A lot of people are surprised the Mississippi River starts in Minnesota. * With so much to explore, it’s one of the best MN state parks. Yes, I may or may not have heeded and I may or may not have fallen into the Mississippi River. As fate would have it, he became the second of only 14 people buried in Pioneer Cemetery – the same year it was established in 1898. Note that while this interpretative center at Itasca State Park is open, the gift shop is currently closed due to the pandemic. There's an Ojibwe birchbark lodge and a canvas tent with early camping supplies. 30 miles south of Bemidji is the East entrance on Hwy 71, and 1/10 mile north on Hwy 200. In spring, southeast Missouri is heaven for hikers, paddlers and rockhounds. I look forward to reading more. Lt. Zebulon Pike said it was Leech Lake, Lewis Cass said it was Cass Lake and Giacomo Beltrami said it was Lake Julia. hehehe we could smoke a peace pipe there! You’ll find several interpretative signs on the way up, which explains all the different strata or layers. Dining: Douglas Lodge is a very pleasant place to have a meal. Kids love to run across the rocks that mark the start of the Mississippi. For a sneak peek of the Mississippi River headwaters, check out Itasca State Park’s webcam. How cool would it be to see where the Mississippi River starts! The Headwaters Cafe recently opened for walk-up window service only. Two Inlets Resort is located north of Park Rapids, MN and just south of world famous Itasca State Park. You’ll find several natural and historical exhibits under the portico outside the Mary Gribbs Mississippi Headwaters Center – a self-guided history tour from 8,000 years ago to the 17th century. The loop is 17 miles, a great way to spend an afternoon. Cabins and guesthouses are cushy, but still in the middle of nature. So sad. Under the new park commissioner, logging around Itasca continued for another 14 years. Log guest cabins also were built, and people on a budget could stay at the Bear Paw Campground, which still holds the ice house where campers stocked their coolers with lake ice packed in sawdust. In northern Illinois, a state park draws crowds to its forest canyons and riverside cliffs. We are visiting those in Maine this summer. What are some things to do in Itasca State Park? In Minnesota's Wild River State Park, a guesthouse lets guests dwell in comfort amid 7,000 acres of beauty. Jun 11, 2020 - Established in 1891, Itasca is Minnesota's oldest state park. For more, see Itasca in winter. But most people at the headwaters are content to pick their way across the boulders that separate lake from river or to wade for a few yards through the pristine water. Aiton Heights Fire Tower. Explore 117 acres of swamp, trout stream, marsh walk, shelter, woods and prairie at Sucker Creek Preserve. There are also fascinating attractions to see within the Itasca State Park, not just the general park activities. I like that there’s a visitors center with a lot of information, and I love the fire tower. I definitely need to return for more than a day next time. Looks beautiful! "I grew up thinking of it as a rite of passage, somewhere between baptism and confirmation," says Gene Merriam, former commissioner of Minnesota's Department of Natural Resources. Things to do near Itasca State Park on Tripadvisor: See 122 reviews and 678 candid photos of things to do near Itasca State Park in Lake Itasca, Minnesota. Sports rental: This article makes me want to pack my bags and visit Minnesota! 22.17 miles. Stand under towering pines at Preacher's Grove. From Itasca, the river flows north to Lake Bemidji, then heads east through Cass Lake and Lake Winnibigoshish. are held from Memorial Day weekend through the first week of October. After snow flies, visitors zip around Minnesota's beloved state park on skis and snowshoes. The views were pretty amazing from the top of the fire tower…would love to return in the fall. Itasca State Park; Tamarac and Hamden Slough National Wildlife Refuges; Trails & Parks. It’s a shame how McMullen was killed. Would love to check out the view during the fall. Family History: World War II and The Holocaust, Aunt Fannie’s DEET-free mosquito repellent wipes, on the link and purchase any of Aunt Fannie’s products. This is a gussied-up version of the nascent Mississippi; in its natural state, it was a muddy swamp, before 1930s Civilian Conservation Corps crews revamped it with tons of rock and fill. Eagles know a steady flow of tourists into the park means a ready source of roadkill, so they'll stick around until nearby farmers start to clear their fields and it's easier for them to find mice. Rocks tell the earthshaking story of how the Baraboo Hills were created. Here are just a few of the top historical and archaeological points of interest and things to do at Itasca State Park – ranked as one of the top MN state parks. Would love to climb it and see the view. Accommodations: Except for the Four-Season Suites, and five Bert's Cabins that stay open for the November deer-hunting season, park lodgings in the park close in October. In spring, hikers can spot showy lady's-slippers along the trail, where special features are marked by numbers explained in a take-along guide. To get a sense for what northern Minnesota was like before the loggers came, hike the half-mile Bohall Trail to Bohall Lake, off Wilderness Drive. Campsite reservations in Itasca are among the hardest to get, after Split Rock, Temperance River and Tettegouche state parks. Resigned from the corporate world after 25+ years to take a blind leap of faith in focusing my energy on two of my passions: writing and traveling. Take a refreshing dip in the swimming area or catch some rays on one of the deck chairs on the beach. Even so, Schoolcraft's claim was disputed until 1888, when Jacob Brower was sent by the Minnesota Historical Society to survey the lake. Nearby. Today, the park totals more than 32,000 acres and includes more than 100 lakes. To help plan your hiking adventures at Itasca State Park, view and download the map from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website. This state park seems to have a lot of different things to do. | Standing there next to the pine log, carved with yellow lettering to mark the start of the river’s journey, you can’t help but be impressed at just how far … Indeed, this placid pond is perhaps the park’s largest attraction. Located about four hours northwest of the Twin Cities, Itasca State Park is home to the Mississippi River Headwaters, 45 miles of hiking trails, really tall and really old pine trees (200+ years old), a 100-ft. fire tower you can climb, historical sites, camping, fishing, boating and so much more. I haven’t had a single mosquito bite this summer where I’ve applied these wipes. The Douglas Lodge has been housing visitors since 1905, when it was known as "a jewel standing in mud.''. Canoeists regularly get lost there. Bert's Cabins, once part of a private resort, now are rented by the park. Without a doubt, the most popular attraction at Itasca State Park is to walk across the headwaters of the Mississippi River. What a great state park! For lunch, eat in the cafeteria of the Mary Gibbs Mississippi Headwaters Center, which serves sandwiches, soups and desserts. Very grateful that every vote counts so we can all enjoy the breathtaking beauty and virgin red pine forests of Itasca State Park. It was named as a National Natural Landmark in 1965 and added to the National Register of Historic Places eight years later. Henry Schoolcraft determined that Lake Itasca was the Mississippi’s source in 1832. Prettiest street in the Twin Cities: The historic and beautiful homes of Summit Ave. Spend enough hours in the park, and you’re likely to see some deer, beaver, porcupine, black bears, and wolves as well. What a beautiful state park! Near the end of the drive, a half-mile gravel path leads to the Aiton Heights Fire Tower, which takes climbers above the treetops. Bicyclists can circle the park on paths and Wilderness Drive. Paul Bunyan & Babe the Blue Ox, Bemidji. Thanks…love sharing all the cool things to do in Minnesota. My pleasure…lots of great trails to explore. I love the historical tidbits! All images are taken by kmf and available for digital download. Contact website. Minnesota snow depth and trail conditions, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) website, check out my favorite hiking products to bring along, A local’s guide to the most scenic drive in Minnesota: The North Shore along Lake Superior, Best places to visit in Minnesota for fall foliage, A local’s guide to the best lakes in Minnesota, A local’s guide to the best of the best lakes in the land of 10,000 lakes – Minnesota, A travel blogger’s confession: When I pretended to be a time traveler, Give the gift of travel and the gift of books: Travel gift guide and book gift guide, The best Minnesota hiking trails within 50 miles of the Twin Cities. Visit Website . This is where the Mississippi River begins its 2,552-mile journey to the Gulf of Mexico. Sorry to hear you took a tumble while crossing the headwaters–I swear it was easier years ago, or maybe I was just younger haha . Not from Minnesota? What an awesome resource for this park! Walk across the mighty Mississippi as it starts its winding journey 2,552 miles to the Gulf of Mexico. They backed down and obeyed. On the backside of the Itasca State Park map that you can download or obtain from the visitor center, heed that very first visitor tip: The headwaters rocks are slippery, use caution. This looks like a great place. That tower looks intense to climb . All things to do in Lake Itasca; Things to do near Itasca State Park. What time of year do you recommend visiting to avoid crowds? The waters of Lake Itasca supply the fledgling