Camping in Minnesota

      Your guide to the best Minnesotan camping adventures.

      Your Go-To Minnesota Camping Guide

      Calling all nature lovers! Minnesota is beckoning you to unplug and unwind in its vast wilderness. It doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned camper seeking remote adventures in the Boundary Waters or a family looking for a fun-filled getaway at a full-service campground, Minnesota caters to all styles.

      Hike through scenic trails, fish for walleye on a crystal-clear lake, or simply relax under a star-filled sky. So ditch the screens, embrace the fresh air, and experience the magic of camping in Minnesota!

      Best Places To Camp In Minnesota

      Afton State Park

      Located just a 30-minute drive from the Twin Cities metro area, Afton State Park provides a convenient escape into nature. The park boasts diverse landscapes, including rolling prairies, hardwood forests, and the scenic St. Croix River. Campers can choose from campsites with various amenities, including electricity, showers, and flush toilets. Afton State Park offers various activities for all ages, like hiking, biking, canoeing, and horseback riding.

      Afton State Park Minnesota

      Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

      Encompassing over a million acres of pristine wilderness, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is a haven for experienced paddlers and backpackers. This vast network of lakes, rivers, and islands offers unparalleled opportunities for exploration and solitude.

      Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Minnesota

      Jay Cooke State Park

      Nestled along the St. Louis River, Jay Cooke State Park features dramatic sandstone cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and old-growth forests. Campers can choose from campgrounds with basic amenities or opt for more rustic campsites deeper within the park. Jay Cooke State Park offers a variety of activities, including hiking, biking, rock climbing, and cross-country skiing in the winter.

      Jay Cooke State Park Minnesota

      Tettegouche State Park

      Situated on the shores of majestic Lake Superior, Tettegouche State Park is known for its breathtaking natural beauty. The park features towering cliffs, secluded coves, cascading waterfalls, and diverse plant life. Campers at Tettegouche can enjoy stunning views of the lake, explore hidden beaches, hike through scenic trails, and go kayaking or canoeing on the water.

      Tettegouche State Park Minnesota

      Voyageurs National Park

      Bordering Canada, Voyageurs National Park encompasses over 218,000 acres of stunning lakes, forests, and rocky islands. This unique park is best explored by boat, offering visitors a chance to experience the tranquility of the wilderness and encounter diverse wildlife populations. Voyageurs National Park provides various camping options, including campsites accessible by boat and houseboat opportunities.

      Voyageurs National Park Minnesota

      Things To Do In Minnesota

      Mall of America

      Located in Bloomington, just outside of Minneapolis, the Mall of America is the largest shopping mall in the United States by total square footage. It boasts over 500 stores, including major department stores, specialty shops, and brand-name outlets. The mall also features a variety of entertainment options, such as Nickelodeon Universe, an indoor amusement park; SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium; and a movie theater.

      Minnesota's North Shore Scenic Drive

      Stretching roughly 150 miles along the shores of Lake Superior from Duluth to Grand Portage, the North Shore Scenic Drive is a breathtaking journey through stunning natural beauty. Visitors can marvel at dramatic cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and pristine beaches. The drive also winds its way through charming towns and villages, offering opportunities to explore local culture and history. Additionally, numerous state parks and recreation areas provide access to hiking trails, camping opportunities, and various outdoor activities.

      Minneapolis Institute of Art

      Situated in Minneapolis, the Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA) houses a world-renowned collection of over 89,000 works of art spanning various cultures and time periods. Visitors can explore galleries featuring European, American, African, Asian, and Islamic art, including paintings, sculptures, textiles, and decorative objects. The museum also hosts a variety of special exhibitions throughout the year, offering opportunities to delve deeper into specific themes and artistic movements.

      Voyageurs National Park

      Located in northern Minnesota along the Canadian border, Voyageurs National Park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. This vast wilderness area, comprising numerous lakes, forests, and islands, is best explored by water. Visitors can embark on kayaking or canoeing trips through the interconnected waterways, encountering diverse wildlife and experiencing the tranquility of the park's remote beauty.

