The 25 Best Campgrounds Within Two Hours of Minneapolis
Welcome to the part of the year that includes sunny weather and breezy afternoons! Or at least excludes frozen water of any kind falling from the skies… We’re excited to get out of our plush coats and eat our ice cream while sweating in tank tops. Or maybe sit on a dock and let fish nibble our toes while watching the sunset. The best option that we can think of, however, is camping. It’s a great way to bond with family, friends, or both.
If you’re looking to go camping soon (or in the next year) but the four-hour drive to the Boundary Waters isn’t you’re cup of tea, we’ve found the 25 Best Campgrounds within Two Hours of Minneapolis just for you! There are tons of options for vacationing out of or near your vehicle. Hopefully, this can help you make a quick decision on where to go and allow you to have more time relaxing and planning what to do while you’re vacationing. Before you head out, make sure you check out 10 Tips On Packing Your Car.
Wanna have some fun in the car? Here are our favorite road trip games:
This campsite is very popular during the winter. During the nights, visitors can stay in campsites, cabins, or yurts and when the sun comes up you can go cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or winter hiking. Nearby are plenty of golf courses and museums. During the summer there are picnic areas and shelters to enjoy and courts to play volleyball and horseshoes. You can also bring your own canoe or kayak to go out onto the water, a beautiful activity during the fall!
Afton State Park
6959 Peller Avenue South
Hastings, MN 55033
Group Camp: $50 – $250 per night
Walk-in Campsite: $15 – $23 per night
Yurt: $50 – $60 per night
Cabin: $55+ per night Learn more about Afton State Park
Lake Maria State Park is for those who are more interested in a lightly challenging camping experience. It’s about an hour away from Minneapolis, making the trip there easy but far enough you feel away from everyday life. Campsites and cabins are about a one-mile hike from where you’ll park your car. Walking and hiking trails are forested and winding, one even brings you on a wooden trail through a marsh. Vault toilets are available and flush toilets are in the Trail Center. During the winter there is a frozen pond you can skate next to the Trail Center. Lake Maria State Park is also known to have a variety of wildlife and is perfect for bird watching.
This is a campground near the St Croix River with history! Campsites are well spread out, making the visitors feel almost as though they are alone with Mother Nature. You can participate in maple syruping or watch trumpeter swans, along with many other birds that are either migrating or nesting. Geocachers will be interested in visiting Wild River State Park. Wild River State Park prides itself on having a geocache puzzle so difficult that it is supposedly even harder to find than the Winter Carnival Medallion.
Interstate State Park has around 100 drive-ins, RV, and electric sites combined. There are endless activities for all: interesting geological formations such as glacial potholes, rapids for kayakers, cliffs to climb, and an abundance of wildflowers. This is the perfect park and campground to visit if you want to enjoy the views and have the option to relax or adventure. The usual amenities are available to visitors; showers, toilets, picnic areas, and a seasonal dump station.
This beautiful 2,165 acres, well-maintained park reserve is only half an hour away from Minneapolis. Vehicle permits are required for every vehicle upon entrance, but it’s not too pricy. Canoeing, kayaking, and other non-motorized boating are allowed, as is swimming. There is an archery range, twisting trails for hiking and riding horses, and a play area for children. Picnic areas for day use are accessible. Dogs are allowed inside the park but there are restrictions so make sure to look into the details if you’re thinking about bringing Fido with you.
Lake Elmo Park Reserve
1515 Keats Avenue North
Lake Elmo, MN 55042
Daily Vehicle Permit: $5
Shelter: $100 per night Learn more about Lake Elmotweet
William O’Brien State Park : Marine, MN
This campground offers a variety of outdoor activities such as fishing, canoeing, and skiing. It’s pleasant and relaxing sitting next to the St Croix River or on Lake Alice; and you won’t have to do so without your phone if you don’t want, because some areas of the campground have Wi-Fi for your comfort. Another perk of this campground is that equipment for a variety of activities is available to be checked out for free by visitors, making this a great place to try new things. William O’ Brien State Park is truly on the best campgrounds within two hours of Minneapolis.
If you’re looking for a camping trip with a lot of educational elements then we recommend Carver Park Reserve. It has areas for your dog to run around free of a leash and play areas for your children to do so as well. There are at least six programs for nature education in the area and history exploration at the Grimm Farm Historic Site among other options. This park reserve is open year-round, so whether you prefer boating, geocaching, sledding, or snowmobiling, you have options here. The Lake Auburn campground in Carver Park Reserve is available for reservations either online or by phone.
Here is a highly rated campground that is not only well managed and maintained, but also only half an hour away from Minneapolis. There are over 200 sites and of those, 98 of them have electric hookups. A lot of areas here are wheelchair accessible. Flush toilets and showers are nearby all of the sites. If you’re hoping to go camping but don’t have an RV or tent, five furnished cabins with electricity, heating, and ceiling fans are available.
*photo credit: Three Rivers Park District
2309 Baker Park Road
Maple Plain, MN 55359
Non-electric: $21 per site, daily
Electrical service: $26 – $29 per site, daily
Cabin: $70 per cabin, daily Learn more about Baker Campground
The Cleary Lake Regional Park has two campgrounds: Red Pine and Basswood. You can reserve a tent site or one of the two RV sites with full hookups up to a year in advance. The regional park these campgrounds are in has tons of activities year-round, similar to a few other campgrounds in this region of Minnesota. They do, however, make themselves unique by having skijoring and dog sledding in the winter on a 1.5-mile-long trail.
The land here is wooded and lake-ridden, which makes it feel more than just half an hour south of Minneapolis. There is a laundry facility, onsite caretaker, picnic tables, fire rings, and restrooms with showers. The West Camping Loop has Wi-Fi for your convenience and the park’s Visitor Center has educational programs and displays to enjoy. Take your little ones for an educational day trip or stay the night to get away from the hubbub of the city.
