Date of Stay: July, 2016
First, I would like to say do not believe the GPS directions from Minneapolis heading North to Banning. Look for the Brown State Park sign. We were directed into the city of Sandstone, which actually took us to the Federal Prison and south most part of the park. After being blocked by two security guards cars, we were questioned and directed to the next exit for Banning State Park. We're still laughing. The park is right off the highway, but it's a rather long and bumpy ride into the campground. The park somewhat small, but is very well maintained and the bathrooms were clean. We also stayed in site 13E, right next to the bathroom trail. There was a vault toilet across the road too. Just as we got there it started to rain, so we could not have a fire and did not experience any bugs. We stopped here halfway to Temperance River, so we did not get to check out the hiking or any activities. We will definitely return as the park was very nice.
Date of Stay: July, 2016
This is our favorite State Park. The new rest stop/visitor station is amazing. Much to see and do inside the visitor station and there is WiFi. The park is very well maintained and the bathrooms are very clean at the visitor station and campground. Due to the heavy rain, the river was running very strong and there was very little beach at the end of the Baptisim River. Hiking is great here, but there was a lot of mud due to the heavy rains. Hiking to Shovel Point is a must for an awesome view. Mt. Trudie, The Cascades, Two Step Falls and the High Falls are always favorite spots. Be sure to visit Palisade Head (3 minutes South) for a breath taking view of the lake. Drive up there, don't park below. Hike to the left of the parking lot for about 5 minutes to see spectacular rock formations. Make reservations early because this campground is full from June through mid-October. We stayed in site 4, which is very long. The fire pit and picnic table were behind our camper making it very private. There is no dump station here, so you will need to go to the town of Silver Bay, about 5 minutes South behind the service station to the left.
Date of Stay: July, 2016
This is one of our top 5 favorite State Parks. The park is very well maintained and the bathrooms are very clean. Due to the heavy rain, the river was unusually high and fierce. Hiking is always great here, but can get a little congested. Bike riding or walking on the Superior trail is highly recommended. Make reservations early because this campground is full from June through mid-October. We stayed in site 37 electric, which is the size of 2 campsites. The fire pit and picnic table are on the opposite side, but we didn't mind due to the amount of space in this site. The campground map does not list that site 19 is a pull-thru site and is large enough to accommodate a big rig. The sites on the lake look wonderful, although, we've never been lucky enough to get one. (Update to the previous review: this is not the only electric State Park on the North Shore. Tettegouche (our favorite) and Cascade River also have electric sites.) There is no dump station here, so you will need to go to the town of Silver Bay, about 20-25 minutes South or to North to Cascade River to dump.
Date of Stay: July, 2015
This campground is very nice with private, well-spaced sites. My site was so long, it was hard to keep the popup straight backing in. My Verizon service was very spotty. As previous post said - GPS tries to take you to the recreation area, not the campground, so follow freeway signs if you come in on Hwy 94. I hiked to an overlook and the swimming beach seemed to be quite active across the lake. Due to poor packing on my part, I did go to the town grocery store. The store was small, but had a good selection and wasn't outrageous. The campground is an easy drive from the Twin Cities. It's sort of a hidden gem that Minnesotan's don't know about. The only downside is that there isn't an office, they don't sell wood and the showers are $.25. I got really speedy the second day. The nice hosts will recommend where to buy wood up the road, but you need cash. Plan ahead for these two inconveniences.
Date of Stay: July, 2015
We had a wonderful time at Jay Cooke State Park. The weather couldn't have been better and the bugs were at a minimum. This year the park is celebrating it's 100-year anniversary, so fun things are planned throughout the year. The swinging bridge, rock formation, woods and hiking are always great at this park. I emailed the park directly because there is an issue with opening the pictures of the sites. I ended up with a completely sunny site next to the bathroom (#48 ). Also, the bathrooms are very old and outdated. They were kept clean, however, there is not a stall for a disabled person to fit in a wheelchair, only railings. We were close to the new office, so we ended up going across the road to use the new facilities. Much to my surprise, the new Park manager emailed me back promptly to let me know the bathrooms are at the top of their list for repair or upgrade. She also said they will look into making site 48 a non-reservable site because it's so small and open. Actually, the first 3 sites used to get a lot of road noise, but since hwy. 23 is closed 1.5 miles down the road they are just wonderful. We stayed in a popup.
