A guide to camp sites in the Twin Cities metro

  • Article by: DENNIS LIEN , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 27, 2013 - 5:00 PM

Perfect for quick getaways, these close-to-home sites suit all schedules and interests.

Ask Twin Cities residents about overnight camping options, and they might suggest a two-hour drive to find a good place.

If they did, they’d be ignoring lots of opportunities in their own back yards.

More than a dozen state, regional and private parks in the seven-county metro area offer camping, from Baker Park Reserve in the west to William O’Brien and Afton state parks in the east. Some have only a limited number of spots, but others have 100 or more.

Each year, tens of thousands of people camp at them, with traffic especially heavy on weekends. The Father’s Day and Independence Day holidays typically are the busiest.

“From Memorial Day to Labor Day, the campgrounds are pretty full on weekends, but on weekdays … they’re pretty quiet,’’ said Mike Polehna, who manages Washington County parks, including campgrounds at Lake Elmo Park Reserve and St. Croix Bluffs Regional Park.

Options vary, from modern sites that have gravel paths, fire pits, picnic tables, electrical hookups and nearby showers and toilets, to primitive sites that require hikes to reach them, to comfortable camper cabins. There even are two Kampgrounds of America parks in Maple Grove and Jordan.

“Every campground and camp site is going to have its own unique characteristics,’’ said Arne Stefferud, manager of regional parks and natural resources at the Metropolitan Council. “If a camper is looking for a variety of different activities, Bunker Hills Regional Park provides you with a significant range of options, ranging from horseback riding to golfing, because they are all in that park. And if you want a more wilderness-type of experience, if you are interested in the natural environment, essentially some nice hiking opportunities and possibly the Minnesota Zoo, Lebanon Hills is right next door.’’

Here’s a quick glance at some of the more popular offerings around the metro area:

Bunker Hills Regional Park

Campers at this 1,600-acre park in Coon Rapids can ride horses, play a championship-level golf course, bike, hike or simply enjoy the scenery. There are 64 campsites, ranging from modern to rustic, with and without electricity, and one group site, which can accommodate up to 30 people. 763-862-4970

William O’Brien State Park

Set along the scenic St. Croix River north of Marine on St. Croix, the park has a variety of camping options, including more than 120 standard, rustic and remote campsites, three year-around camper cabins and one seasonal one. Campers also have terrific hiking, fishing and canoeing opportunities. 651-433-0500

Lake Elmo Park Reserve

The 2,165-acre park in Lake Elmo has two lakes and supports varied activities, such as archery, boating, fishing and mountain biking. It also has horse and bike trails and a two-acre swimming area with sand beach. The modern campground has 80 campsites. There also are five hike-in primitive campsites, 20 primitive sites at the equestrian center, and three group sites. As a park reserve, 80 percent of the acreage must remain in a wild condition and must display native landscape. 651-430-8370

Lebanon Hills Regional Park

The 2,000-acre park in Eagan and Apple Valley, which has 93 camp sites, offers miles of trails, many lakes, interactive nature displays, courses and programs, and is near the Minnesota Zoo. 651-688-1376

Baker Park Reserve

Located on the southeast edge of Lake Independence in Medina, the 2,700-acre park has more than 200 campsites, with all sorts of options, including ones with electrical hookups, ones designed for people with mobility problems, and four camper cabins featuring wooden bunk beds and screened-in porches. A long list of activities, such as swimming, biking and golf, are available. 763-694-7662

Others

Other parks offering varied types of camping include the Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Regional Park Reserve in Lino Lakes, Afton State Park south of Afton, St. Croix Bluffs Regional Park south of Afton, Lake Byllesby Regional Park west of Cannon Falls, Baylor Regional Park north of Norwood Young America, Carver Park Reserve in Victoria, Elm Creek Park Reserve in Maple Grove and Cleary Lake Regional Park in Prior Lake.

 

Dennis Lien is an outdoors enthusiast and a former newspaper reporter and editor.

  • related content

  • Websites for Twin Cities campgrounds

    Thursday June 27, 2013

    Websites showing types of camping and spots available, the costs and contact info are available for all of the parks:•...

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.

