeing and rock climbing in the region. Anglers will not be disappointed, either.  

5. Tettegouche State Park, Silver Bay, MN

Among the wildest state parks on the North Shore, Tettegouche combines rugged Lake Superior scenery with backcountry hiking opportunities, a gorgeous inland lake (Lax), and one of the state’s tallest waterfalls (on the Baptism River). While hiking abounds, including part of the Superior Hiking Trail, you needn’t do so to get to your campsite. Most of the park’s sites are easily accessible from nearby parking lots, yet secluded enough to feel like an authentic backwoods experience.

6. Devil’s Kettle Trail, Judge C.R. Magney State Park, Grand Marais, MN

Carved out of the Superior National Forest between Grand Marais and Hovland on Hwy. 61, Judge C.R. Magney State Park stretches inland from Lake Superior, along the swift and tumbling Brule River. The campground is car accessible, but the sites are heavily wooded and well spaced. One of the park’s highlights is the Devil’s Kettle: A double waterfall in which one cascade continues downriver, while the other disappears mysteriously into a cauldron in the riverbed.

7. Voyageurs National Park

Minnesota’s only full-fledged national park, Voyageurs is nestled against the Canadian border and defined water: The same water that voyageurs—the first Europeans in the area—plied at the height of the fur trade. In fact, most of the park's 200 campsites can only be reached by water. Otters, wolves, moose, martens, and black bears make the park their home. You can obtain free camping and paddling permits from the National Park Service.

8. Scenic State Park, Bigfork, MN

When you see the crystalline lakes and stands of virgin white pine forest, you’ll understand why the only possible name for this park is Scenic. Located near Grand Rapids, Scenic State Park offers up all the beauty you’d hope from Minnesota’s Northwoods and combines it with fishing, hiking, and boating. In addition to well-spaced car-accessible sites, the park offers a handful of hike-in and boat-in campsites, as well.

9. George H. Crosby Manitou State Park, Finland, MN

A finger of Crosby Manitou State Park touches the North Shore of Lake Superior, and then follows the course of the Manitou River up and over the Sawbill Mountains, where the park spreads across thousands of Northwoods acres. One of the least used parks in the system, Crosby Manitou is where you want to go to get away from it all. The only campsites in the park are 21 backpack sites on Benson Lake and along the Manitou River. The hike to some of the sites can be challenging, with considerable changes in elevation. Few amenities are available in this park.

10. Glendalough State Park, Battle Lake, MN

A former game farm and retreat, Glendalough State Park is now home to one of the last undeveloped lakes in Western Minnesota. To preserve the park’s pristine nature, Annie Battle Lake has been designated a “Heritage Fishery.” No motors or fishing electronics are permitted on the lake. Moreover, all of the campsites on the lake are either cart-in or canoe-in so campers can avoid all the bustle and noise associated with motorboat so and car camping.

11. Blue Mounds State Park, Luverne, MN

In beautifully stark contrast to the watery Northwoods parks, Blue Mounds State Park protects one of the largest remaining swaths of prairie in Minnesota, along with shimmering hundred-foot, Sioux quartzite cliffs and rolling seas of tallgrass where a herd of buffalo still roam. Most of the campsites here are drive-in, but folks looking for a little separation can hike a few hundred feet to a dozen-or-so tent-only sites.

12. Beaver Creek Valley State Park, Caledonia, MN

Carved out of a piece of the Upper Midwest’s “Driftless Area,” a term describing the part of the U.S. that avoided glacial coverage during the last Ice Age. One of the smaller parks In the system, Beaver Creek Valley is set in a beautiful, hardwood-forested gorge lined by sandstone cliffs and capped with prairie remnants. Many of the wooded campsites are drive-in, but wooded, but those willing to hike a couple hundred yards can find even more seclusion at one of a handful of walk-in sites.

13. Wild River State Park, Taylor’s Falls, MN

Another gem within an hour of the Twin Cities, Wild River State Park showcases the rugged beauty of the St. Croix River before it gets anywhere near civilization. Overlooking the river from oak savannas and prairies, the park follows 18 miles of the streams course down to the hardwood forests than line its banks. Despite its proximity to the metro area, the park regularly hosts black bears and other wildlife species. Wild River offers a variety of camping opportunities from drive-in or horseback-only to hike in.

