Planning a vacation to Minnesota? Why not try RV camping in Minnesota? With so many gorgeous natural areas to explore, this state is the perfect place for camping, and the many campgrounds with easy access to the cities means you can still get your fill of museums and other attractions while enjoying the RV life.
Of course, you’re going to want some sort of guide for RV camping in Minnesota, particularly if you are new to RVing or if you’ve never been to Minnesota. That’s where this article comes into play.
Below, we’ve given you everything you need to know for an awesome Minnesota RV trip.
Preparing for RV Camping
Obviously, you will need an RV and all the stuff required for RV camping. Those with their own RVs are likely all set, but the many who don’t have RVs of their own will need to turn to Minnesota RV rentals. In this section we discuss choosing an RV and how to pack it.
Choosing the Right RV for Your Needs
Not sure how to choose a rental RV? You’re definitely not the only one. First, decide whether you need your RV delivered or not. Having an RV delivered is a lot easier and narrows your options quite a bit.
Prefer to drive the rig on your own? Think about what type of RV you’re comfortable driving and whether or not your vehicle is strong enough to safely tow a trailer. Also consider what size rig you’d be willing to drive. Knowing these things will help you get a better feel for what you need.
Finally, make sure you pick something that will both fit into the campsite you choose and comfortably sleep everyone in your party. Taking amenities into consideration is also a good idea.
Packing Essentials for a Successful Trip
Many rental RVs will include some camping essentials. Find out what your rental includes and make sure to pack anything you might need that isn’t included. Obviously, this will include your clothes and toiletries, but what else?
Below is a simple packing list to get you started:
- First aid kit
- Bug spray and sunscreen
- Entertainment (books, games, movies, toys for kids)
- Outdoor recreation gear
- Electronics and chargers
- Pots, pans, and dishes
- Paper towels
- Folding chairs
- Bed sheets
- Pet gear
- RV leveling blocks
- Sewer hose and adapter
- Freshwater hose
- RV surge protector
Because this list is so basic, there’s a good chance you’ll need some extras. Not sure what else to consider taking? Be sure to check out this RV packing list.
Considerations for Camping in Minnesota
Knowing the rules before you head into a new state is definitely a good call. While the RVing laws in Minnesota are very similar to the RVing laws in other states, we will lay them out below so you can head into your trip with confidence.
In Minnesota, rigs must not exceed 75 feet in total length (including tow vehicle), 8.5 feet in width, or 13.5 feet in height. Motorhomes and trailers should both be under 45 feet in length. Triple towing is allowed but only on some highways, with the additional tradeoff that the entire rig length mustn’t be more than 60 feet total.
Overnight camping is allowed in some state rest areas, but you will want to check signage to find out which.
Obviously you will need a place to park the RV while you have fun exploring Minnesota, and so you have a place to sleep after each long day of adventure. The good news? There are tons of great campgrounds in the state. From luxury RV resorts and urban campgrounds to state parks and boondocking spots, we’re betting you can find something that suits you perfectly.
Exploring Public Campgrounds in Minnesota
We’ll start by discussing public campgrounds in Minnesota. These are the places to go if you want to escape into nature and save a few bucks in the process. They include state park campgrounds as well as campgrounds run by the National Forest Service.
National Forest Camping
Minnesota is home to not one, but two national forests: Chippewa National Forest and Superior National Forest. Both are beautiful and well worth visiting and exploring, and both offer wonderful camping opportunities.
One of our favorite camping spots in Superior National Forest is Harriet Lake Rustic Campground. Although this camping spot does not have a lot to offer in the way of amenities, it is absolutely gorgeous and provides easy access to the lake, as well as plenty of wild blueberries during the summer. It’s also big-rig-friendly and 100% free!
State Park Camping
State parks in Minnesota are awesome. They offer excellent chances for visitors and locals to get outside and soak up some of the natural beauty that the state has to offer. They’re also home to some excellent campgrounds.
One of our favorite state park campgrounds in the state of Minnesota is Itasca State Park. This park is home to headwaters of the mighty Mississippi River, and it’s the perfect place for fishing, hiking, biking, and more. The campsites in this park can accommodate RVs, and some even have electrical hookups.
Another favorite is Lake Bemidji State Park. This one is a haven for anglers and boaters, as it offers incredibly easy access to an absolutely lovely lake. The swimming beach is perfect in the summertime, and we appreciate the modern bathhouses with free hot showers.
