Top Camping Spots for a Fall Getaway


Written by Laura Beier

If you’re trying to squeeze in one more camping trip before the first frost, or want to plan a trip for when it warms back up, here are some scenic suggestions in Minnesota that are close by and gorgeous in the fall!

Afton State Park

Just a 25-minute drive from downtown St. Paul, this park is filled with 20 miles of hiking trails, four miles of paved biking trails, and five miles of horseback riding trails. There are 28 rustic sites, along with canoe and group sites, and a few cabins and yurts, providing all sorts of accommodation. With gorgeous views of bluffs overlooking the St. Croix River, lush forests, and sandy beach areas, Afton State Park is the perfect way to get out of the city without venturing too far.  


Lake Maria State Park

Located between Minneapolis and St. Cloud, this state park is filled with remote lakes and ponds, a maple, oak, and basswood forest, rolling terrain, and the Blanding’s turtle–one of Minnesota’s threatened species. Identify it by looking for bright yellow spots as you hike along 14 miles of trails, or ride horseback on six miles of designated paths. With only 17 backpack sites, two group sites, and three camper cabins, Lake Maria State Park is never too crowded, and the perfect place to relax in the Minnesota wilderness.


Scenic State Park

The crystal clear lakes and virgin pines make it clear where this peaceful wilderness area northwest of Duluth got its name. There are tons of options for camping, with 93 drive-in sites, 23 electric sites, backpack and canoe sites, and even two wheelchair-accessible sites. Hike along 14 miles of trails, or snowmobile in winter along 10 miles of designated trails. The Chase Point Trail, running between Coon and Sandwick Lakes, offers a nice breeze and very few bugs.

Jay Cooke State Park

A great destination for hiking fanatics, this park—near Duluth—has over 50 miles of trails for hiking, biking, and backpacking. Famous sights include vibrant colors in the fall, which can be seen from the signature swinging suspension bridge above the St. Louis River. There’s also the gorge at Thomson Dam and the historic cemetery to explore, six miles of horseback riding trails, and over 30 miles of cross country skiing and snowshoeing trails in winter. Stay in any of the 79 drive-in sites, 21 electric sites, four walk-in sites, or one of the five cabins for a getaway in pure Minnesota wilderness.

Split Rock Lighthouse State Park

While this park is known for its historic lighthouse overlooking Lake Superior, it offers much more than just that. Check out six miles of self-guided hiking trails, 12 miles of other hiking trails with sections that run along the lakeshore, or part of the Superior Hiking Trail that winds through the park. This park is a bit farther from the Twin Cities – just over a 3-hour drive – but the sights and the uniqueness make up for it.