Date of Stay: September, 2014
It’s surprising that this campground has not been previously reviewed. It’s a backpack-in campground with 2 Yurts and four, electric with heat camper cabins. The hiking along the St. Croix River was so beautiful in the fall. People at the beach were in swimsuits and dipped their toes in the river. Temperatures in 80’s in late September brought out crowds for day hikes and picnics. The prairie grass and leaves were very colorful. We couldn’t believe how much noise that dry, falling leaves sound when they hit the ground. There are plenty of hiking and biking opportunities at this campground. Flush toilets are available in the visitor center or vault toilets throughout the campground. Note that there are no showers or ice available for purchase. The closest city is Afton, however the address lists Hastings on the website. We stayed in a camping cabin and will return.
Date of Stay: June, 2014
I love Baker Park Campground, but after my last two stays, I have decided I that am better suited for camping here during the week. The park is very large, has everything to do including swimming, boating, biking, and hiking. With that said many people camp in clusters with friends and there are lots of children running around and biking. The campground is buzzing with activity until around 9 or 10 p.m. each night. If you are looking for peace and quiet, this is not the place for you. If this is your thing you will have tons of fun. The campground office is staffed with teenagers who know very little about the park and can't answer most questions about the campground. The park rangers are excellent about patrolling and enforcing the rules and they know more about the campground, so ask them questions. With all the rain, many campsites are muddy and smelly with standing water and muck. People were not happy and had to get creative on how they parked; no one was asked to move. We will be back during the week. It is conveniently located close to the Twin Cities.
Date of Stay: August, 2012
The park is about 15 miles east of North Branch. This is one of the nicest parks we've stayed at that is close to the Twin Cities. The campground is huge, but sites are nicely spaced, large and private. We could barely see our neighbors through the trees. The prairie colors are spectacular and the forest will be colorful in the fall. There are many planned weekend activities, plenty of hiking trails and a horse camp. Bring food and supplies as there is nothing close for groceries. Only a gas station about 4-5 miles from the campground. The check-in office is about 2 miles from the campground, so plan ahead for wood and ice. Bathrooms were always clean. We decided we will return here several times per year.
Date of Stay: August, 2012
This is a well maintained COE park. It's like a state park only a little cleaner or less rustic. We brought 6 boys for a camping experience who found plenty to do at the playground, swimming area and dam. It was fun to watch the fish at the dam. Campsites are large and well kept. We did have to set up the kids tent in front of our camper because the picnic table was chained down and couldn't be moved. No other place worked. There were many people staying here from southern states who camp north all summer. We met a friendly ranger intern who told us so many interesting facts about the park and the area. On a cold, rainy day we went to the Holiday Inn indoor waterpark. They have daily on-line coupons. Also, there is a washer and dryer on site. We will definitely return here.
Date of Stay: July, 2012
We reviewed this campground previously in 2010, however, this year we were able to hike and explore the area. We hiked to the Baptism River, the High Falls and the Two Step Falls. At first, we didn't understand that we had to walk across the shallow river to get back to the campground. People were swimming at the High Falls. It was beautiful and refreshing. The campsites are spacious, long and private. There is only one bathroom with flush toilets and that is where the water is located. It's a bit of a hike if your site is 12-20. We talked to a cart-in camper who said their site was on Lake Superior, but those sites are hard to come by. There are also rustic walk-in sites in the main campground. There is so much to do and see here. This is one of our favorite North Shore campgrounds. We will return.