      The Twin Cities (Minneapolis and St. Paul)

      Minnesota's vibrant capital city, St. Paul, and its larger neighbor, Minneapolis, collectively known as the Twin Cities, offer a dynamic mix of urban experiences. St. Paul boasts a historic downtown with a beautiful state capitol building, while Minneapolis is known for its thriving arts and culture scene, including renowned theaters, museums, and live music venues. Both cities offer a variety of restaurants, shops, and nightlife options, ensuring something for every visitor's taste and interest.

      Itasca State Park

      Located at the headwaters of the Mississippi River in north-central Minnesota, Itasca State Park is a popular destination for nature enthusiasts and history buffs. Visitors can explore the park's diverse landscapes, including forests, lakes, and wetlands, by hiking, biking, or paddling on the Mississippi's headwaters.

      Split Rock Lighthouse State Park

      Situated on the North Shore of Lake Superior, Split Rock Lighthouse State Park offers stunning views of the lake and the iconic Split Rock Lighthouse, a historic landmark built in 1910. Visitors can tour the lighthouse, learn about its history, and explore the surrounding park area, which includes hiking trails, picnic areas, and a swimming beach.

      Como Park Zoo and Conservatory

      Located in St. Paul, Como Park Zoo and Conservatory is a popular destination for families and nature lovers. The zoo features a wide variety of animals from around the world, while the conservatory houses a diverse collection of plants, including tropical and desert species. Visitors can also enjoy other attractions at Como Park, such as a carousel, a miniature golf course, and a Japanese garden.

      Mille Lacs Lake

      Located in central Minnesota, Mille Lacs Lake is the state's second-largest lake and a popular destination for fishing, boating, and other water-based activities. The lake is known for its walleye fishing, attracting anglers from all over the country. Additionally, the surrounding area offers opportunities for camping, hiking, and exploring historic sites.

      Saint Anthony Falls

       Located in Minneapolis, Saint Anthony Falls is the only major waterfall on the Mississippi River, offering a unique natural wonder within the city limits. Visitors can explore the area by walking across the Stone Arch Bridge, visiting the Mill City Museum to learn about the history of flour milling, or taking a boat tour for a closer view of the falls.

      Grand Portage National Monument

      Situated on the North Shore of Lake Superior near the Canadian border, the Grand Portage National Monument commemorates the history of the Grand Portage fur trade route, which was vital for the economic development of the region during the 18th and early 19th centuries. Visitors can explore reconstructed buildings and exhibits at the historic Grand Portage Rendezvous, participate in cultural programs, and learn about the Ojibwe people who played a significant role in the fur trade.

      Olmsted County History Center

      Located in Rochester, the Olmsted County History Center delves into the rich history of the region, encompassing various aspects from early settlements to the development of the Mayo Clinic, one of the world's leading medical institutions. Visitors can explore permanent and temporary exhibits, participate in educational programs, and gain a deeper understanding of the area's past.

      Featured Minnesota Parks

      Inspiration From Our Nearby States

      Book an RV in Minnesota

      Explore the Land of 10,000 Lakes in style and comfort with your very own RV rental. From the vibrant Twin Cities to the breathtaking Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Minnesota offers something for everyone. Hike through pristine forests, fish for walleye on sparkling lakes, or simply relax by a crackling campfire under the starry sky. Book your RV today and turn your Minnesota adventure into unforgettable memories!

      Frequently Asked Questions

      Minnesota offers a diverse range of camping options to suit various styles and preferences. You can choose from:

      • Tent camping: This classic camping experience allows you to connect with nature and enjoy the simplicity of the outdoors. Tent camping is available in most state parks, national forests, and private campgrounds.
      • RV camping: If you prefer the comfort and convenience of your own "home away from home," RV camping is a great option. Many campgrounds offer RV sites with electric hookups, water access, and even amenities like dump stations and laundry facilities. *
      • Cabin rentals: For those seeking a bit more comfort but still wanting an outdoor experience, cabins are a perfect choice. Cabins come in various styles and sizes, ranging from rustic to modern, offering beds, furniture, and sometimes even kitchens and bathrooms.
      • Dispersed camping: For the adventurous and experienced campers, dispersed camping allows you to set up your tent outside of designated campgrounds in specific areas within national forests. This option offers a true feeling of solitude and immersion in nature but requires proper planning and responsible wilderness camping practices.

