Minnesota is famous for having so many lakes…which indeed is very true. However, another noteworthy thing that comes out of one of Minnesota’s lakes is the Mississippi River. Smack dab at the start of the Mississippi is a beautiful Itasca State Park, and in this post I will give you a few reasons to definitely swing by if you’re in the area. It’s one place you wont forget!
Before I get to talking about the headwaters of the great Mississippi, I’ll discuss some cool things to see there and also some great camping opportunities for both the backwoods backpacker and even for families! This first picture is one of many hidden lakes amongst the tall red and white pine trees. This lake is among my favorite because it’s off by itself and there isn’t too much foot traffic in and out of it…definitely a place of serenity!
The forests of Itasca State Park are overflowing with these epic pines…Super tall and each with its own story. These guys are one of my favorite parts of the forests. One thing I would HIGHLY suggest is to take their wilderness loop drive…year-round this one way road through the forest is like no other…Below is a shot taken from this road!
Now if you were wondering, “What else is there to do there besides look at lakes…” Well besides that, the park itself offers biking, boating, canoeing, kayaking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. All of these are SUPER fun…especially when you get way out on the trails…can feel like you’re flying through the park!
If you’re a photographer, this place is for you too! With lakes in every direction, sunrise and sunsets can be absolutely GORGEOUS! Just don’t forget to pack your bug spray…us Minnesotans joke that the mosquito is the state bird!
Itasca State Park is also known for being home to the beginning or “headwaters” of the Mississippi river. It feeds out of Lake Itasca (which is a gorgeous lake by the way) and starts as just a small stream, gaining momentum all the way down the the Gulf of Mexico. At this point thousands of lakes and rivers have drained into it. It’s largest river drainage system in the United States! Visiting the birth of something like that may seem boring to some but to me it’s a great metaphor of life. Things may start small but they build like a river and can become great!
Lastly, and most importantly….CAMPING…This state park has LOADS of great camping opportunities. Whether you’re an experienced backpacker or just out with the family in a RV or Camper! This park has 2 standard campgrounds and then even more campsites that are off trails and in wilderness areas! I personally have tried out all of them, but my absolute favorites are some of the backpack-in only sites…however keep an eye out for bears I have had a few interesting encounters!
Itasca State Park is a great memory and a good afternoon out on the trails, that’s for sure. The campgrounds are friendly and fun and hey, you can’t beat gorgeous lakes like these!
Words by Austin Tucker.
Questions and recommendations? Reach Austin on twitter at @austintuck_01!
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