On the first two weekends of June, check out a new park, trail or fishing hole at no cost. As she drew the boat closer, an eagle hopped onto a downed tree, where it sat for a while before flapping away. A lot of people are surprised that the Mississippi River begins in Minnesota. What are some things to do in Itasca State Park? "I've actually had people argue with me about it. In the southeast corner of the state, scratch the surface for a glimpse of splendor. There are a number of entrances. It truly is a great state park to explore. Lake Itasca. Lt. Zebulon Pike said it was Leech Lake, Lewis Cass said it was Cass Lake and Giacomo Beltrami said it was Lake Julia. This is where the Mississippi River begins its 2,552-mile journey to the Gulf of Mexico. A lot of people are surprised the Mississippi River starts in Minnesota. Be careful when many people, especially children, are using the bike path, whose ups and downs often obscure oncoming traffic. Here are the top five. These Native American grave sites are now protected by law and local nations provide direction on its maintenance. You’ll find several interpretative signs on the way up, which explains all the different strata or layers. Kids love to run across the rocks that mark the start of the Mississippi. I’d love to explore this area. Thank you…I’m all about history and discovering how little I know about the state I’ve lived in for the past 27 years. Here are some of the most recommended things to do in Itasca State Park: Zorbaz On Gull Lake. I’ve really only been to the Mall of America, so I guess I’ve got some more to explore. Explore 117 acres of swamp, trout stream, marsh walk, shelter, woods and prairie at Sucker Creek Preserve. Bear Paw Campground is right next to Lake Itasca and Pine Ridge Campground is set back in the woods. What a great state park! Love the fact about the red pines and the controlled fires. While he claimed it was an accident, Rust was tried for murder and acquitted – although McMullen’s friends were not convinced it was an accident. Getting there: It's 3½ to 4 hours north of the Twin Cities. Itasca State Park; Tamarac and Hamden Slough National Wildlife Refuges; Trails & Parks. Learn how your comment data is processed. While Lake Itasca is well-known as the source of the Mississippi River (a lot of controversy on that topic I’ll save for another time), the park actually contains more than 150 lakes – most of them concealed under the dense forest. Itasca State Park was originally formed by glaciers more than 10,000 years ago. Mary Gibbs was a force of nature fighting to protect nature. A guesthouse overlooking Bear Head Lake is just one of the hideaways in Minnesota state parks. The Aiton Heights Fire Tower Trail includes a great view from the tower. [+] This area within Itasca State Park dates back 8,000 years in what’s known as the Early Eastern Archaic period. It was a little disturbing to learn that 800-year-old Native American burial mounds were partially excavated in the late 1800s at Itasca State Park. Someone ought to assert the rights of the state against such threatened destruction as has been attempted.". Things to do near Itasca State Park on Tripadvisor: See 122 reviews and 678 candid photos of things to do near Itasca State Park in Lake Itasca, Minnesota. Sports rental: By the boat landing, Itasca Sports rents canoes, kayaks, bikes, paddleboats and pontoon boats, and it sells fishing tackle, snacks and basic camping goods. But they also join the pilgrimage to the source of the Mississippi, which draws people from around the world. In 1798, English surveyor David Thompson claimed it was Turtle Lake, near Bemidji. Today, the park totals more than 32,000 acres and includes more than 100 lakes. Trail difficulty levels are easy to moderate for the most part (at least the ones we explored). There's the Douglas Lodge's lady's-slipper china and its original guest book, with such comments as a 1924 entry: "For one who sees nothing but cornfields, the pines are a wonderful treat. The view from the top of the fire tower is a great reward! But as one of the new exhibits notes, Schoolcraft was simply one of the few explorers smart enough to ask someone who knew. Located about four hours northwest of the Twin Cities, Itasca State Park is home to the Mississippi River Headwaters, 45 miles of hiking trails, really tall and really old pine trees (200+ years old), a 100-ft. fire tower you can climb, historical sites, camping, fishing, boating and so much more. Fireplace of States. There are also fascinating attractions to see within the Itasca State Park, not just the general park activities. For your convenience, Itasca Sports rents bikes for you to use on the many paved bike trails that the park has to offer. Great pictures! About 500,000 people visit Itasca State Park annually. MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest. It calls my name! The first female park commissioner in North America, Gibbs stood up to loggers (even threatened her with a gun) to protect the park’s pine trees in 1903 – demanding that they lower the level of the water that had been dammed. Log guest cabins also were built, and people on a budget could stay at the Bear Paw Campground, which still holds the ice house where campers stocked their coolers with lake ice packed in sawdust. Itasca State Park, Lake Itasca: See 506 reviews, articles, and 367 photos of Itasca State Park, ranked No.2 on Tripadvisor among 11 attractions in Lake Itasca. Ha! On the North Arm, it passes the Pioneer Cemetery, the beach and the 1893 ruins and replica of Theodore Wegmann's cabin and general store, where the early settler sold postcards, candy and ice cream to tourists. It was named as a National Natural Landmark in 1965, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. 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