Exploring Private Campgrounds and RV Parks
Not sure state parks and national forests are for you? Why not look into the many private RV parks in Minnesota? Glamping RV resorts are plentiful in this state, and the small and welcoming parks with laundry rooms, clean showers, and dump stations are even more so. You’re sure to find the perfect spot for RV camping in Minnesota amongst them.
One of our favorite private RV parks in Minnesota? Stony Point Resort and Campground. This place has been around since 1939, and for good reason! The campground is absolutely beautiful and features boat rentals, a swimming beach, opportunities for fishing, and a whole lot more. It’s the perfect summer camping destination.
We also really like Wildwood RV Park and Campground near Taylor Falls and the St. Croix River. This one is right by several state parks, but also offers plenty of in-park fun including a playground, mini golf, a heated pool, a game room, and more.
Boondocking in Minnesota
Prefer boondocking rather than campgrounds? Not to worry, there is something for you too. In fact, Minnesota has a few really great boondocking spots.
We especially love the Marcell Dispersed Campsites, which are run by the National Forest Service. Many of these sites cannot be reached by vehicle, but a few can, and they would be perfect for a van or small trailer. They are free to use and have latrines and fire rings.
Researching Campground Options and Making Reservations
We’ve offered a few really great suggestions on where to camp in Minnesota. That said, these are far from the only good options. If you want to know about even more excellent choices for RV camping in Minnesota, be sure to check out The Dyrt, RoverPass, BookOutdoors, Campspot, and Harvest Hosts for some beautiful, unique, and convenient options.
Planning Your Itinerary
At this point, you will want to start thinking about what you will do while RV camping in Minnesota. There are tons of great options, and whether you are staying in Minneapolis, St. Paul, or somewhere outside of the city, we’re certain we will be able to help you find some amazing ways to fill your time.
Features and Attractions in Minnesota
We think scenic byways are a great way to get to know a place. Therefore, we highly recommend starting your Minnesota adventures with a drive along one of the state’s beautiful scenic byways. We especially love the Avenue of Prince Scenic Byway as well as the Glacial Ridge Trail Scenic Byway.
Another thing you really should do? See some of Minnesota’s landmarks, of course! These include the Mall of America (along with the super fun amusement park inside) as well as the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and the Frank B. Kellogg House.
National park sites are another must-see in our opinion. Voyageurs National Park might be hard to reach, but it should not be missed. Grand Portage National Monument is a wonderful place to explore, as is the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area. Want to learn some interesting history? Head to Pipestone National Monument.
Festivals, Fairs, and Events in Minnesota
No trip is complete without at least one local event to round it out. Lucky for you, Minnesota has plenty of amazing annual events to choose from, so adding one to your trip itinerary shouldn’t be a problem.
Some of the best events in Minnesota include the MayDay Parade and Festival in Minneapolis during May, Lumberjack Days in Stillwater during the summer, and the Bayfront Blues Festival in Duluth during August.
Exploring Outdoor Activities
You will without a doubt want to spend some of your time exploring Minnesota’s natural areas. How you go about this is totally up to you. You’ll find opportunities for hiking, biking, fishing, swimming, and a whole lot more, so no matter what you love to do in the great outdoors, you’re going to have an absolute blast.
Hiking, Biking and Nature Trails
Want to hit the trails and explore Minnesota on foot or by bike? You’re in luck because the state has tons of awesome trails zig-zagging through it. Grab your boots or your bike and get ready for some fun in nature!
For hikers, we recommend the trails below:
Meanwhile, we think cyclists might prefer the following trails:
Are you not seeing something here that you love? Try heading over to AllTrails and using the search filters to find something that suits your fancy.
Fishing, Boating, and Water Activities
Water makes everything better, and considering it’s the Land of 10,000 Lakes, you can bet Minnesota has plenty of bodies of water to play in. From fishing to swimming to boating, we’re positive there is a water-based activity available that you will love.
Anglers rejoice, because Minnesota has some of the best fishing spots out there. Red Lake is one of our favorites. This is the largest lake in the state, and while some parts of the lake are not accessible to the general public, there are plenty of areas that are. Here you’ll find the best fishing in May and June, but many also enjoy ice fishing in the winter months. Expect to catch northern pike, walleye, crappie, and more.
