9 Top-Rated Campgrounds in Minnesota
With the many state parks, national forests, and bountiful wilderness areas in Minnesota, there is no shortage of great spots to pitch a tent. Interwoven with the lakes and waterways of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, and found throughout the swaying prairie grass in the southern portion of the state, the different campgrounds of Minnesota all offer unique amenities and immediate access to outdoor adventure. Whether you are looking for a place to park an RV for a while, or you want to be able to sleep out of sight of your vehicle, a great campground is not far away. Many of the premiere camping spots are within state parks, but the different state and national forests of Minnesota contain an abundance of campgrounds as well, making it easy for anyone to spend multiple nights sleeping under the stars.
1 Woodenfrog Campground, Kabetogama State Forest
Minnesota is home to 58 different state forests, many of which offer campgrounds, like Woodenfrog, that are more affordable than what you'll find in adjacent state parks and often provide less crowded conditions. All state forest campgrounds in Minnesota are considered primitive, containing established camping spots designated by picnic tables and fire rings, with pit toilets and fresh water spigots found throughout. While all state forest campgrounds can save you a little money on your Minnesota vacation, in terms of scenery and access to nearby attractions, they all deliver.
Woodenfrog Campground within the Kabetogama State Forest is a great example of a state forest campground. Containing 61 non-electrical campsites, it not only offers easy access to adventure in the surrounding Kabetogama State Forest, but it sits at the front door of Voyageurs National Park and offers a launching point into a whole new world. Serving as one of the few drive-in campgrounds with access to the water-fed Voyageurs National Park, this primitive campground is available on a first-come, first-served basis, and the sites can fill up quickly. With a night's stay in Woodenfrog, a longer adventure in Voyageurs is easily accomplished with the many paddle-in campsites available throughout the national park. Even if your itinerary doesn't include an overnight visit in Voyageurs, the surrounding Northwoods and Kabetogama State Forest offer plenty of reasons to stay the night.
Address: Co Rd. 122, Ray, Minnesota
2 Lakeview Campground, Father Hennepin State Park
Situated on the shores of Mille Lacs Lake, Father Hennepin State Park is named after a 17th-century priest, who first wrote about the area, and with a single visit, you can see why it was worth writing about. Mille Lacs Lake is one of the largest inland lakes in Minnesota, and the Lakeview campground within Father Hennepin State Park gives overnight users a front row seat to it all. Split between non-electrical and electrical, the 60 campsites at Lakeview all share access to flushing toilets, showers, and water spigots, and more importantly, easy access to Mille Lacs Lake in the form of a fishing pier and places to moor a boat. Tents, pop-up campers, and RVs up to 60 feet long are welcome at Father Hennepin, and if the Lakeview Campground is full when you go to reserve a spot, the Maple Grove Campground hosts another 40 campsites nearby, though not quite as close to the water.
Address: 41296 Father Hennepin Park Rd, Isle, Minnesota
3 Portsmouth Campground, Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area
Serving as one of Minnesota's newest state recreation areas, Cuyuna Country is quickly becoming one of the most popular. This former iron mine encompasses abandoned pits now filled with turquoise-tinted water and 25 miles of some of the best mountain bike trails in Minnesota. The best way to experience it all is by staying at the Portsmouth Campground within its boundaries. Located on the eastern side of the 5,000-acre Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area and near the shores of Portsmouth Mine Lake, the Portsmouth Campground features 18 electric sites, 15 non-electric sites, and four walk-in sites located near the parking lot. All campsite occupants at Cuyuna Country share fresh water facilities, and more notably, quick access to all the recreational opportunities within Cuyuna Country, including more than 20 natural and manmade lakes, an abundance of mountain bike singletrack trails, and generous views that stretch beyond the horizon.
Address: 307 3rd St, Ironton, Minnesota
4 Editor's Choice Afton State Park Backpack Sites
Located less than a half hour east of Saint Paul, Afton State Park is a popular prairie-filled park that attracts campers from the Twin Cities and beyond. What makes the campgrounds at Afton unique within the Minnesota state park system is that they are only available for those willing to backpack their gear to the sites. The 27 backpack sites at Afton State Park are located less than a mile from the parking lot, and all include a picnic table, fire ring, and plenty of space to pitch a tent or two, as well as shared access to a communal pit toilet and water spigot. The backpack sites at Afton vary from shaded to exposed, and all offer views and access to the surrounding wooded and prairie environments, including the extensive trail system that winds its way through the park. No campsite is a direct neighbor to another, offering more privacy than your average campground, but it's not uncommon to hear the crackle of a nearby campfire throughout the night, reminding you that you're not completely alone in the woods.