ADVERTISEMENT

Tennessee 13 FINAL
Jacksonville 21
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
New York 97 FINAL
Chicago 103
New Orleans 99 FINAL
Houston 90
Milwaukee 65 3rd Qtr 5:27
Sacramento 67
Oklahoma City 52 2nd Qtr 3:26
Golden State 60
Florida 2 FINAL(SO)
Philadelphia 1
Colorado 0 FINAL(OT)
Pittsburgh 1
Toronto 1 FINAL
Carolina 4
Washington 5 FINAL(OT)
Columbus 4
Anaheim 2 FINAL
Montreal 1
St. Louis 3 2nd Prd 18:53
Los Angeles 1
Edmonton 1 2nd Prd 13:48
San Jose 1
St Thomas (TX) 61 FINAL
Rice 72
Stony Brook 59 FINAL
Canisius 60
Temple 82 FINAL
Delaware 62
FIU 58 FINAL
Long Island 69
Lehigh 65 FINAL
Quinnipiac 80
South Alabama 54 FINAL
Richmond 65
Seton Hall 89 FINAL
South Florida 69
Ga Southern 76 FINAL
Stetson 67
Yale 57 FINAL
Vermont 56
Cleveland State 54 FINAL
Virginia 70
Wright State 69 FINAL
Western Carolina 56
Nicholls 54 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 79
Morgan State 48 FINAL
Rider 62
Idaho State 72 FINAL
South Dakota St 75
Oakland City 52 FINAL
Austin Peay 76
Eureka 38 FINAL
Bradley 80
Appalachian St 65 FINAL
Charlotte 75
Connecticut 56 FINAL
Duke 66
Southern Miss 46 FINAL
Jackson State 66
Coastal Carolina 68 FINAL
Ole Miss 71
Montana State 53 FINAL
South Dakota 55
LSU 79 FINAL
UAB 70
Ohio 69 FINAL
Evansville 81
CS-Dominguez 43 2nd Half 3:48
Cal State Fullerton 62
Walla Walla 31 2nd Half 4:58
Idaho 75
DePaul 42 2nd Half 10:40
Oregon State 65
Nevada 41 2nd Half 10:06
Pacific 48
Portland State 35 2nd Half 3:05
San Francisco 77
CS-Bakersfield 28 2nd Half 12:12
Utah State 37
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Niagara 76 FINAL
Cleveland State 58
High Point 59 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 81
Towson 64 FINAL
Wake Forest 74
Presbyterian 50 FINAL
Charlotte 66
Chicago State 62 FINAL
Bradley 59
Northwestern Coll 58 FINAL
Drake 102
Vanderbilt 67 FINAL
Marquette 80
Temple 78 FINAL
Howard 48
Southern Miss 66 FINAL
Ole Miss 68
UMBC 55 FINAL
Rider 67
Miami-Florida 74 FINAL
UCLA 67
St Mary-KS 51 FINAL
South Dakota 115
William & Mary 71 FINAL
Wofford 51
Troy 82 FINAL
Evansville 94
Loyola Marymount 54 FINAL
USC 96
St Francis-PA 52 FINAL
Duquesne 92
Indiana-Southeast 45 FINAL
IUPUI 95
Delaware State 52 FINAL
Detroit 74
Tenn Temple 48 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 68
West Virginia St 58 FINAL
Radford 52
Fairfield 47 FINAL
Seton Hall 79
Dartmouth 44 FINAL
New Hampshire 60
Ball State 47 FINAL
Pittsburgh 59
Jacksonville 61 FINAL
Tennessee St 64
Trine 45 FINAL
Western Mich 81
Tenn Tech 53 FINAL
Lipscomb 72
Samford 56 FINAL
Tulane 57
New Orleans 55 FINAL
Tulsa 78
Incarnate Word 61 FINAL
TX-Pan American 65
Ark-Little Rock 42 FINAL
South Dakota St 67
CS-Northridge 77 FINAL
Northern Ariz 71
Santa Clara 88 FINAL
Oregon 92
(19) Oklahoma St 55 FINAL
Weber State 49
Washington 69 FINAL
San Diego State 48
Cal Poly 68 FINAL
New Mexico 84
(10) Louisville 65 FINAL
Grand Canyon 51
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close