Would love to check out the view during the fall. It's a two-mile loop, first passing across a bog on its way to the Old-Timer's Cabin, which a CCC crew built with four giant logs in the winter of 1933-34. What an awesome resource for this park! I’m not as agile as I once was apparently! Love the trails and the history, and the views from the fire tower are awesome! The fire tower is a workout with some amazing views. I’m all about history, and Itasca State Park has a lot of stories to tell. In the only state that borders three Great Lakes, the best places to stay are in state parks. I would love to visit this park. There's the Douglas Lodge's lady's-slipper china and its original guest book, with such comments as a 1924 entry: "For one who sees nothing but cornfields, the pines are a wonderful treat. The park is especially popular in the summer months thanks to its hiking trails, campsites, fire tower, and other wonderful attractions. This article makes me want to pack my bags and visit Minnesota! Housekeeping cabins sleep four and have a toilet but no shower, $103. I look forward to reading more. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Aiton Heights Fire Tower is one of only six decommissioned fire towers still standing in Minnesota (five of which you can climb when open – fire towers are currently closed due to the pandemic). Here is your guide to the best things to do in Minnesota. Ha! The fun park has things like bumper cars, mini golf, and rock climbing. I started using Aunt Fannie’s products this year and absolutely love them. It’s a shame how McMullen was killed. It calls my name! There's an Ojibwe birchbark lodge and a canvas tent with early camping supplies. So sad. For more, see Itasca in winter. If you continue to use this site we will assume that you are happy with it. Designated as Minnesota’s first state park in 1891, Itasca State Park is regarded as the crown jewel of our state parks and the premier highlight of the Lake Country Scenic Byway. Our guide was Kim Coborn, who said passengers on 85 percent of her trips see bald eagles. Itasca State Park trail distances range from 80 feet to 9.4 miles. . What a great state park to visit. hehehe we could smoke a peace pipe there! Established in 1891, Itasca is Minnesota's oldest state park. Pay no attention to the kids scrambling easily from rock to rock. They might have done them all in if it hadn't been for people like 24-year-old Mary Gibbs, who in 1903 became North America's first female park commissioner after the death of her father. . Aiton Heights Fire Tower only allows six people at a time, is a little shaky and becomes very narrow at the top. Some visitors come to Itasca State Park in northern Minnesota just to see the headwaters of the Mississippi River. I’d love to climb that fire tower – looks like you can get some great views and shots up there!! Then check out some other top state parks in the U.S. according to a network of travel bloggers. But they also join the pilgrimage to the source of the Mississippi, which draws people from around the world. A mile from the headwaters, on Wilderness Drive, the park also operates Bert's Cabins, a collection of 12 log housekeeping cabins in a lovely grove of red pines. I love hiking so its great that it has so many trails to choose from but those who have to drive are still able to see some of the sights. Kids love to run across the rocks that mark the start of the Mississippi. Thank you so much. What a great state park! Itasca State Park, Lake Itasca: See 504 reviews, articles, and 367 photos of Itasca State Park, ranked No.1 on Tripadvisor among 11 attractions in Lake Itasca. Thank you…I’m loving this state park challenge also. Thanks. One exception is the cemetery’s founder, William McMullen, who owned a small ranch and resort in Itasca. Someone ought to assert the rights of the state against such threatened destruction as has been attempted.". Bring your pooch to our city dog park. Minimal information is available for the Pioneer Cemetery in Itasca State Park – many times only the date of death recorded on the grave markers is known. There is also Wegmann's Cabins, which is just one of the landmarks of a time gone by. This includes bird species like loons, grebes, cormorants, herons, ducks, owls, hummingbirds, woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches, kinglets, vireos, tanagers, finches, and warblers. Most, it turns out, agree with Joseph Nicollet, who thought that a river begins at the farthest point upstream where the first drop of water flows, rather than with Henry Schoolcraft and Jacob Brower, who thought it was the farthest point upstream where the flow first constitutes a river. It’s also great that there are a range of activities for the whole family to join in too. In the southeast corner of the state, scratch the surface for a glimpse of splendor. In Itasca, there's always room for argument. In 1798, English surveyor David Thompson claimed it was Turtle Lake, near Bemidji. I found it interesting to learn that red pines depend on fires to reproduce. Jun 11, 2020 - Established in 1891, Itasca is Minnesota's oldest state park. Sports rental: By the boat landing, Itasca Sports rents canoes, kayaks, bikes, paddleboats and pontoon boats, and it sells fishing tackle, snacks and basic camping goods. The 1905 Douglas Lodge has suites and rooms with shared baths. Itasca State Park is a beautiful nature area, and the Wilderness Drive around the park is a fantastic thing to do when you’re in the area. In spring, orchids and other wildflowers bloom along trails. * With so