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5 Northern Minnesota Lakes Every Camper Should Know About

I recently found myself lounging next to a sparkling lake in northern Minnesota. As the gentle breeze moved my hammock back and forth, I gazed out over the water and decided that Minnesota just might have the best lakes for camping.

After all, would you expect anything less in the Land of 10,000 Lakes? While Minnesota lakes can be found all over the state, if you want to visit a magical place filled with wild forests, abundant wildlife and tumbling waterfalls, Northern Minnesota should be at the top of your list.

Northern Minnesota
Amanda Watson

With thousands of lakes and campgrounds to choose from in Northern Minnesota, finding the perfect place to camp is no simple task. So I’ve narrowed it down for you. Whether you like fishing, paddling, or simply relaxing next to the water, here are five awesome Northern Minnesota lakes perfect for camping.

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If you want a big lake with plenty of room for boating and fishing…go to Lake Winnibigoshish!

Better known as Big Winnie or Lake Winnie, this large lake is the perfect playground for water sport enthusiasts. With plenty of shoreline for launching your boat, and a notable population of Walleye (some of the best around according to the locals), Lake Winnibigoshish is a top destination for boaters and anglers alike.

Northern Minnesota
Amanda Watson

Located amid 1.6 million acres of national forest in Northern Minnesota, the undeveloped shoreline of the lake offers a pristine, peaceful place to relax.

There’s no shortage of camping options on Lake Winnie. For family fun try the Nodak Lodge and Resort at the south end of the lake, or the Winnie Dam Campground near the output of the upper Mississippi River.

Northern Minnesota

In addition, the lake also has more rustic camping options: choose from five national forest campgrounds at the north end of the lake with convenient water access and plenty of fishing docks.

If you want a rustic get-away with easy access to city conveniences…go to Cass Lake.

Located only 20 minutes from the charming city of Bemidji, Cass Lake offers a best-of-both-world’s feel. Spend the day exploring the forest and paddling the lake, and the evening strolling through downtown Bemidji. Here you’ll find local shops, a thriving restaurant scene, and even a hip new brewery. Don’t forget to visit Paul and Babe the Big Blue Ox at the waterfront park.

Northern Minnesota
Amanda Watson

When you’re sick of city life, head back to the lake for a waterfront campfire. Enjoy the sandy beaches, excellent fishing and forested bike path while soaking up every last bit of nature.

Northern Minnestoa
Amanda Watson

Tucked in the heart of Chippewa National Forest, Cass Lake has a variety of campgrounds on the shore, including a cluster of four rustic national forest campgrounds at the south end of the lake and another up near the Knutson Dam.

For more resort style camping, check out the Stony Point Resort in the south, and the Chippewa Pines Resort at the northern end of the lake.

If you like lighthouses, waterfalls, and rocky beaches…go to Lake Superior’s North Shore

It should come as no surprise that the largest freshwater lake in the world is an awesome place for camping. Minnesota’s North Shore hugs the edge of Lake Superior providing nearly 150 miles of prime waterfront for visitors to enjoy.

A journey up the north shore features breathtaking cliffs and beaches amid a backdrop of unspoiled wilderness. Rivers and streams make their way to the lake, creating abundant waterfalls along the way, while dozens of trails allow visitors to experience the North Shore’s natural beauty up close.

Northern Minnesota
Amanda Watson

Campgrounds are plentiful along the north shore. Most notable are the eight state parks that dot the shore and offer hundreds of campsites.


The state parks encompass some of the most striking natural and man-made features of the area. Features like the incredible gorges at Temperance River, the High Falls at Tettegouche and Grand Portage, the Devil’s Kettle at Judge Magney, and of course, the historic lighthouse at Split Rock Lighthouse State Park.

If you want to go boat camping in Northern Minnesota…check out Lake Kabatogema

Paddle or motor along the same routes used by early French trappers, traders and explorers on Lake Kabetogama in northern Minnesota. Part of the waterways that make up Voyageurs National Park, the lake is an excellent spot for boat camping. Dozens of islands dot the lake, and the far north shore can only be reached by water. As a result, the opportunities here for remote, waterfront camping are numerous. You can reserve a boat-in campsite by visiting

Northern Minnesota
Amanda Watson

In addition to the fantastic waterside campsites, visitors are sure to enjoy a wildlife encounter. Keep an eye out for wildlife along the shore. From bear and bald eagles to otters, wolves and moose, this remote lake is teaming with animals, birds, and of course, lots of fish!

If you want to get away from it all…go to Coon & Sandwick Lake

Deep in the northern lakes region lie a pair of lakes surrounded by a dense evergreen forest. Here the night is dark and star-filled, and if you listen carefully you can hear the call of loons.

Northern Minnesota
Amanda Watson

Both lakes are within the borders of Scenic State Park. This ensures that the shoreline will remain undeveloped and the wilderness preserved for generations. Considered a haven for birders and wildlife enthusiasts, Scenic State Park is home to more than 40 species of animals. While the wildlife is draw for many, others come to walk among the majestic virgin red pine trees that line the shore.

Northern Minnesota
Amanda Watson

The campground has over 100 campsites, modern bathroom facilities, a swimming beach, boat launch and fishing docks.

SEE ALSO: Your Ultimate Maine Lighthouse Road Trip Guide

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