This giant park has an abundance of campsites for tents, RVs, and cabins. The picnic area has an enclosed picnic shelter, playground, volleyball court, and more. Your campground is near a swimming beach so make sure to pack your swimwear and sunscreen. One of the most interesting aspects of this campground are the canoe sites which are only accessible by watercraft. It might be more difficult to bring your stuff, but it’s definitely something worth trying out.
St. Croix Bluffs Regional Park
10191 Saint Croix Trail South
Hastings, MN 55033
Cabin: $55+ per night
Tent: $15 – $23 per night
Group: $50 – $250 per night Learn more about St Croix
Because of its history of being on a fur-trading route, this campsite is near a small museum dedicated to the memory of the industry at that time. Perfect for history lessons on the area! Among the typical outdoor camping activities, Sandy Lake offers a variety of fish and birds, making it alluring for anglers and birdwatchers alike. There are multiple overnight choices for your stay here: walk-in sites, group camping, and cabins.
Wooded and secluded, Moose Lake State Park’s campground is around two hours from the Twin Cities. It’s got great reviews; the only complaints are that sometimes you hear a hum from the highway. The silver lining is the easy access to and from the highway. There is a wheelchair-accessible fishing pier, beach for swimming, playground, and picnic area with space for sports. Showers, toilets, and rental boats are all available for visitors.
This campground is in a park rich with history and wildlife. The French fur trade flourished here because the St Louis River is directly next to it. A lot of animals are in this area during the winter and there are even more are to be found during the summer. The park itself suggests that trailblazers visit because of the beautiful hiking areas that can be appreciated. The other unique factor of this park is the swinging bridge that suspends you above the St Louis River.
This resort has a golf course and heated pool, both of which are very popular and well maintained. The trails and beautiful sights to be explored will have you waking up early so you can fit in as much as possible. The misty and picturesque golf course is an early morning treat that you can get a sneak peek of now if you check out their Instagram. Fire pits are provided in every campsite, hookups are available for RVers, and there are outdoor restrooms nearby.
This campground has drive-in and walk-in sites, both of which are easy to get to and either open or wooded. It’s a beautiful campground with a rustic feel. If you’re interested in plant life, there is a wildflower garden with a colorful assortment of wildflowers, one of which being the endangered dwarf trout lily that is only found here. In fact, the reason this park has boardwalks for trails is in an effort to protect the blossom from being stepped on or disturbed while still allowing people to view them.
This campsite is known for, if you haven’t already guessed, the site of Mystery Cave. Mystery Cave is the longest cave in Minnesota and it’s only two hours away from Minneapolis. The cave has seven tour options, one being the Flashlight Tour: a unique experience you’ll want to participate in if you’re not afraid of the dark. If you’re planning on going here for the cave, make sure to pack good shoes and warm clothes regardless of the time of year because the cave is a constant 48°F. There are around 100 campsites, some electric and 55 for people who want to bring their horses with them for the 17-mile horse trail.
This 2,733 acres park has over 100 drive-in campsites and a collection of other ways to stay the night. A visit here can give you several different levels of difficulty for hiking and a relaxing time on a sandy beach or swimming in the water. During the winter there is a warming house available for visitors who need to warm up after hiking, snowshoeing, or cross-country skiing in the frigid weather.
This park and campgrounds are exceptionally relaxing and tranquil. If you’re looking for a space to get away from the stressors in your life, this might be a good fit for you. Colored with wildflowers in the spring and the rusty range of reds and oranges in the autumn guarantee you won’t get bored with the view here. It’s about two hours away, there are vault toilets, and it has 20 drive-in sites and two group sites.
Visitors can learn about the history of the area through the educational programs available to everyone here. Vault and flush toilets are in the campgrounds here, as are seasonal showers. The one group campsite has a screened-in picnic area and a hand pump for water. There are over 50 drive-in campsites surrounded by forest. The one cabin at Crow Wing State Park’s campsite, unfortunately, does not allow pets.
The Mille Lacs Kathio State Park is known for its wildlife and history. There is a fire and observation tower that visitors can climb that climbs 100 feet into the air. It offers you a view that you cannot get at any of the other campgrounds in the two-hour radius of Minneapolis. The park is open year-round, making it a popular place for winter and summer activities alike. With 70 drive-in sites and 3 pull-through sites, it’s a great option for camping near or in your vehicle.
This park is smaller than most other state parks, but it is described as being quiet and worth coming back. Its wooded campsites are abundant but there are only two bathroom buildings in the park. Always remember to bring insect repellant when you’re camping in cool areas near bodies of water because you’ll be bitten frequently otherwise. Especially bring bug spray if you come here to sit outside and see the handful of albino deer that are sighted and fawned over by guests.
There is a large variety of options for your sleeping arrangements should you decide to embark on a two-hour drive and stay in Flandrau State Park’s campgrounds. Visitors can go geocaching or participate in a variety of water activities including fishing and swimming at the beach. Don’t forget your swimsuits! There are plenty of things to do within one mile of the campgrounds, so exploring the area is encouraged!
Glacial Lakes State Park is scenic and easily navigable. There are fun and interesting things and activities to try out with the family. This campground is two and a half hours away from the Twin Cities, but it is well-rated and seemed worth the inclusion. Campers can take their boat out on the lake (electric motors only); eat on a porch overlooking a lake, or go horseback riding.
There are many places to stay in this park. Group campsites can hold up to 128 people, making it a great place for church or family gatherings. A gift shop is nearby, as is a grocery store and restaurants. Feel free to play volleyball next to the swimming beach or relax while fishing on the fishing pier. Whether you’re looking to find a place to be for a day or stay the night, make sure you call ahead and check availability!