Lake Itasca is clearly one of the oldest, largest and most well-known state parks in Minnesota, so it’s difficult to be too critical of this Minnesota institution. The trails at Itasca are arguably some of the best in the state and, due to the large area of the park, it is easy to feel like you are completely alone in the woods (which is hard to accomplish at many state parks these days). However, I have never experienced insects as bad as they were while we backpacked at Itasca in late June of 2007. I understand that mosquitoes, flies and ticks are much worse statewide this summer than they have been in recent history, but the magnitude of the problem was unreal. For instance, in the days following our weekend at Itasca, I removed over 60 ticks off of our dog (who has FrontLine tick protection) and my wife and I probably removed nearly 25 from each other that weekend as well. I’ve been in northern Minnesota enough to know that insects are a part of the experience, but I’ve never seen anything like I did during our recent trip to Itasca. My recommendation would be to wait until this current insect anomaly has passed and then make a trip up to visit Itasca. It’s one of the greatest places in Minnesota, but it’s not worth it if you’re removing ticks the entire time.