Western Minnesota marks the beginning of the Dakota plains. The forested lake country of Minnesota’s north and bluff country valleys of its south both transition near Minnesota’s borders with the neighboring Dakotas in fields of rolling prairie grasslands. The headwaters of four major rivers begin in western Minnesota providing ample canoeing and kayaking opportunities from nearby campgrounds. Hiking and mountain biking trails are also abundant in the campgrounds of Minnesota’s west, providing plenty of resources for active outdoor pursuits.
You can enjoy urban amenities while camping in the wild at Red River State Park in East Grand Forks. More than 100 campsites line the banks of the Red River of the North as it flows along the North Dakota border on its way to Lake Winnipeg in Canada. Canoeing is a popular activity at the campground and the river’s water holds a bounty of walleye and bass. A paved trail runs through the campground and connects the park with the nearby town where shopping, restaurants and entertainment are plentiful. The trail is suitable for hiking and biking activities.
Blueberry Hill campground in the Beltrami Island State Forest provides eight primitive campsites with basic amenities that require a short hike from the parking area to reach. Secluded and quiet, the campground is located on the western fringe of the Minnesota northwoods and gives campers access to a web of trails. More than 20 miles of hiking and horseback riding trails run through the forest as do over 200 miles of challenging mountain bike terrain.
Big Stone Lake
Campers seeking a quiet experience appreciate Big Stone Lake State Park’s seldom-used campground on the 26-mile long Big Stone Lake. The area is popular for day-use recreation due to the abundance of water within the park, but campers frequently can find the 37 lakeside campsites sparsely populated. Big Stone Lake serves as the headwaters for the Minnesota River and canoeing routes are plentiful. Three miles of hiking trails run along the banks through the park and a sandy beach provides swimming access.
Located approximately eight miles from Lake Itasca, Hungryman Lake Campground gives canoeists nearby access to the Mississippi River headwaters as well as direct access to picturesque Hungryman Lake. The 14 campsites are considered primitive with basic amenities. A centrally-located hand-pump provides water for the campground. Set among the gently rolling hills of the Two Inlets state forest, the campground is a good base camp for canoeing, hiking and mountain biking.
Lake Shetek is the largest lake in southwestern Minnesota and the Lake Shetek State Park provides access to the recreational opportunities the lake provides. Ninety-seven campsites in the main campgrounds and eight secluded cart-in sites let campers enjoy the quiet shores of the lake that serves as the headwaters for the Des Moines River. White pelicans are a common site on the 45-acre Loon Island during the summer and fall. Fourteen miles of hiking trails surround the lake and six miles of paved hiking and biking trails run through the park and connect with extensive regional trails.