National Parks / Natural World
Itasca State Park Park Rapids
Where is it at?
Itasca State Park
36750 Main Park Drive
The North entrance is 21 miles south of Bagley on Hwy 92 and 200.
GPS is Lat 47.194648 and Long -95.165012
Where are we going today?
Ever wanted to walk across the mighty Mississippi? It may be a huge river, but it has to start somewhere, and it just so happens it starts in Itasca State Park!
That also means that it's 2,552 mile journey to the Gulf of Mexico starts small, and it a great place to tick that little adventure off your bucket list!
Itasca State Park covers more tan 32,000 acres, and features over 100 lakes so there are plenty of places to take the family, and get back to nature/
There are also fascinating attractions to see within the Itasca State Park, not just the general park activities.
Kids can be amazed by the towering pine trees at Preacher's Grove, or visit the historic Itasca Indian Cemetery. There is also Wegmann's Cabins, which is just one of the landmarks of a time gone by.
If you fancy getting active, there are plenty of trails and spaces to hike, and with all those lakes you won't be short of a fishing spot either!
Naturalist programs are available all year round, and wildlife is just abundant.
Kids - what species can you spot! Perhaps you might see the cheeky herons or cormorants, or those incredibly fast hummingbirds. If you are lucky, you must spot a mischievous beaver, porcupine, gentle deer, or even the black bear or wolves!
There is so much history within the park too, it's worth immersing yourself whilst you're there to really get a sense of it all. At least 8,000 years ago there were Indian hunters in the area, and a century ago there were explorers making their way through the land.
If you loved Itasca State Park so much and wanted to spend a few more days at the park, you can camp under the starts or enjoy a goods night sleep at the historic Douglas Lodge or cabins.
When can we go?
8am - 10pm Memorial Weekend to October. Rest of the year 9am - 3:30pm
Groceries are available at the north entrance and Lake Alice. If you are coming for a day trip make sure to pack a picnic and enjoy some family time together!
There is also a full-service restaurants at the Douglas Lodge, as well as Headwaters Cafe..
Any Top Tips?
You can organize tours of Lake Itasca if you want! You can also rent boats, kayaks, bikes, canoes - all at the Lake Itasca boat access. .
Can I get one of those?
There are 3 Nature Stores where you can pick up some fun items as well as supplies. The Jacob V. Brower Visitor Center is open all year round. .
What people are saying?
by Kathy Schlosser
Beautiful anytime drive through the park and many activities in the Summer. Short and easy walk from parking area to head of Mississippi. Casual biking is made a bit difficult by the narrow roads and slightly hilly landscape...Some nice hiking trails, just wish more (level ones) were along the lake. Fall leaf-peeping is Wonderful from high atop the park's fire tower!
Update 9/15/2014.... New and safer biking trails just opened on south side of park... Yes!!! Thank you!
by R Anders
Check the Park's website before you go - there are lots of daily activities for adults and families. We got to go fishing with provided fishing rods and a ranger to show us how and make boats out of bark and pinecones to float at the headwaters. If you're going to visit the headwaters of the Mississippi, bring a swimsuit for the kids and a towel. You're going to want to wade and play and it's a great stop on a hot day. Anywhere else bring a LOT of bug spray. The mosquitoes and the horse flies are numerous. But easily fended off by bug spray....Read More
by Kemal Ozturk
We went there as a whole family to see the Headwaters of Mississippi. We had seen the end of Mississippi River 23 years ago; now we are here at the beginning...
by Bob Miller
Great MN. State Park! Pristine wilderness- like surroundings. Headwaters of the Mississippi. What's not to like? The cry of the Loon & Walleye Pike.
by Ryan Cox
Overall one of my favorite places in the world. Nothing beats waking up in the tent, heading down to the headwaters, and then hiking around to all the great sites to see.
by R Anders
Check the Park's website before you go - there are lots of daily activities for adults and families. We got to go fishing with provided fishing rods and a ranger to show us how and make boats out of bark and pinecones to float at the headwaters. If you're going to visit the headwaters of the Mississippi, bring a swimsuit for the kids and a towel. You're going to want to wade and play and it's a great stop on a hot day. Anywhere else bring a LOT of bug spray. The mosquitoes and the horse flies are numerous. But easily fended off by bug spray. The views of the unspoiled wilderness are amazing, the hiking trails are fun for both kids and adults. There's a swimming beach, several play grounds, a wilderness drive, boat and bike rentals, miles of hiking paths and some great historical sites to learn about the early settlers, the native peoples and how and why the park was developed.