Date of Stay: July, 2012
This small park is located on the bluffs of the Mississippi River. The view and colors will be spectacular in the fall. The sites are average size and very close together. There are plenty of hiking trails, (some were dark) and access to the river. The campground hosts were excellent. They went above and beyond to make sure everyone was having a good time and happy. We are hoping to return for a few days in the fall.
Date of Stay: May, 2012
Having stayed at this campground several years back, we had mixed feelings this time. We stayed in the Savanna campground over Memorial Weekend, where the sites have nicer spacing and foliage in between. The sites seem to be very short and are electric only. We heard several complaints about not being able to let slides out and many campfires were right on the road. We pulled our vehicle horizontal to give the people across from us some privacy, as it was their family gathering spot. They have added more electric sites and really nice cabins since we last visited. The bathrooms are from the 70's, but had been remodeled and not thought out well. There were four small stalls and two showers for each of the men’s and ladies facilities (for 70+ sites, times by 4 people per site). Two unisex bathroom/shower combos, but one shower was broken. All of the bathrooms were wet and dirty all the time, even if it wasn't raining. I had to roll up my pants, so they wouldn't get wet. Also, dump station only has one hole for both campgrounds. We left early, but people were already waiting in line. The good - close to the Twin Cities, the hiking was nice, the picnic area is huge and swimming was busy. There is an amphitheater and nice shelter just steps away. The campground offered an antique train ride into several Wisconsin towns, biking, canoeing and kayaking. This is a very nice park with plenty to do. It stays full all summer. It would be your fault if you were bored. WiFi too. We like other state parks better. We are not sure when we will go back.
Date of Stay: October, 2011
This is a beautiful, small State Park about an hour from the Twin Cities. The Pothole area is a must see and well worth the hike to the visitor center just over a mile from the campground (or a short drive). We only hiked along the river, which has stunning views of the rock formation and cliffs. Also, there is a paved railroad track trail across the highway. Rock climbers would have unlimited possibilities, but this requires a permit. It was surprising that there is quite a bit sandy shoreline to walk along too. There are canoeing and kayaking opportunities through outfitter services that are located on both sides of the St. Croix River. Search for “outfitters” within the website. There is a supermarket and a Super Center about 2 miles across the river in St. Croix Falls, WI. The downsides are that this campground is on Hwy. 8, so semi-truck noise can be loud and the electric sites seem close together. We camped during the week at site 20 and had a wonderful view of the river. As previously mentioned, some sites are not level and short.
Date of Stay: September, 2011
This is a wonderful municipal campground in the city of Two Harbors. We came up for our nephew's wedding and decided to camp to enjoy the fall colors. Many of the sites are very spacious while others are right next to each other. The lakefront sites would be best suited for a truck top camper as they are very short. The bathrooms are clean, but there are only 2 stalls and 2 showers. One more of each would be nice. One shower is set up weird with a "stall" wall divider and chair. If you don't put up everything your stuff will get wet. We hosted wedding guests for the day and they were not charged anything to visit. Also, if you camp near the stairs to Lake Superior you will get cut throughs as there is no path. We can't wait to come back in the summer or again for fall colors. Not sure where previous submitter stayed but our water and electric were on the correct side. We pulled in wrong the first time in the pull-thru and turned around. All sites seemed to be correct where we stayed.
Date of Stay: May, 2011
This is a very nice park. The swimming beach is only yards from the Lakeview campground. The Lakeview campground has a lower part that does not have the curbing mentioned previously. These sites are well suited for larger rigs and are the lower numbered sites. We stayed in a pull-through site #52, which seemed open with little shade. The upper sites do have high curbing due to being on a hill. The lower sites are close together and pretty much butt up to each other. At this time there are no leaves on the trees. Its seems the park is working to level out some of the uneven sites as there were large piles of sand and rock in the sites waiting to be spread out. The bathrooms were nice and clean. There are family bathrooms with toilet and shower, which seem to be newer. Would return as I missed Mt. Tom due to rain.