much to explore, it’s one of the best MN state parks. Things to Do in the Park Itasca State Park (dnr.state.mn.us) has an accessible fishing pier, playground and swimming beach on Lake Itasca, as well as boat and bike rentals. "It's hard to convince people the river flows north," an Itasca naturalist said. In spring, southeast Missouri is heaven for hikers, paddlers and rockhounds. On the backside of the Itasca State Park map that you can download or obtain from the visitor center, heed that very first visitor tip: The headwaters rocks are slippery, use caution. And before you head out to do some day hiking at Minnesota state parks, check out my favorite hiking products to bring along. You can kick off your shoes and build castles in the sand at our beach area. Records indicate that Rust mistook McMullen’s white scarf for a white-tailed deer and shot and killed his friend. The armed superintendent threatened to shoot her if she put her hand on the levers, but she did anyway, famously declaring, "I will put my hand there, and you will not shoot it off, either.". The Mall of America does offer a lot of variety, I’m definitely enjoying the great outdoors in Minnesota. Not many crowds when we hit below zero degrees in January and February. The new exhibits answer some perennial questions: Who discovered the true source of the Mississippi? ", The famous standoff at the dam site is chronicled, with a letter of support to Gibbs from the aging Jacob Brower: "I sincerely hope the reports in the papers concerning your energetic defense of the beauties of Itasca Park are correct . Located within Itasca State Park, Lake Itasca, MN is a glacial lake of only about 1.8 square miles in area. Itasca State Park was originally formed by glaciers more than 10,000 years ago. Family History: World War II and The Holocaust, Aunt Fannie’s DEET-free mosquito repellent wipes, on the link and purchase any of Aunt Fannie’s products. Under the new park commissioner, logging around Itasca continued for another 14 years. In fact, every view seems to be so beautiful from the Mississippi headwaters to the view atop the fire tower. Mississippi Headwaters; Nature & Parks in Lake Itasca. What a great post! Next time I’m there I must visit Preacher’s Grove and climb the fire tower. Don't like to camp? It was a little disturbing to learn that 800-year-old Native American burial mounds were partially excavated in the late 1800s at Itasca State Park. | Campsite reservations in Itasca are among the hardest to get, after Split Rock, Temperance River and Tettegouche state parks. A line of boulders marks the point at which the river trickles out of the lake and begins its 2,318-mile journey to the Gulf of Mexico, and few schoolchildren from Minnesota or anywhere else can resist picking their way across the boulders so they can shout, "I walked across the Mississippi!". Explore 117 acres of swamp, trout stream, marsh walk, shelter, woods and prairie at Sucker Creek Preserve. Here are just a few of the top historical and archaeological points of interest and things to do at Itasca State Park – ranked as one of the top MN state parks. Directions. A narrated tour on the Chester Charles is a good way to spot wildlife, especially bald eagles. So much to do! This is the best way to see the park and to get from one place to another. And while the actual starting point had some contentious debate back in the day, the 2,552-mile-long Mississippi River begins its journey running out of Lake Itasca. It's a weird concept.". 30 miles south of Bemidji is the East entrance on Hwy 71, and 1/10 mile north on Hwy 200. Itasca State Park, located just 22 miles north of Park Rapids, is 33,000 acres waiting for you to discover. Thanks for sharing. In the Upper Peninsula, a wilderness park rewards those who love snow. The list below includes 27 free or cheap things to do in or near Lake Itasca, Minnesota, including 28 different types of inexpensive activities like Hiking Trails, National & State Parks, Lake and Parks. I’m not a fan of winter so don’t advise it unless you love the cold. If you’d like to join me on my Minnesota State Parks Staycation Challenge (or create one for your state), check out my post for details. All images are taken by kmf and available for digital download. It’s only about 20 feet wide and no more than knee-deep so you can wade across. Stay inside city limits and stroll through our three city parks. I definitely need to return for more than a day next time. Here’s where you can get all your Itasca State Park information and maps and look over the educational and historical exhibits. Gibbs' last act as commissioner was ordering the logs for Douglas Lodge, a rustic but genteel hostelry that had its own post office until 1952. The 1910 Clubhouse has 10 bedrooms. I’m loving your State Park Challange, such a fabulous idea! The first female park commissioner in North America, Gibbs stood up to loggers (even threatened her with a gun) to protect the park’s pine trees in 1903 – demanding that they lower the level of the water that had been dammed. Looks beautiful! There are also fascinating attractions to see within the Itasca State Park, not just the general park activities. Take a refreshing dip in the swimming area or catch some rays on one of the deck chairs on the beach. From Bemidji, it’s about a 25-mile drive south through the woods to Itasca State Park, where the mighty Mississippi begins its journey as a small wilderness stream at Lake Itasca. Luckily, it takes just a weekend to see many of Itasca's highlights. Things to do near Itasca State Park on Tripadvisor: See 122 reviews and 678 candid photos of things to do near Itasca State Park in Lake Itasca, Minnesota. Sights & Landmarks in Lake Itasca. "No measure was ever more unreasonably harassed and opposed," wrote park founder Jacob Brower. MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest. That spring, with rising water threatening to swamp Itasca's pines, she asked loggers to open their dam gates to lower water levels, as required by law. This looks like an amazing Park! Be careful when many people, especially children, are using the bike path, whose ups and downs often obscure oncoming traffic. On a cold winter's night, follow the twinkling lights. Love the land? Log guest cabins also were built, and people on a budget could stay at the Bear Paw Campground, which still holds the ice house where campers stocked their coolers with lake ice packed in sawdust. Your email address will not be published. Itasca State Park is the second-oldest state park in the country. Former hockey mom sharing memorable emptynester, solo, family and girlfriend-getaway adventures, as well as my latest book reviews and updates on my quest for the best adult mac and cheese. Your email address will not be published. Today, the park totals more than 32,000 acres and includes more than 100 lakes. I did! This flowering weed may look pretty, but it bites. There are many things to see and do in the state park near the lake, including hiking, visiting historical sites such as the Indian Cemetery and Wegmann's Cabin, and camping. Wilderness Drive. The Evergreen Gifts and Fun Park has something for everyone, including escape rooms, a gift shop, and a fun park. Dining: Douglas Lodge is a very pleasant place to have a meal. What an amazing place! I like that there’s a visitors center with a lot of information, and I love the fire tower. The answer: This post contains links to products and services. Located about four hours northwest of the Twin Cities, Itasca State Park is home to the Mississippi River Headwaters, 45 miles of hiking trails, really tall and really old pine trees (200+ years old), a 100-ft. fire tower you can climb, historical sites, camping, fishing, boating and so much more. The sandy soil on the Wisconsin River is a springboard for naturalists, past and present. That tower looks intense to climb . Passing the headwaters, the path joins Wilderness Drive, which soon becomes one-way. In May, Whitewater State Park is the place to find trout, morels and wildflowers. From Itasca, the river flows north to Lake Bemidji, then heads east through Cass Lake and Lake Winnibigoshish. Then help preserve it for the next generation. The best bet in winter are the 12 two-room Four-Season Suites, near Douglas Lodge in two buildings that sit on either side of a large asphalt parking lot. But in 1891, the Legislature gave the people their first state park by one vote. What a gorgeous park! Water levels went down, but soon logging lawyers got a court order to keep her away from the dam, and she resigned her post. Thank you so much. Nearby. You’ll find more than 20 interpretive signs that provide you background on the top things to do at Itasca State Park. By the boat landing, Itasca Sports rents canoes, kayaks, bikes, paddleboats and pontoon boats, and it sells fishing tackle, snacks and basic camping goods. A drought that year showed him that the five creeks flowing into Lake Itasca had nearly dried up, but the one flowing out stayed fairly constant. Thank you…I’m all about history and discovering how little I know about the state I’ve lived in for the past 27 years. Don't miss this narrated 1½-hour trip around the lake. Accommodations: Except for the Four-Season Suites, and five Bert's Cabins that stay open for the November deer-hunting season, park lodgings in the park close in October. There are 11 hike-in campsites at some of the backcountry lakes, and two drive-in campgrounds with more than 250 RV and tent sites. "You can no more say Schoolcraft discovered Itasca than you can say Christopher Columbus truly discovered America.". In a provincial park wrapped by Lake Superior, campers exult in beauty. What a great looking park. Here are some of the most recommended things to do in Itasca State Park: Zorbaz On Gull Lake. Copyright © 2020 . While Itasca State Park offers 45 miles of hiking trails, you can also bike on a 16-mile paved and off-road paved trail or take a scenic drive along the 10-mile Wilderness Drive to reach many of the historical and nature sites. That’s a common question I receive. The Lake Ozawindib group center of up to 75 includes a large dining hall, a counselor cabin that sleeps five and a shower building. Bert's Cabins, once part of a private resort, now are rented by the park. It is really nice that the park is set up for all physical capabilities. Top things to do at Itasca State Park: Minnesota State Park Challenge June 23, 2020 Itasca State Park is one of the best MN state parks for hiking, boating, fishing and camping – it’s also home to Lake Itasca and the Mississippi River Headwaters Visit Itasca State Park – home of the Mississippi River Headwaters But there are plenty of other things to see and do here, both in the summer and winter months. On Lake Michigan, a pioneering inventor transformed an island. Many people are surprised to learn the Mississippi River’s origins begin in Minnesota in Itasca State Park. Itasca State Park is home to a great variety of wildlife. Cabins of various sizes come without kitchens, but some have fireplace and screened porch. Loving your posts about Minnesota and surrounds. Two Inlets Resort is located north of Park Rapids, MN and just south of world famous Itasca State Park. Five miles of twisting and rolling paved bike path follow the East Arm of Lake Itasca, past Douglas Lodge, Preachers Grove and through Bear Paw Campground. The Douglas Lodge has been housing visitors since 1905, when it was known as "a jewel standing in mud.''