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10 Minnesota State Parks for Your Next RV Camping Trip

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A woman leans against her RV to enjoy a morning cup of coffee while basking in the forest scenery / Andrey Armyagov - stock.adobe.com

10 Minnesota State Parks for Your Next RV Camping Trip

By Amy Rea

No matter what your outdoor goals are—fishing, hiking, swimming, skiing, hunting or just nature-based R&R—there’s a Minnesota State Park for you and your RV.

Traveling by RV continues to grow in popularity as more people discover the freedom and ease of taking their home on the road. RVs can access many remote areas, opening doors to far-flung adventures, all without the hassle of constantly packing and unpacking. People can travel at their own pace and carry everything they need with them, and still enjoy the best Mother Nature has to offer.

Here are 10 great examples of Minnesota State Parks that offer pull-through RV spaces and dump stations, including a few that offer free WiFi if you want to work remotely while traveling.

  1. Glacial Lakes State Park
    Hiking trail at Glacial Lakes State Park in the Fall

    Fall colors on the High Peak Trail at Glacial Lakes State Park / Tony Webster, shared under CC BY-SA 2.0

    Glacial Lakes State Park

    This park in west-central Minnesota is located at the scenic and fascinating point where the prairie meets the forest. Glacial Lakes State Park contains a rare slice of native prairieland that, in season, is home to a host of wildflowers and grasses. The prairie is adjacent to large hardwood forests that characterize much of northern Minnesota.

    The park is home to spring-fed Signalness Lake, open for swimming and boating (electric motors only), with canoe rentals available. A fishing pier on the lake may result in catching sunfish, crappies, bass, pike, perch and walleye. In the summer, there are hiking and horse-riding trails, as well as paved bike trails; in winter, there are ungroomed cross-country ski, snowmobile and snowshoe trails. Wildlife sightings might include deer, beaver, pileated woodpeckers and coyotes.

    RV Length Limit: 45 feet
    Pull-Through Sites: One

  2. Gooseberry Falls State Park
    The middle falls at Gooseberry Falls State Park

    Get an up-close view of the middle falls at Gooseberry Falls State Park / Justin Pruden

    Gooseberry Falls State Park

    Located on the North Shore within easy travel to Duluth and seven other North Shore state parks, this park is home to the Gooseberry River, five waterfalls and some of the finest Lake Superior coastline around. Hiking and paved bike trails run through Gooseberry Falls State Park, which is also connected to the Superior Hiking Trail. In winter, there are groomed cross-country ski trails, and there’s also a mile of skate skiing. Snowmobilers and snowshoers are welcome as well.

    The park’s visitor center and gift shop are open year-round, and there’s a restaurant 2 miles away that’s open all year. After active days in the park, bring a picnic dinner at the shelter overlooking Lake Superior before returning to your RV site for some s’mores time.

    RV Length Limit: 60 feet
    Pull-Through Sites: Three

  3. Itasca State Park
    Itasca State Park Mississippi Head Waters

    Walk across the Mississippi River in Itasca State Park

    Itasca State Park

    Best known for the Mississippi River Headwaters, there are countless reasons to plan an RV trip to Itasca State Park. For starters, it’s the oldest state park in Minnesota and one of the largest. There are also extensive hiking trails, paved bike trails, historic sites, boat tours of Lake Itasca, naturalist bus tours (reservation required), a variety of recreational rentals, swimming beach and boat access to four lakes.

    Itasca is home to a sizable wilderness sanctuary and some of Minnesota’s remaining old-growth pine forests. And if your trip is part work and part play, take advantage of Itasca's free WiFi to work remotely from your RV. 

    RV Length Limit: 60 feet
    Pull-Through Sites: One

  4. Lake Bemidji State Park
    Lake Bemidji in the summer

    Get on the water at Lake Bemidji State Park in northwest Minnesota

    Lake Bemidji State Park

    Located just across the water from the city that shares its name, this small but mighty state park is ideal for anyone seeking a side of nature with their Bemidji adventure. In addition to several hiking trails, the park is also connected to the Paul Bunyan State Trail that extends south all the way to Crow Wing State Park near Baxter. A one-mile hike takes visitors onto a boardwalk that travels into a bog, a great place to spot orchids and lady slippers blooming in the spring and early summer.

    Eagle and osprey sightings are frequent, and the birdwatching overall makes it a popular birding spot. There’s a boat ramp and 16-slip marina (first come, first served) as well as a sandy swimming beach. The park also offers free WiFi throughout the campground, so working remotely from your RV is an option for digital nomads. 

    RV Length Limit: 50 feet
    Pull-Through Sites: Five

  5. Lake Bronson State Park
    Lake Bronson State Park observation tower

    View the prairie and aspen-oak forest from Lake Bronson State Park's stone observation tower

    Lake Bronson State Park

    You'll find Lake Bronson State Park in the far northwest corner of the state, an area first used by Native Americans, then pioneers. The park itself was a Works Progress Administration project, which resulted in the construction of a dam and several now-historic buildings including the largest observation/water tower in the entire Minnesota State Parks system. Fishing is a year-round sport here, with walleye, pike, perch, and large- and small-mouthed bass all found in Lake Bronson. Interpretive signage provides information about the prairie and aspen parklands.