Want a beach to play on? Minnesota has a number of fantastic beaches to choose from. Zippel Bay State Park offers two miles of sandy shoreline to play on. The beach area is strewn with driftwood and there are picnic tables available. Other great beaches can be found at Lake Itasca State Park and Iona’s Beach Scientific and Natural Area.
Of course, we must mention Minnesota’s waterfalls as well. These include such beauties as Devil’s Kettle which splits and falls both into the river and, oddly, underground. Other great falls include Beaver River Falls and the magnificent Gooseberry Falls in Gooseberry Falls State Park.
Wildlife Viewing and Photography
You’ll find plenty of fantastic wildlife viewing in the state parks, NPS sites, and national forests we have mentioned so far. You can also find plenty of animals in Carlos Avery State Wildlife Management Area, Minnesota Wildlife Refuge, and Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge, among other such parks.
While in these parks, you can expect to see deer, foxes, raccoons, porcupines, squirrels, birds, and more.
Family-Friendly Activities and Attractions
Bringing the kids RV camping in Minnesota? Many of the sights and attractions we’ve mentioned already would be excellent for families to experience together. That said, we know plenty of other family-friendly options, so if the choices above aren’t your thing, try reading this section for even more top picks.
Historical Sites and Museums
We absolutely love tying some learning into our family trips. And some of the best ways to do that? Historic sites and museums. Fortunately, Minnesota has both!
Our favorite historic site in the state is the aforementioned Pipestone National Monument, where you can learn about the red pipestone quarried by the indigenous people of Minnesota and what it means to their culture.
As far as museums go, we love all of the following:
- Science Museums of Minnesota in St. Paul
- Minneapolis Institute of Art in Minneapolis
- Mill City Museum in Minneapolis
- Minnesota Maritime Art Museum in Winona
- Minnesota Children’s Museum in St. Paul
- Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center in Duluth
- Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Walnut Grove
- SPAM Museum in Austin (this one is very silly)
Amusement Parks, Zoos, and Wildlife Refuges
Amusement parks are another great choice when it comes to family-friendly activities, and Minnesota has a few great ones. First, there is the Nickelodeon Universe in the Mall of America, which is just incredible. We also love Valleyfair in Minneapolis as well as Bunker Beach Water Park in Coon Rapids.
Another good bet? Zoos. The best zoo in Minnesota is the Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley, but we also like Lake Superior Zoo in Duluth, Sea Life Aquarium at Mall of America, and the Great Lakes Aquarium in Duluth.
Safety and Preparedness when RV Camping in Minnesota
Clearly, you will want to put safety first while RV camping in Minnesota. The problem is, many don’t know how to go about it. Obviously you will want to drive safely, pack a first aid kit, and use your common sense. That said, it’s also good to go in with a plan for natural disasters as well as wildlife encounters.
Weather Conditions and Natural Disaster Preparedness
If natural disasters are your biggest worry, Minnesota is actually a pretty great place to be. Compared to the rest of the country, this state has relatively few natural disasters and the vast majority of them involve winter weather, something that won’t be a problem as long as you visit during the warmer months.
So what should you be prepared for? Watch out for wildfires. Pay attention to warnings and get out of the way of fires before they get close. Do your part to prevent fires by heeding burn bans and putting out campfires completely.
Heat waves are another thing to be aware of. Pay attention to the weather forecast and make sure you have a way to run the RV air conditioner on especially hot days. It’s also good to make sure you’re drinking plenty of water and avoiding the outdoors during the hottest parts of the day when heat waves hit.
Wildlife Encounters and Precautions
Minnesota is home to both venomous snakes and large predators such as coyotes, wolves, and black bears. Generally speaking, these animals will leave you alone. That said, it is a good idea to watch your step so you don’t step on snakes, and give them a wide berth when you do see them.
Make noise while hiking to warn animals of your presence and scare them off. If you see a bear, wolf, or coyote, back away slowly. If the animal approaches you, and especially if it chases you, use bear spray to defend yourself.
More Inspiration for Your Minnesota Travels
As you can see, Minnesota is an absolutely wonderful place to go, and RV camping in Minnesota makes it even better. Want more fun ideas to fill your trip? Be sure to check out the links below for more of our favorite things in this amazing state: