Minnesota State Parks along the North Shore

From Gooseberry to Grand Portage, the eight State Parks are quintessential North Shore. The parks encompass some of the the most striking natural resources in the area. Stop at as many State Parks as you can. It is the most delightful, and easiest way to explore the shore. The parks are listed southwest [closest to Duluth] to northeast, ending at the border with Canada.

covid-19 update
know the “key three:”
  1. Plan ahead. Buy your vehicle permit in advance, and check for any current visitor alerts.

  2. Arrive prepared. Buildings may be closed. Download maps in advance, and bring everything you might need

  3. Follow the rules. Continue to follow all COVID-related guidance, and practice social distancing — even outdoors. Follow all signs, and dispose of your trash properly or pack it home.

The 8 North Shore State Parks

Gooseberry Falls State Park

Waterfalls, river, forest and Lake Superior shoreline with access to all via hiking, walking [accessible], and cross-country ski trails plus it is an end point of the Gitchi Gami paved bike trail and has access to the state snowmobile trail. Other highlights include Civilian Conservation Corps buildings, a great visitor center, and it is a state wayside rest area so free parking at the Visitor Center.

Split Rock Lighthouse State Park

Obviously it’s all about the lighthouse! The MN Historical Center runs a great visitor center with exhibits, tours and a short film. The state park is all the land surrounding the lighthouse and has great hiking trails, a covered picnic pavilion, and in the winter the trails are dedicated to Fat Bikes.

Tettegouche State Park

Lakeside, riverside, inland lakes, waterfalls and hikes along Lake Superior up, up, up along the river and adjoining forest lands. Plus an extra cool historic camp with cabin rental available.

George Crosby Manitou State Park

Where to go for peace and quiet. This park is 14 miles off Highway 61 and surrounds the Manitou river with hiking, rustic hike-in campsites and picnicking.

Temperance River State Park

Amazing river gorges that start a few feet inland from the highway, waterfalls, two foot bridges, hiking, a cobblestone river mouth, camping and hiking.

Cascade River State Park

Excellent hiking and cross country ski trails plus trails that climb Lookout Mountain, a quick 1/4-mile loop up and over the river from the highway, and the cascades that are the namesake of the river.

Judge Magney State Park

Another quiet state park, but with easier access. Home to the Devil’s Kettle, the cauldron that gulps up half the river and takes it to an unknown destination. Hike alongside and high above the river along a great hiking trail [lots of steps though!].

Grand Portage State Park

Highest waterfall partially in MN, it plunges 120-feet down the international border river, Pigeon River. Fabulous visitor center introduces and share the local Aniishinaabe culture. Yes, you can see Canada from here.

Questions? Click on each park to get an overview of what it has to offer and specifics about visitor center hours and amenities, maps, historic sites, waterfalls, and recreational opportunities.

Scroll down to learn about what permits are required, where, when and how you can include your pet, camping and firewood details, what you need to know about fishing, and about cross-country ski and snowmobile trails and licenses.

Minnesota State Parks Along the North Shore
  • Permits

    To enter any of the State Parks, a vehicle permit is required. Permits are currently $35 per year or $7 per day and are available for purchase at each park. Annual permits give everyone in the vehicle unlimited access to all Minnesota State Parks. Activities within the park are generally free of charge.

  • Camping

    Reservations required

    Same-day reservations now available

    All campsites in Minnesota state parks and recreation areas now require a reservation before they may be occupied. We strongly recommend you make your reservations before leaving home, because cell phone coverage and wi-fi can be unpredictable at some parks.

    A non-refundable reservation fee ($10.00 for call center/$7.00 for web) is charged for each advance reservation. There is no reservation fee for same-day campsite reservations. The reservation fee (if applicable) and camping fees for the entire length of stay must be paid when the reservation is made.

    For those who prefer to be spontaneous, we offer same-day reservations with no reservation fee, whether you’re booking your site from home, from the road, or even from the park. Reserve a site online Friday morning and be camping in it that same night!

    Campsites vary from secluded backpack, and kayak sites, to tent and RV sites.  Cascade River and Gooseberry Falls State Parks have rustic group camps available which offer tables, fire rings, toilets and a water source. Tettegouche also has cabins rentals.
    View Campgrounds »
    Reservations »

    Campsites at state forests remain 100% first-come, first-served.

  • Pets

    Pets are welcome in Minnesota’s state parks, as long as they are kept on a leash six feet or shorter and are personally attended at all times. Only service animals are allowed in state park buildings, lodging, cabins, camper cabins, yurts, tipis, on tours, or in beach areas.

  • Firewood

    Burning non-local firewood can spread invasive species, and it’s against Minnesota state law. Gathering firewood is also not permitted, as it disrupts the forest and soil cycle. Always buy your firewood at the park, or from an approved local vendor.

  • Fishing

    When fishing in waters entirely within state parks, anglers must comply with Minnesota fishing laws and rules. Minnesota residents can fish without a fishing license in most Minnesota state parks, including ice fishing.

  • Geocaching

    Geocaching is allowed in Minnesota state parks, state recreation areas and waysides managed by the DNR. All caches placed in these locations require a signed permit prior to placement. Download permit applications and geocaching guidelines, or pick them up at the park office.

  • Skiing

    When using groomed trails in parks, skiers 16 years of age and older, must have a valid Minnesota Ski Pass in their possession. Ski passes are $10 daily, $25 for one-year and $70 for three-years. You will need your date of birth, driver’s license, and credit card (Discover, MasterCard, Visa) to buy a ski pass online or over the phone. There is an additional convenience fee for online or telephone sales.

    Locations you can buy a ski pass. It will be helpful to know that from Duluth to the Caribou Falls Wayside Rest just past mile marker 70 is St. Louis County and north of that is Cook County, while Duluth is in St. Louis County.

  • Snowmobiling

    Snowmobiles in state parks can be operated only on designated trails or posted areas. A snowmobile state trail sticker is required for all snowmobiles operating on state or grant-in-aid trails. Details and fees info here.

  • Snowshoeing

    Snowshoeing is allowed anywhere in state parks except on groomed trails or where posted.

sparkling wintry lake superior and ice sheets stacked on north shore

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