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camping and campgrounds on the north shore

Tips for Finding the Best North Shore Campgrounds

Most of northeastern Minnesota is public forest land dotted with lakes, crisscrossed with forest roads and sprinkled with campgrounds. The attraction here for campers includes virgin pine, roaring waterfalls, clear lakes, soaring eagles, and majestic moose. North Shore campgrounds include federal and state forest, state park, municipal and private.

Whether you’re an outdoor adventurer or a road tripping RVer, the North Shore offers a diverse range of landscapes that will leave you awe-struck. Get ready to sit under starlit skies, wake up to the sounds of nature, and create memories around the campfire. Pack your gear and get ready to explore the North Shore, where serenity and adventure await.

But with so many campgrounds to choose from, how do you find the perfect spot to pitch your tent or park your RV? Let us help. Whether you're looking for a basecamp to explore the shore, opportunities to hike, fish, kayak, or simply sit around a campfire and stargaze, there is a North Shore Campground for you.

Types of North Shore Campgrounds

When it comes to camping on the North Shore, you’ll be spoiled by choices. This area is home to a wide variety of campgrounds, each offering its own unique features and amenities. Whether you prefer a rustic, back-to-nature experience or something with all the comforts of home, there’s a campground on the North Shore that’s perfect for you.

The most rugged adventurer can choose a wilderness canoe camping trip in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. At one million acres, it might feel a little intimidating. That’s okay, the area has several outfitters that can provide as much or as little gear, directions, food and canoes as you’d like.

For a rustic, but less daunting vacation, federal and state forest campgrounds offer rustics sites, many on lakes. Bring a kayak, go fishing, take a swim. Then drive to nearby attractions and towns for the day before returning to dinner over the campfire.

Want to be in the heart of it all? Choose a municipal or private campground and pitch a tent or plug in your trailer. The North Shore now boasts a year-round glampground, too! Walk out for morning pastries and coffee. Take a hike or bike ride right from your site. Take in live music and amble back in the evening. As a bonus, many of these campgrounds are on Lake Superior!

All but one of the State Parks are on Lake Superior, too and 7 of the 8 North Shore State Parks have campgrounds. From rustic hike-in camping at Crosby-Manitou to full amenity RV sites at Split Rock, state park campgrounds are tidy, with sites in the woods, on rivers and offer kayak sites on Lake Superior. The campgrounds tend to be inland less than a mile from the shore so you get both the woods and the lake experience. Plus state parks have excellent trail systems and interesting visitor centers.

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Tips for Finding Your Favorite North Shore Campground

Before you head out, here are a few tips to ensure a smooth and memorable camping trip. Make a reservation or have a back-up plan. Municipal and private campgrounds can book months in advance while state parks, state forest and federal campground have some reservable sites and some first-come, first-served. Weekends are busiest!

Pack essentials for your North Shore camping trip. Spend some time and see what amenities are offered and what can be found nearby. Remember the North Shore is made up of very small towns, so businesses may close earlier than you expect. Gas stations have a surprising number of handy items. Temperatures vary by up to 20-degrees in the summer. It is colder by Lake Superior and warmer inland. Pack clothing that can be layered to adjust to changing temps. And don’t forget bug spray, sunscreen, and a car phone charger (you may not have electricity!).

Take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with campground rules. Always be sure to douse your campfire. Pour buckets of water over the embers until there is no smoldering. Be aware of your surroundings and keep an eye out for wildlife. Don’t leave food out. It may not be a bear, but chipmunks and squirrels love your treats, too. Before heading into the wilderness or on a backcountry hike, let someone know your route, itinerary and estimated return time.

Here's your checklist for choosing the best North Shore campground for you.

Campground Location - pick which of the 10 North Shore towns you want most want to explore, then choose if you want to be on Lake Superior or on an inland river or lake. Conside how close the campground is to your desired activities.

Campground Type / Amenities - what are your must haves for north shore camping? Do you need electrical hook-up, running water, hiking trails, boat access? Make your list!

Campground Size - Consider the size and layout of the campground. Are you looking for a cozy, intimate setting or a larger campground with more facilities and activities? Think about your comfort level and camping style when making your decision.

Plan Ahead - Be sure to make reservations well in advance, especially if you're planning to visit during peak season. Popular campgrounds along the North Shore can fill up quickly, so don't leave your camping fate to chance. Tip - visit other campgrounds on this trip so you can plan more North Shore camping.

Whether you choose to camp at one of the state parks or venture into the wilderness of Superior National Forest, you'll find that the North Shore offers a camping experience that's both thrilling and rejuvenating. So, pack your camping gear, grab your sense of adventure, and get ready to uncover the hidden gems of the North Shore. The great outdoors awaits you.

Bonus tip: Go on a waterfall tour! Whether rushing from rain, or ice covered from freezing nights, the North shore has spectacular waterfalls. Find a guide to North Shore waterfalls you can drive by, big falls, little falls and waterfalls near you.


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