The 23 Ways to Camp on Minnesota Public Lands
$28 Fee Sites $14
Easily accessible, less equipment & expertise required
Remote, more equipment & expertise required
Primitive or No Amenities
This is an attempt at a simple, but encompassing guide to increase awareness of the variety of camping experiences found on Minnesota's public lands.
For those who spend nights outside on Minnesota's public lands.
In the state parks.
In 2016 the Minnesota state park system opened 100% of their campsites to reservations, and they have been booked. This is great revenue to support the parks and has secured plans for many happy campers. But for many others, the state parks are the first and sometimes the only place people know to look for camping opportunities. Finding fully reserved summer campgrounds across the state park system is a discouraging reality. But it's not the end of a dedicated camper's chances. Minnesota fields a vast landscape of outdoor overnight adventure alternatives. This is the place to find them.
The wide variety of camping experiences on Minnesota's public lands are differentiated by fee structure, rules & regulations, reservation ability, mix of amenities, and the amount of equipment or expertise required to safely and comfortably access them. This guide uses two major variables to better organize all of our public land camping opportunities. First, is the approach vehicle; by car camping, backpack camping, bike camping or paddle camping. Second is the land manager; typically a state or federal agency. City and county offerings are not covered here.
This guide is an aide and an invitation for you to unlock the full potential of Minnesota's public lands. Car camping in a state park is the first step into a vast regional recreation landscape. Go deeper. Drive into a state forest or national forest car campground and find many familiar amenities. Pull off of a forest road and make camp self-supported. Learn new skills with new equipment and hike, bike or paddle into remote campsites. Take the pressure off the state parks for more first timers to enter the funnel.
Elevate your outdoor experiences, progress as an outdoorist, and explore more of your public lands.
Let's go camping...
When the state park campground system became 100% reservable a lot of folks who couldn't find availability attempting to book their favorite campsites began to wonder if the camping landscape had changed for the worse. It hasn't.
There is more.
This guide is an illustration of the greater outdoor recreation landscape on Minnesota's public lands. It is an attempt at a simple, but encompassing overview of camping experiences to be pursued beyond car camping at the state parks.
It's all here.
This is the accumulated knowledge of a quest for information across realms digital and physical. From government websites, guide books and park office phone requests, to a hand drawn, three ring binder of maps living in one Chippewa National Forest ranger station, here is a collection of as many campsite locations as one individual could curate to complete a map of camping opportunities on Minnesota's public lands. There is a lot of opportunity.
Use more public land.
This is an invitation to go deeper. Elevate your comfort and capability to a style of camping that unlocks new territory and brings you outside for more time, more often. Take some pressure off those state park campsites. There’s so much more to explore. The more public land we use, the less we stand to lose.