Mississippi. I love your Minnesota posts! The Fire Tower in Itasca will definitely give you a workout… but the views look like they’re worth it! Programs – learn new outdoor skills such as camping, paddling, mountain biking, fishing, archery, Free Junior Park Naturalist Program – an opportunity for kids ages 7 to 12 to learn and earn patches. [+] This is the best way to see the park and to get from one place to another. Lodging reservations for park lodgings can be made 120 days in advance at 866-857-2757. The sandy soil on the Wisconsin River is a springboard for naturalists, past and present. Things to Do in the Park Itasca State Park (dnr.state.mn.us) has an accessible fishing pier, playground and swimming beach on Lake Itasca, as well as boat and bike rentals. To make the most of your visit to Itasca State Park and the Mississippi headwaters, reserve a campsite in the park. Itasca State Park is home to a great variety of wildlife. Click the blue button below. Here are a few other top things to do at Itasca State Park – the third most-visited state park in Minnesota. The first female park commissioner in North America, Gibbs stood up to loggers (even threatened her with a gun) to protect the park’s pine trees in 1903 – demanding that they lower the level of the water that had been dammed. It’s only about 20 feet wide and no more than knee-deep so you can wade across. On the Upper Peninsula, a splendid wilderness remains unchanged. It's just as lovely in winter, when pine boughs are draped in snow and 13 miles of trails are groomed for skiing. So I’m challenging myself to see as many state parks as I can in 2020. Historic Walking Areas in Lake Itasca Thank you so much. Otherwise, the red pines would be fighting for survival among other trees such as spruce, fir, maple and basswood. Early explorers also were fooled by the swamplike nature of the first 50 river miles; the river barely has a current after spring's high waters. Peace Pipe Vista at Itasca State Park is located between Pioneer Cemetery and Preachers Grove, Preachers Grove in Itasca State Park is a beautiful area of 280-year-old pine trees, which began growing after a major forest fire in the 1710s. The best outdoor activities in Lake Itasca according to Tripadvisor travellers are: Itasca State Park; Lake Itasca; Red Pine Trail; Landmark Interpretive Trail; Bison … The view from the top of the fire tower is a great reward! For those who are directionally challenged or don’t know weeds from flowers, check out my favorite day hiking apps. While Lake Itasca is well-known as the source of the Mississippi River (a lot of controversy on that topic I’ll save for another time), the park actually contains more than 150 lakes – most of them concealed under the dense forest. Getting there: It's 3½ to 4 hours north of the Twin Cities. Thanks. But as one of the new exhibits notes, Schoolcraft was simply one of the few explorers smart enough to ask someone who knew. But in 1891, the Legislature gave the people their first state park by one vote. Please note that If you choose to click on the link and purchase any of Aunt Fannie’s products (some other cool chemical-free products for pests and for cleaning), I may receive compensation as part of their Refer-A-Friend program. If you continue to use this site we will assume that you are happy with it. Then help preserve it for the next generation. See all kid friendly things to do in Lake Itasca on Tripadvisor. Minnesota looks like a great state to enjoy the outdoors! The most popular trail is the Dr. Roberts Nature Trail, which starts from the lakeshore at the foot of Douglas Lodge. Wilderness Drive. You’ll find more than 20 interpretive signs that provide you background on the top things to do at Itasca State Park. Most, it turns out, agree with Joseph Nicollet, who thought that a river begins at the farthest point upstream where the first drop of water flows, rather than with Henry Schoolcraft and Jacob Brower, who thought it was the farthest point upstream where the flow first constitutes a river. What a great state park to visit. The fun park has things like bumper cars, mini golf, and rock climbing. Minimal information is available for the Pioneer Cemetery in Itasca State Park – many times only the date of death recorded on the grave markers is known. Family fishing at Itasca State Park / Christy Bruggenthies The Douglas Lodge at Itasca State Park is one of the many places to stay near Bemidji Crossing the Mississippi Headwaters at Itasca State Park is a Bemidji-area tradition for many / Democratic Travelers Where the Mississippi River begins In the only state that borders three Great Lakes, the best places to stay are in state parks. The two-bedroom Historic East Cabin has a fireplace, heat and air-conditioning. Approximately 7–8,000 years ago, Native American hunters pursued wild animals for food in the Itasca State Park region. Cruises: Coborn's Lake Itasca Tours In Wisconsin's Baraboo Hills, a stunning state park makes people come running. That’s a common question I receive. And while the actual starting point had some contentious debate back in the day, the 2,552-mile-long Mississippi River begins its journey running out of Lake Itasca. Loved the memories this post brought back. O can see why it was designated a historical park. The Aiton Heights Fire Tower Trail includes a great view from the tower. But a young man who had been on Cass' 1820 exhibition noticed that Cass Lake had two inlets, and in 1832, he returned to Cass Lake and asked an Ojibwe man named Ozawindib to lead him to the river's real source. However, some of Itasca's campsites are designated first-come, first-served. This park has been around for 125 years and is one of the best spots in Minnesota. From Gooseberry Falls, a single stretch of highway is packed with Nature's spectacles. "You can no more say Schoolcraft discovered Itasca than you can say Christopher Columbus truly discovered America.". Luckily, it takes just a weekend to see many of Itasca's highlights. Drive along Wilderness Drive. Itasca State Park, Lake Itasca: See 504 reviews, articles, and 367 photos of Itasca State Park, ranked No.1 on Tripadvisor among 11 attractions in Lake Itasca. The Mall of America does offer a lot of variety, I’m definitely enjoying the great outdoors in Minnesota. If you’d rather go hiking, there are over 30 miles of trails within Itasca State Park’s unique old growth pine ecosystem. In spring, orchids and other wildflowers bloom along trails. Category: Our Blog Tag: fall color tour, family vacation, Itasca State Park, northern Minnesota resort, Park Rapids MN, Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge, Two Inlets Lake, Two Inlets Resort, wildlife viewing. While he claimed it was an accident, Rust was tried for murder and acquitted – although McMullen’s friends were not convinced it was an accident. Wade across. There is also Wegmann's Cabins, which is just one of the landmarks of a time gone by. Required fields are marked *. It’s also great that there are a range of activities for the whole family to join in too. What a great state park! You’ll definitely want to spend some time at the Mary Gibbs Mississippi Headwaters Center before taking the short trail to the Mississippi Headwaters – the top thing to do at Itasca State Park. To get a piece of quiet, visit one of many state natural areas. Here's how to keep your packing list short but still have what you need. I’m loving your State Park Challange, such a fabulous idea! Hiking is best in fall, when bugs are down and leaves change color. The direction in which the stream flowed had fooled everyone. Mississippi Headwaters; Nature & Parks in Lake Itasca. And before you head out to do some day hiking at Minnesota state parks, check out my favorite hiking products to bring along. Travel Insight by Theme Palace | Privacy policy, Top things to do at Itasca State Park: Minnesota State Park Challenge, Visit Itasca State Park – home of the Mississippi River Headwaters, Jacob V. Brower Visitor Center at Itasca State Park, Native American burial mounds at Itasca State Park, Great cardio workout and beautiful views at Itasca State Park’s 100-ft. Aiton Heights Fire Tower, Mary Gibbs Mississippi Headwaters Center at Itasca State Park, Walk across the Mississippi River Headwaters, More than 30 hiking trails at Itasca State Park, Take the scenic route on Wilderness Drive, Other top things to do at Itasca State Park, Join me on my Minnesota State Parks Staycation Challenge, Pin it for later – Top things to do at Itasca State Park, Related posts: Top things to do in Minnesota, Minnesota state parks staycation challenge series:…, Minnesota's Minneopa State Park features bison,…, Interstate State Park at Taylors Falls, Minn.:…, Things to do in Central Park: a one-day itinerary. In fact, every view seems to be so beautiful from the Mississippi headwaters to the view atop the fire tower. Itasca State Park is Minnesota’s oldest state park and the second oldest in the United States. Our guide was Kim Coborn, who said passengers on 85 percent of her trips see bald eagles. The fire towers are cool – and a great workout! This place looks beautiful. They might have done them all in if it hadn't been for people like 24-year-old Mary Gibbs, who in 1903 became North America's first female park commissioner after the death of her father. Ha! I love the peace pipe vista, so beautiful. Group lodgings include the 10-bedroom, six-bath Clubhouse, which sleeps 21 and has a fireplace and screened porch overlooking Lake Itasca but no kitchen. The 1910 Clubhouse has 10 bedrooms. Stay inside city limits and stroll through our three city parks. This handsome center near the south entrance is filled with all kinds of park memorabilia. Itasca is quieter in winter, when visitors can go to the