    For those using the pull-through sites, their location on the north edge of Lake Bronson is near the boat trailer access. The sites there are enormous and many are shaded, giving privacy and relief from the occasional hot day.   

    RV Length Limit: 50 feet
    Pull-Through Sites: Six

  6. Lake Shetek State Park
    The shoreline of Lake Shetek at Lake Shetek State Park

    Lake Shetek State Park is nestled along the scenic shoreline of its namesake lake / Rex Tollefson

    Lake Shetek State Park

    Shetek is the Ojibwe word for pelican. This will seem crystal clear if you visit Lake Shetek State Park in the fall or summer months, when white pelicans make their annual migration to the area to nest nearby. The park is also home to the largest lake in southwestern Minnesota and the headwaters of the Des Moines River. There are multiple pioneer cabin sites with interpretive signs, including a still-existing cabin and a memorial to 14 pioneers buried here. The park has limited options for hiking and biking, but makes up for it with ample swimming and fishing opportunities.

    Two of the pull-through sites in the Oak Woods Campground are within easy walking distance to the swimming beach as well as a playground and volleyball area. Work is being done to restore parts of the park to its natural prairie state, and it’s home to a wide variety of wildflowers that bloom in the spring. 

    RV Length Limit: 70 feet
    Pull-Through Sites: Four

  7. Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine State Park
    Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine State Park

    Opened in 2017, Minnesota’s newest state park unites the older Soudan Underground Mine with extensive wilderness on Lake Vermilion. Located in the state’s famed Iron Range, Soudan was a highly active iron ore mine early in the 1900s. But as profits dwindled after World War II, the U.S. Steel Corporation donated the mine and surrounding 1,200 acres to Minnesota in 1963 to create the Soudan Underground Mine State Park.

    In 2010, the state purchased an additional 2,848 acres to create the expanded Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine State Park. The addition gives the park both a significant historical site and extensive wilderness to explore. Its history is best illustrated on daily underground mine tours led by professional interpreters (summer only) and surface tours that explain what was done with the ore once it was mined, the equipment used to process it, and the jobs the mines provided. 

    RV Length Limit: 70 feet
    Pull-Through Sites: Three

  8. Maplewood State Park
    Maplewood State Park

    This state park’s terrain is a series of tree-covered hills with eight lakes tucked into adjacent valleys. The pull-through sites are near Grass Lake, offering excellent sunset views to wind down a busy day of fishing, biking or hiking. Besides RV camping, Maplewood State Park also offers horse camping and 20 miles of horse trails. There are also extensive hiking trails, as well as mountain bike, snowmobile, snowshoe, and both groomed and ungroomed cross-country ski trails.

    The park is on a series of hills that can make some of the trails challenging, but provide many scenic overlooks well worth the hike. Extensive maple forests make this an especially attractive park to visit in the fall. Part of the park is undergoing a prairie restoration project, and visitors can take a self-guided 5-mile drive to view its progress.

    RV Length Limit: 50 feet
    Pull-Through Sites: Three

  9. Mille Lacs Kathio State Park
    Mille Lacs Kathio State Park

    For great views of Lake Mille Lacs, head to this scenic state park on its southern shore. Mille Lacs Kathio State Park is full of rolling hills and trails where you can take in the lake, or you can climb the park's 100-foot observation/fire tower for a birds-eye view. Ogechie Lake also has a swimming beach and large, new playground. The Rum River winds its way through the park, inviting you to explore by canoe, kayak or rowboat (all available for rent).

    Designated as a National Historic Landmark, visitors can explore the area’s history of Dakota and French explorers on the Landmark Trail and Trail Through Time. The pull-through sites are located in the Petaga Campground, near the river, two scenic overlooks, and a short walk to the swimming beach. Plenty of shade offers relief on warmer summer days. In winter, visitors can snowshoe and cross-country ski, snowmobile, and sled down a hill that has a warming shelter.

    RV Length Limit: 60 feet
    Pull-Through Sites: Three

  10. Whitewater State Park
    Whitewater State Park

    Perched on river bluffs overlooking the Whitewater River in the far southeastern corner of the state, this park is near the Whitewater Wildlife Management Area, meaning wildlife sightings and birdwatching are especially good here. In fact, the park contains more than 40 percent of Minnesota’s rare plants and animals, including the Louisiana waterthrush. Fishing is good too, especially for brown, brook and rainbow trout.

    Trails range from steep and hilly with extensive staircases to flat with wooden bridges, with something for every hiking level. A swimming beach offers spring-fed water for swimmers. History buffs will enjoy visiting the CCC/WPA structures within the park, and the historic Elba Fire Tower is just 2 miles away. 

    RV Length Limit: 50 feet
    Pull-Through Sites: 13

Amy Rea

Amy Rea is the author of several Minnesota guidebooks and writes about Minnesota food for Heavy Table. She grew up in northern Minnesota and now makes her home in the Twin Cities