      The "best" time to camp in Minnesota depends on your personal preferences and tolerance for various weather conditions. Here's a breakdown:

      • Spring (May-June): Spring offers pleasant temperatures with blooming wildflowers and fewer crowds compared to summer. However, be prepared for occasional rain showers and potentially muddy ground.
      • Summer (July-August): Summer boasts warm weather, ideal for swimming and enjoying outdoor activities. However, expect larger crowds and potentially hot and humid conditions.
      • Fall (September-October): Fall presents vibrant foliage, crisp air, and comfortable temperatures. Crowds start to dwindle, making it a peaceful time to explore nature. However, be aware of changing weather conditions and the possibility of early frost. *
      • Winter (November-April): While camping may not be for everyone during the winter months, some seasoned campers embrace the challenge. You can try winter camping in designated areas within state parks and national forests, but be sure to have the appropriate skills and equipment for sub-zero temperatures and winter weather conditions.

      Yes, you need a permit to camp in any designated campsite within Minnesota's state parks and recreation areas. You can typically obtain permits online or at park headquarters. The permit fees vary based on the location, campsite type, and length of stay.

      For camping within national forests, specific regulations might apply depending on the area. Some areas may require permits for specific activities like dispersed camping, while others may not. It's crucial to research and adhere to the individual regulations of the national forest you plan to visit.

      Camping costs in Minnesota can vary based on several factors:

      • Location: Campgrounds in popular areas and those closer to major cities tend to be more expensive than those in remote locations.
      • Amenities: Campsites with additional amenities like electric hookups, showers, and water access typically cost more than basic campsites.
      • Type of camping: Cabin rentals and RV sites are generally more expensive than tent campsites.
      • Length of stay: Many campgrounds offer nightly rates, but some offer discounts for longer stays.

      With all these factors in mind, expect to pay anywhere from $15-$50 per night for a basic campsite in Minnesota. It's always best to check the specific campground website or contact them directly for the most accurate pricing information.

      Minnesota is a fantastic destination for camping, offering something for everyone. From the breathtaking landscapes of Lake Superior and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area to rolling hills and peaceful forests, the state boasts diverse ecosystems and stunning scenery. Whether you're an experienced outdoors enthusiast or a beginner seeking a family-friendly adventure, Minnesota caters to various preferences.

      The state is rich in waterways, making it ideal for activities like canoeing, kayaking, and fishing. Additionally, numerous hiking and biking trails offer exploration opportunities.

      While free camping opportunities are limited in Minnesota, there are a few options. Some National Forests allow dispersed camping, where you can set up your tent outside designated campgrounds. This requires careful research, obtaining any necessary permits, and following strict "Leave No Trace" principles to minimize environmental impact.

      Similarly, "boondocking" involves parking your RV on public land (where allowed) for a short period. However, regulations and permitted locations vary, so research extensively before attempting this option.

      No, camping is not legal just anywhere in Minnesota. Here's what you need to know:

      • State parks and recreation areas: Camping requires permits obtained through the Minnesota DNR website or at park headquarters.
      • National forests: Regulations vary by forest. Some areas allow dispersed camping with permits, while others may not. Always research and adhere to the specific regulations of the national forest you plan to visit.
      • Private land: Camping on private land is only permitted with the express permission of the landowner.

      The cost of camping at Minnesota state parks varies depending on several factors, including location, amenities offered at the campsite, and the season. Popular areas tend to be slightly more expensive than remote locations, and campsites with amenities like electricity and showers typically cost more than basic campsites.

      You can expect to pay anywhere from $15 to $50 per night for a basic campsite in a Minnesota state park. To find specific fee information for each park, visit the Minnesota DNR website.

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