headwaters of the Mississippi River by snowshoe. Minnesota is a fabulous place for hiking as are all state parks. Five miles of twisting and rolling paved bike path follow the East Arm of Lake Itasca, past Douglas Lodge, Preachers Grove and through Bear Paw Campground. Coborn’s Lake Itasca Tours offers naturalist narrated boat tours to the … Itasca definitely provides something to do for the entire family to enjoy. Water levels went down, but soon logging lawyers got a court order to keep her away from the dam, and she resigned her post. Located within Itasca State Park, Lake Itasca, MN is a glacial lake of only about 1.8 square miles in area. Itasca State Park Park Drive Park Rapids MN 56470 . Thank you so much. Why was it so hard to find? Passing the headwaters, the path joins Wilderness Drive, which soon becomes one-way. Located 20 miles (32.2 kilometers) from the main town, you won’t regret taking a trip to the excellent Itasca State Park. Established in 1891 to protect the forests and waters around the Mississippi River Headwaters, Itasca State Park attracts about 500,000 visitors annually. The Lake Ozawindib group center of up to 75 includes a large dining hall, a counselor cabin that sleeps five and a shower building. As she drew the boat closer, an eagle hopped onto a downed tree, where it sat for a while before flapping away. I waited my turn as it only allows six at a time. From the point, hikers can gaze upon Schoolcraft Island, where, on his short but fateful trip to the lake, the Indian agent had lunch, put up a flag and hurried off to fulfill the official purpose of his visit, which included vaccinating Ojibwe children for smallpox. Thank you so much! It's best to stick to basics — the burgers, the salad bar, the roast pork or turkey dinners. There's no view, but the suites are attractively furnished and have cable TV, kitchenettes, WiFi and screened, concrete-floored porches. It's a weird concept.". "It's a memory maker," says Terri Dinesen, manager of another Minnesota state park who was visiting Itasca on her weekend off. For many years, the headwaters was marked only by a 1930s plaque; now, there's also a center named for Mary Gibbs, with a restaurant, gift shop and plaza lined with exhibits, many featuring Gibbs' turn-of-the-century photographs. On the North Arm, it passes the Pioneer Cemetery, the beach and the 1893 ruins and replica of Theodore Wegmann's cabin and general store, where the early settler sold postcards, candy and ice cream to tourists. Next time I’m there I must visit Preacher’s Grove and climb the fire tower. For more, see Itasca in winter. . And this list makes for a great gift guide for day hikers. This fire tower was a different experience from my first fire tower climb at St. Croix State Park. Since the development of forest fire prevention, it’s necessary to intentionally start fires in red pine forests (called prescribed burnings) to remove shrubbery and open the tree canopy so sun can reach the ground. Fast forward about a century and the Native American (or Woodland people) remains were reburied in 10 burial mounds. Maine is so beautiful…I’m sure their state parks are stunning. Geologic Formations in Lake Itasca; State Parks in Lake Itasca; Hiking Trails in Lake Itasca; Bodies of Water in Lake Itasca; Popular Lake Itasca Categories. I found it interesting to learn that red pines depend on fires to reproduce. Itasca State Park, located just 22 miles north of Park Rapids, is 33,000 acres waiting for you to discover. Lake Itasca. I would love to visit this park. Here are the top five. There are more giant pines along the Nicollet Trail, which starts off Wilderness Drive near Elk Lake. . Of all Minnesota's state parks, it has by far the most overnight visitors. I only recommend products and services I use or would consider using myself. The park is especially popular in the summer months thanks to its hiking trails, campsites, fire tower, and other wonderful attractions. The armed superintendent threatened to shoot her if she put her hand on the levers, but she did anyway, famously declaring, "I will put my hand there, and you will not shoot it off, either.". "It's hard to convince people the river flows north," an Itasca naturalist said. 47.2398, -95.2077 View on Google Maps . Travel and discover new worlds and a new you on your next adventure. Itasca State Park trail distances range from 80 feet to 9.4 miles. From the headwaters, the mile-long Schoolcraft Trail follows the other side of the North Arm, ending at Hill Point, where a timber fence protects an Ojibwe cemetery. Aiton Heights Fire Tower was one of six observation towers in Itasca. Did you climb the tower? The answer: This post contains links to products and services. For your convenience, Itasca Sports rents bikes for you to use on the many paved bike trails that the park has to offer. 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