Address: 6959 Peller Ave S, Hastings, Minnesota
5 Fall Lake Campground, Superior National Forest
There is no shortage of campsites within the Superior National Forest of northern Minnesota. Throughout this rugged and wild part of the country, overnight visitors have a wide variety of camping options, from boat-access-only backcountry sites to RV-accommodating campgrounds with modern amenities. Falls Lake Campground, located just east of Ely, is a great example of a contemporary campground within the Superior National Forest and includes clean water and flushing toilets among many other things within its boundaries. All 64 campsites provide picnic tables, tent pads, and fire rings, but what really makes Falls Lake Campground so great is its immediate access to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. With just a single paddle stroke, campers at Falls Lake Campground can find themselves in the Boundary Waters, where permits are required and which provides nearly endless possibilities when it comes to places to stay the night.
Address: Fall Lake Rd, Ely, Minnesota
6 Cedar Hill Campground, Whitewater State Park
There are many factors that make Whitewater State Park one of the best state parks in Minnesota, and between the bluff-lined hiking trails and churning waters of the Whitewater River, what really ties everything together are its spacious and scenic campsites. More than 100 campsites are available, and the most abundant and most popular sites fall within the Cedar Hill Campground, which abuts the Whitewater River and provides opportunities like tubing, wading, and fishing.
Two communal sanitation buildings are located within Cedar Hill Campground, and another can be found in the neighboring Gooseberry Glen Campground. All three provide toilets, showers, and clean water throughout the camping season. Every campsite at Whitewater State Park provides a picnic table and fire ring, and they vary from pull-in to pull-through, with a few requiring a short walk from a parked car. For those looking for more solitude, on the other side of the river from the Cedar Hill and Gooseberry Glen Campgrounds, Whitewater State Park also offers six walk-in sites averaging 500 yards from the parking area, allowing for a little more space and just as many views.
Address: 19041 MN-74, Altura, Minnesota
7 Stony Point Campground, Chippewa National Forest
Easily accessed from the city of Walker, the Stony Point Campground places visitors onto the shores of Leech Lake and serves as a great launching point into the surrounding Chippewa National Forest. The campground features 44 reservable sites all sharing access to the lake, as well as flush toilets, shower stations, and clean drinking water spigots. RVs are welcome at Stony Point, and campers are encouraged to use the developed boat access and two harbors, as well the swimming beach and picnic area. Popular activities for overnight visitors at Stony Point include angling and putting a boat out on the water, and with hiking and biking trails like the North Country Trail and Paul Bunyan State Trail surrounding the area, there are many good reasons to spend more than one night at Stony Point Campground.
Address: 5510 US-2, Cass Lake, Minnesota
8 Split Rock State Park Cart-In Campgrounds
Stretching from Duluth to the US/Canadian border, the North Shore of Lake Superior provides endless adventure, ranging from cross-country hiking to sailing the frigid waters. On top of the many things to do, great campsites stretch all along this recreation destination, waiting for you to spend the night. Nearly halfway up the shore, Split Rock Lighthouse State Park offers a great example of these North Shore overnight accommodations, and with just a little bit of effort, campers at this lakeside destination are afforded some of the best views found in the state.
Located 2,000 feet from the parking lot, Split Rock offers 20 cart-in campsites, which all feature a picnic table and fire ring and include the cart to haul in your gear. A strong recommendation when staying the night at Split Rock Lighthouse State Park is to reserve one of the campsites on the lakeside portion of the campground loop. These all offer personal views of the rugged shoreline and Split Rock Lighthouse in the distance. Flush toilets, showers, and clean water are available to all campers at Split Rock, but the real draw for the cart-in campgrounds of this North Shore state park is the immediate access to the stunning surroundings.
Address: 3755 Split Rock Lighthouse Road, Two Harbors, Minnesota
9 Wild River State Park Campground
Situated along 18 miles of the St. Croix River, Wild River State Park is one of the larger state parks in Minnesota. Amid the many hiking, horseback, and canoeing opportunities, it also has an abundance of worthwhile camping spots. While Wild River does have a wide variety of backcountry camping sites only accessible by non-motorized transportation, the most popular spots are at the Wild River State Park Campground, with more than 90 sites.
A third of the camping sites within the Wild River State Park Campground provide electricity, and all include a picnic table, fire ring, and plenty of space to pitch a tent or park an RV. Despite the high number of spaces available, advanced reservations are strongly encouraged at Wild River State Park, especially on the weekends. But with 6,000 acres to explore and wild waters to paddle, you'll find many great reasons to stay more than one night.
Address: 39797 Park Trail, Center City, Minnesota
More Outdoor Things to Do in Minnesota
For information on more fun outdoor adventures in Minnesota, check out our Top-Rated Hiking Trails and Best Mountain Bike Trails in Minnesota articles. Many of the top trails and campgrounds reside in the state's extensive park system. See our page on the Best State & National Parks in Minnesota for more details. To find a great base for your activities and a little touch of civilization during your stay, our write-ups on cities like Minneapolis and Rochester offer ideas on other fun things to do.