Random thoughts, rants, raves and photo opportunities

2013 - Myre-Big Island State Park, Albert Lea, MN

For our final camping trip of the season, we spent MEA weekend at Myre-Big Island State Park. Located in Albert Lea, MN, Myre-Big Island offers hiking, biking, and paddling opportunities. The fall colors were gorgeous and the Hiking Club trail had a pretty good mix of scenery between its prairie and deep wood views.

Enjoy the photographs (click thumbnails for larger view)..

2013 - Red River State Recreation Area, East Grand Forks, MN

On a weekend road cruise to geocache the state parks in the northwest corner of Minnesota, we used the Red River State Recreation Area as our base of operations. On this cold and rainy weekend, we parked the camper here for lodging as we geocached the weekend away at the northern parks and the greater Grand Forks area. The location of the campground was both a blessing and a curse. It was nice being located in downtown East Grand Forks, MN, on such a nasty cold and rainy day. It provided us with places to hang out while the rain was falling. Though, the noises of town late at night and into the early hours of the morning left most of us restless in bed (traffic, sirens, train whistles). I probably would not camp here again.

Enjoy the photographs (click thumbnails for larger view)..

2013 - Scenic State Park, Bigfork, MN

Our gang spent five gorgeous days last week camping at Scenic State Park. Located near Bigfork, MN, on the Edge of the Wilderness, Scenic State Park is literally one of THE most gorgeous state parks in Minnesota outside of the northern shores of Lake Superior.

The park is very nicely maintained and the park staff were very busy keeping the park clean and picked up. The park offers hiking, paddling, fishing and a swimming beach. We managed to take advantage of just about every feature this park has to offer. The only issues we experienced were fairly minor. The swimming beach is not far away but just far enough away where the kids couldn't wander down to swim on their own. The mosquitoes weren't bad but the biting black flies were out something fierce. In spite of the beach and the flies, I would definitely return to this park to camp again.

I managed to snap a couple hundred pictures. Here is just a sample of our experience.

Enjoy the photographs (click thumbnails for larger view)..

2013 - Maplewood State Park, Pelican Rapids, MN

We spent Independence Day week camping at Maplewood State Park. Located six miles east of Pelican Rapids, MN, Maplewood State Park offers paddling and hiking opportunities. The park is nicely maintained and the park staff were very friendly. But I have to admit, I would probably not return here a second time. While the actual campsite was very nice, it is unfortunate that the beach is over four miles away and the hiking trails are just too steep for young children. But our gang made the best of it and spent our time paddling in the lake, visiting nearby parades, and repairing flat tires.

Enjoy the photographs (click thumbnails for larger view)..

2012 - Grand Portage State Park, Grand Portage, MN

Following our stop at Grand Marais, we decided to drive the 40 miles to Grand Portage State Park to view Pigeon Falls. Located on the border between Minnesota and Ontario, only the primary falls on the Pigeon River was flowing today. Low water levels left the secondary falls to the left at a mere trickle and the secondary falls to the right were non-existent. We still marvelled at Minnesota's highest waterfall and enjoyed the history lesson provided by state park signage.

Enjoy the photographs (click thumbnails for larger view)..

2012 - Split Rock Creek State Park, Pipestone, MN

We spent Labor Day weekend camping at Split Rock Creek State Park. Located six miles south of Pipestone, MN, Split Rock Creek is one of Minnesota's smallest state parks. The quaint little park is a four hour drive from the Twin Cities. Because of this distance, we were worried about the condition of the camping accomodations. We were all pleasantly surprised at how well maintained it was and enjoyed the weekend. The quiet and laid back atmosphere of this park allowed the kids to ramble around and hang out with little danger.

Enjoy the photographs (click thumbnails for larger view)..

2012 - Lake Bemidji State Park, Bemidji, MN

Anna was away for her second stay at Catholic Youth Camp so the rest of us spent the week camping at Lake Bemidji State Park. Located on the north shore of Lake Bemidji, near Bemidji, MN, this state park has the best maintained amenities of all the state parks we've camped at to date. While it can't compete with the north shore or the iron range state parks in terms of scenery, Lake Bemidji is easily tops on my list of state parks I'd return to.

Besides being just a couple of miles from town, what made Lake Bemidji attractive to me was the vast potential for outdoor activities which include miles of hiking including a trail through a living bog, biking on the Paul Bunyan Trail, fishing on the pier, a swimming beach, paddling the canoe, bountiful geocaching opportunities, etc.

Enjoy the photographs (click thumbnails for larger view)..

2012 - Zippel Bay State Park, Williams, MN

One of the goals on my lifetime bucket list is to camp at each of the Minnesota State Parks that offer camping.  Wanting a bit of adventure, I spent the weekend camping at Zippel Bay State Park with Molly and a group of friends.

Located on the southern shore of the Lake of the Woods, Zippel Bay is Minnesota's most northerly state park. Our stay was very pleasant and the weather was perfect. The park is spectacular but also very remote. If you want secluded and quiet, this is a place for you. The only negative thing I can say about this park is that the showers were about a mile from our campsite and we had too drive to get there. Beyond that, if you can handle no electricity while camping and a seven hour drive from the Twin Cities, Zippel Bay is well worth the visit.

Enjoy the photographs (click thumbnails for larger view)..

2012 - McCarthy Beach State Park, Side Lake, MN

Our family camped at McCarthy Beach State Park this weekend. McCarthy Beach is located in Side Lake, MN, which is approximately 20 miles north of Chisholm, MN, placing it nearly in the middle of the iron range.

The weather did not cooperate as we experienced rain during two of the four days. The insects were around but didn't seem to bother us if we stayed out of the deep woods.  Things we enjoyed?  Relaxation, swimming at the beach, touring the Soudan Underground Mine, hiking the trails, geocaching, and enjoying the campfire. We fished for a short time too and Anna managed to pull in a lunker of a sunfish.

McCarthy Beach is in gorgeous country.  I would probably return to McCarthy Beach but I think I would camp much later into the season when the weather is more stable and the water at the beach is a bit warmer.

Enjoy the photographs (click thumbnails for larger view)..

2011 - Interstate State Park, Taylors Falls, MN

Our family camped at Interstate State Park this last MEA weekend.  Located just north of the Twin Cities, Interstate State Park is just two miles west of Taylors Falls, MN.  On the banks of the St. Croix River, the area is known for its immense beauty and geological features such as glacial potholes.

Dismissing the cold nights, the weather was absolutely perfect.  Frosts earlier in the season had killed off the insects, food and beverages were plentiful, and we were able to explore the area.  While camping with seven kids can be trying, I think it is still a consensus that we all had a good time.  Things we enjoyed?  Relaxation, hiking, geocaching, kayaking Chisago Lake and enjoying the campfire.  The thing we liked the least about Interstate State Park is its proximity to MN State Highway 95.  The noise from the traffic, particularly trucks jake braking down the hill, is not what I look for in camping.  While the beauty of the river is enticing, the traffic alone is the reason why I will never again camp at Interstate.

Enjoy the photographs (click thumbnails for larger view)..