The Mary Gibbs Visitor Center
adjacent to the headwaters features
exhibits on the river’s history and its
cultural importance. Minnesota has
more miles of the Mississippi than any
other state, which include the river’s
most wild and scenic stretches as it
flows north to Bemidji and east through
several large lakes and the Chippewa
Itasca stands out as Minnesota’s
oldest state park, one of its largest at
a massive 32,000 acres, and among
the grandest. The park is home to
a variety of lodging that’s rich in
historic character and similar in style
to national park lodges built in the
early 1900s. Itasca o;ers more than 220
campsites, plus cabins, suites, rooms at
the historic Douglas Lodge and a hostel
in the former park headquarters.
Get your bearings and enjoy hands-on exhibits about loons, forest fires,
logging and wildlife at the Brower
Visitor Center. The scenic 10-mile
Wilderness Drive circles through the
park. For an eagle’s-eye view of the
majestic forest, brave the climb up the
Aiton Heights observation tower.
Narrated boat excursions explore
Lake Itasca, sharing natural history
lessons and pointing out wildlife such
as bald eagles that soar above the water.
You can rent a kayak or canoe to paddle
on the lake, or rent bikes for a 6-mile ride
to the headwaters. Hikers can trek more
than 28 miles of trails around quiet
lakes and bogs, and into forests that
cha;er with birds and squirrels.
Other wildlife sightings can include
o;er, mink and deer. Another highlight
is peaceful Preacher’s Grove, with its
canopy of tall pines.
During the summer, the “Music Under
the Pines” weekend concert series
features an eclectic lineup. For kids, an
array of naturalist programs covers
fun topics from animal tracks to fish
painting. Itasca is also popular for its
beautiful foliage in the fall and its cross-country ski trails in the winter.
Besides preserving the Mississippi’s
birthplace, Itasca State Park anchors
the headwaters region that includes the
88-mile Lake Country Scenic Byway
linking the towns of Park Rapids,
Detroit Lakes and Walker. The area
is ideal for classic resort or camping
vacations. Nearby towns o;er plenty
of places to stay, as well; Park Rapids is
20 miles south of Itasca State Park, and
Bemidji is 30 miles north.
Experience the wonders
of the northwoods;
Our campgrounds &
resorts are dedicated to
catering to your every need.
Crystal clear lakes, serenity of tall
pines, hear the cry of the loon,
watch the flight of an eagle, feel
the tug of a fish on your line...
Visit Itasca State Park —Headwaters of the Mississippi
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