Random thoughts, rants, raves and photo opportunities

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 - Missouri Headwaters State Park, Three Forks, MT

A few years back I visited the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers down in St. Louis, MO.  I've even visited both Mississippi River headwaters at Lake Itasca and the mouth of the Mississippi River near Venice, LA.  Today I was able to visit the headwaters of the historic Missouri River located within Montana's Missouri Headwaters State Park.

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

2012 - Hueston Woods State Park, Oxford, OH

Anna's synchronized swimming team made the 2012 national competition located in Oxford, OH.  Rather than having the expense of four nights worth of hotel rooms, we pulled the camper along and camped at Hueston Woods State Park, which is located just a couple of miles north of town.

The park seemed to have it all and the facilities were as nice as anything I've seen within Minnesota's state park system.  The park, located on the shores of Acton Lake, has a swimming beach, a marina, mountain bike trails, hiking trails, a lodge with a swimming pool, and even offers horse back riding (horses provided).  Hueston Woods has a prehistoric side to it where the park is littered with fossils.  The fossils are so plentiful here that it's even legal to gather and take home your own collection.

Hueston Woods State Park was a very pleasant experience.  I believe the entire family had a great time at this park as we could all find something to do.  If the park wasn't 750 miles from home, we would definately visit the park again.

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

2012 - Turkey Run State Park, Marshall, IN

On our way to Oxford, OH, we decided to swing down 20 miles off the route to go hunt down Indiana's second oldest geocache Turkey Run Stach (GCC6).  Located in the west-central part of Indiana near Marshall, Turkey Run State Park resides within geological formations carved out by glacial meltwaters.  Hiking the trail system here exposes just how spectacular mother nature can be with its gorges and views.  The park also features waterways frequented by paddlers, an abandoned coal mine, and an old covered bridge.

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)..

2011 - Bear Head Lake State Park, Ely, MN

Our family camped at Bear Head Lake State Park this weekend.  Located in the great north woods of Minnesota, Bear Head Lake is approximately half way between Tower and Ely.  While the area is known for vast populations of wolves and bears, the only critters we ran into were the three bears at the North American Bear Center, located just south of Ely.

Believe it or not, this was our family's first solo camping trip without the presense of other beloved friends and family members.  The weather was absolutely perfect, there were no troublesome insects, and the food was plentiful.  With the exception of a dead battery in the truck and having run out of beer, every one of us seemed to have a great time.  Things we enjoyed?  Relaxation, swimming at the beach, kayaking the lakes, hiking the trails, geocaching, enjoying the campfire, and stargazing at night.  There are many other gorgeous state parks we'd like to camp but Bear Head Lake has certainly made it to our short-list of places to return.

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