14. Bear Head Lake State Park, Ely, MN

A stone’s throw from the Boundary Waters, Bear Head Lake State Park offers car campers a taste of what paddlers flock to the BWCAW to get: Pristine, Northwoods lakes and stunning rock formations. Home to the state’s megafauna, including moose, black bears, and wolves, Bear Head offers a true wilderness experience with modern camping amenities. A handful of hike-in sites are also available if you want dodge the RV crowd.

15. Afton State Park, Afton, MN

Afton is another park close to the Twin Cities, only half an hour from St. Paul, but nowhere near civilization. Stretching from St. Croix River beaches to bluff-top prairies, the park boasts miles of forested ravines and tall-grass savannas that afford spectacular views across and down the river. Campsites are either hike-in or boat-in, which adds to the feeling of seclusion and quietude. 

Minnesota Search
Best Campgrounds and Camping Sites Near You
Best Campgrounds and Camping Sites Near You
21071 County 118, Preston, MN
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550 Bunker Lake Blvd NW, Andover, MN
The 1,600-acre Bunker Hills Regional Park offers a wide spectrum of recreation opportunities. Popular things to visit in the park include Bunk... Read More
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Grand oaks and delicate prairie flowers grace the rugged, rolling landscape of this park. Trails traverse remnant and restored prairies, wind ... Read More
1515 Keats Ave. N., Lake Elmo, MN
Lake Elmo Park Reserve is 2,165 acres (3.5 square miles) with 80 percent of its acreage set aside for preservation and protection. This portion wil... Read More
18106 Texas Avenue, Prior Lake, MN
Cleary Lake Regional Park is one of the most popular year-round recreation spots in the south metro. With amenities including a golf course, campgr... Read More
36750 Main Park Drive, Park Rapids, MN
Established in 1891, Itasca is Minnesota's oldest state park. Today, the park totals more than 32,000 acres and includes more than 100 lakes. Walk ... Read More
11411 Clementa Avenue Northwest, Monticello, MN
Visitors who come to Lake Maria State Park will enjoyone of the few remaining stands of the "Big Woods," a maple, oak and basswood forest that once... Read More
19499 780th Avenue, Albert Lea, MN
This park has something for everyone. The trails take visitors around wet lowlands, oak savanna, and grasslands. Albert Lea Lake and park mars... Read More
19041 Hwy 74, Altura, MN
Beauty and quiet, that is the essence of Carley State Park. In the spring, delicate bluebells (Mertensia virginica), and other wildflowers car... Read More
33489 240th Avenue Northwest, Argyle, MN
A log cabin and a steam-powered flour mill at Old Mill State Park are bold landmarks from the past. The grist mill still gets fired up once a ... Read More
25287 Whitetail Lane, Battle Lake, MN
Nestled in the transition zone between prairie and hardwood forest, Glendalough offers a true respite from civilization. Crystal clear Annie Battle... Read More
3401 State Park Road Northeast, Bemidji, MN
This park is the perfect playground any time of year,offering visitors swimming, boating, fishing, birdwatching, hiking, camping, biking, picnickin... Read More
56956 Scenic Highway 7, Bigfork, MN
Scenic State Park With its pristine lakes, virgin pines, swimming beach, and wilderness-like setting, Scenic State Park is well deserving of its na... Read More
3124 State Park Road, Brainerd, MN
Explore prairie, pine, and hardwood forests. View the Mississippi River from historic and picturesque "Chippewa Lookout." Novice canoeists can padd... Read More
15954 County 1, Caledonia, MN
Nestled in the blufflands of southeastern Minnesota,Beaver Creek Valley State Park is known for its clear streams fed by the "Big Spring." Its stre... Read More
2601 County Road 38 Northeast, Carlos, MN
Sculpted by ancient glaciers, Lake Carlos State Parkcontains a tamarack bog, marshes, woodland ponds, and lakes. A variety of recreational activit... Read More
780 Highway 210, Carlton, MN
Trailblazers: this park is a must! Park trails link up to the Willard Munger State Trail at the north edge of the park; perfect for backpacker... Read More
39797 Park Trail, Center City, MN
Wild River State Park is located along 18 miles of the beautiful St. Croix River. The park attracts people who enjoy camping, hiking, horseback rid... Read More
163 State Park Road, Currie, MN
The word "Shetek" is Ojibwe for "pelican," a bird which visits Lake Shetek during the summer and fall. The park contains the largest lake in s... Read More
515 2nd Street Northwest, East Grand Forks, MN
The creation of the Red River State Recreation Area was a grass roots effort that came about as a result of the flood of 1997 that devastated the c... Read More
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