Camping in Northern Minnesota

Camping in Northern Minnesota
Northern Minnesota--with its prairies, extensive conifer forests, great concentration of wetlands and the rocky Lake Superior shore--is a near-mythical camping destination. While there are plenty of amenity-filled, developed campgrounds, many opt for the extreme wilderness forays this wild stretch of the United States still offers.

Voyageurs National Park

Consider wild Voyageurs National Park on Minnesota's Canadian Shield for a night out in the woods. This land of water, ancient rock and thick forest is a good place to hear two of the state's iconic sounds, the peal of loons and the howls of gray wolves. Over 200 campsites are available in Voyageurs, most on a first-come, first-served basis. All of them are accessible only by water (adjacent state forests have car-accessible sites). Two group campsites can be reserved for a fee. Like most of northern Minnesota, Voyageurs is black bear country; campers should take standard precautions.

Voyageurs National Park
3131 Highway 53 South
International Falls, MN 56649-8904
(218) 283-6600

National Forests

Northern Minnesota hosts the state's two national forests, the Chippewa and Superior. The 3.9-million-acre Superior National Forest (fourth-largest in the country) lies in Minnesota's northeastern horn, abutting Voyageurs National Park and including the famous Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The 666,542-acre Chippewa lies to the west, merging prairie with northern hardwood and boreal forest. Both forests contain many developed campgrounds. They also offer the opportunity for primitive, dispersed camping.

Chippewa National Forest
200 Ash Avenue NW
Cass Lake, MN 56633
(218) 335-8600
r9_chippewa_public@fs.fed.us

Superior National Forest
8901 Grand Avenue Place, Duluth, MN 55808
(218) 626-4300
r9_superior_NF@fs.fed.us

State Forests

The majority of Minnesota's state forests lie in its northern sector. The following offer developed camping: Northwest Angle, Beltrami Island, Kabetogama, Mississippi Headwaters, Two Inlets, Paul Bunyan, Huntersville, Pillsbury, General Andrews, Nemadji, St. Croix, Crow Wing, Savanna, George Washington, Land O'Lakes, Birch Lakes, Sand Dunes, Chengwatana, Finland, Cloquet Valley, Pat Bayle and Grand Portage.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
500 Lafayette Road
St. Paul, MN 55155-4040
(651) 296-6157
info@dnr.state.mn.us

Northern Minnesota

Northern Minnesota also has no shortage of state parks, many of which offer developed camping. For example, Big Bog State Recreation Area near Waskish features the largest peat bog in the lower 48 states (500 square miles); it can be explored from its 31-site campground.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
500 Lafayette Road
St. Paul, MN 55155-4040
(651) 296-6157
info@dnr.state.mn.us

Other Options

In addition to the above public lands, campers can investigate county parks, wildlife management areas, commercial campgrounds and RV parks. Good bets for more information are local chambers of commerce and county offices.

Article Written By Ethan Schowalter-Hay

Ethan Schowalter-Hay is a writer and naturalist living in Oregon. He has written for the "Observer," the Bureau of Land Management and various online publishers. He holds a Bachelor of Science in wildlife ecology and a graduate certificate in geographic information systems from the University of Wisconsin.

Keep Me Informed

Weekly newsletters, announcements and offers from Trails.com to your inbox.

Sign me up!

We HATE spam and promise to keep your email addresses safe and secure.