. I did some unplanned trail running to escape the mosquitoes! For more, see Itasca in winter. download the map from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website. What a great state park! I love the historical tidbits! But most people at the headwaters are content to pick their way across the boulders that separate lake from river or to wade for a few yards through the pristine water. In northern Illinois, a state park draws crowds to its forest canyons and riverside cliffs. Fireplace of States. 47.2398, -95.2077 View on Google Maps . The nature center looks very interesting. Take a boat … I love your Minnesota posts! In Wisconsin's Baraboo Hills, a stunning state park makes people come running. Surrounded by nature, a lucky few sleep in relative luxury. How cool would it be to see where the Mississippi River starts! Follow a hiking trail and set up camp for the night, enjoying the nature all around and having lots of fun adventures. Contact website. Thank you so much! Searchable listings of Itasca State Park RV parks and campgrounds. For those who are directionally challenged or don’t know weeds from flowers, check out my favorite day hiking apps. Aiton Heights Fire Tower. For many years, the headwaters was marked only by a 1930s plaque; now, there's also a center named for Mary Gibbs, with a restaurant, gift shop and plaza lined with exhibits, many featuring Gibbs' turn-of-the-century photographs. Use our easy Lodging Search to find exactly the type of accommodation you are looking for at the right price. Stand under towering pines at Preacher's Grove. Learn how your comment data is processed. Group lodgings include the 10-bedroom, six-bath Clubhouse, which sleeps 21 and has a fireplace and screened porch overlooking Lake Itasca but no kitchen. Near the end of the drive, a half-mile gravel path leads to the Aiton Heights Fire Tower, which takes climbers above the treetops. Even so, Schoolcraft's claim was disputed until 1888, when Jacob Brower was sent by the Minnesota Historical Society to survey the lake. The loop is 17 miles, a great way to spend an afternoon. You’ll find several interpretative signs on the way up, which explains all the different strata or layers. Hotels near (MSP) St Paul Intl Airport; Hotels near (BJI) Bemidji Airport; All things to do in Lake Itasca; Things to do near Itasca State Park. To get a piece of quiet, visit one of many state natural areas. Itasca State Park. Canoeists regularly get lost there. I would love to visit this park and climb the fire tower. That was super cool to see where the river gets its start – pretty symbolic on how great things have humble beginnings and you have to start somewhere. Staycation ideas: Visit the top state parks in the U.S. Passing the headwaters, which would have been hidden behind grasses in Schoolcraft's day, Coborn remarked on the agent's luck. These Native American grave sites are now protected by law and local nations provide direction on its maintenance. At Minnesota's Blue Mounds, the shifting beauty of the prairie has a showcase. On one wall, an electronic quiz asks visitors what determines the beginning of the river. For lunch, eat in the cafeteria of the Mary Gibbs Mississippi Headwaters Center, which serves sandwiches, soups and desserts. Trail difficulty levels are easy to moderate for the most part (at least the ones we explored). Here are a few other top things to do at Itasca State Park – the third most-visited state park in Minnesota. Parks and tourist attractions to consider in the Itasca State Park, Minnesota area are listed below. Love to visit and explore. Events: Check for lantern-lit ski, snowshoe and hiking evenings, concerts and other naturalist programs. The Fire Tower in Itasca will definitely give you a workout… but the views look like they’re worth it! Only the second state park in the nation, after Niagara Falls in New York, Itasca contains more than a quarter of the state's old-growth pines outside the Boundary Waters. Visit Website . Of all Minnesota's state parks, it has by far the most overnight visitors. Gliding under a canopy of trees, cyclists can stop to see the largest white pine and the largest red pine, as well as hike half a mile to Bohall Lake. Before you visit any of the 66 Minnesota state parks such as Itasca State Park, check out these helpful state park online resources provided on the Minnesota DNR website.*. Click on the name of any sightseeing attraction or park for more information. On the second weekend of June, everyone is invited for a day of fishing, hiking and trail riding. But a young man who had been on Cass' 1820 exhibition noticed that Cass Lake had two inlets, and in 1832, he returned to Cass Lake and asked an Ojibwe man named Ozawindib to lead him to the river's real source. This park has been around for 125 years and is one of the best spots in Minnesota. It truly is a great state park to explore. Love the fact about the red pines and the controlled fires. See all kid friendly things to do in Lake Itasca on Tripadvisor. Itasca looks like the perfect place for a staycation and with clearly so much to explore. A lot of people are surprised the Mississippi River starts in Minnesota. 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