Trip Planner:   USA  /  Minnesota  /  Carlton  /  Jay Cooke State Park

Jay Cooke State Park, Carlton

#19 of 85 in Nature in Minnesota
Jay Cooke State Park is a state park of Minnesota, United States, protecting the lower reaches of the St. Louis River. The park is located about 10mi southwest of Duluth and is one of the ten most visited state parks in Minnesota. The western half of the park contains part of a rocky, 13mi gorge. This was a major barrier to Native Americans and early Europeans traveling by canoe, which they bypassed with the challenging Grand Portage of the St. Louis River. The river was a vital link connecting the Mississippi waterways to the west with the Great Lakes to the east.Today Minnesota State Highway 210 runs through Jay Cooke State Park. The 9mi of the route between Carlton and Highway 23—which include the park—are designated the Rushing Rapids Parkway, a state scenic byway.The park is named for Pennsylvania financier Jay Cooke, who had developed a nearby power plant, which is still in use. The Grand Portage trail and three districts of 1930s park structures are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.HistoryThe first 2350acre of land on which the park is situated were donated to the state by the Saint Louis Power Company in 1915. The park remained generally undeveloped until 1933, when a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp was established on the site. The CCC camp built a rustic swinging bridge over the St. Louis River just slightly downstream from some torrential rapids and waterfalls. This camp also built a picnic shelter. The camp was disbanded in 1935, but a second camp was set up in 1939. This camp rebuilt the swinging bridge and built the River Inn, which now houses the visitor center. This camp was disbanded in 1942, shortly before the federal government ended the CCC entirely. In 1945 the state began to add more land to the park, eventually giving it its current size of 8818acre.
To visit Jay Cooke State Park on your trip to Carlton, use our Carlton journey planner.
Create an itinerary including Jay Cooke State Park
Jay Cooke State Park Reviews
Rate this attraction
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
146 reviews
  • First time visit this year. Beautiful views of the river, especially from the Suspension Bridge. It's an easy walk so almost everyone should be able to make it. Lots of hiking trails around there too ...  more »
  • Very scenic spot. The suspension bridge is worth a visit. A beautiful spot. The bridge is close to the parking and easily accessible. We have been here several times.  more »
  • I love this park, this time of year. Always a nice stop. We hiked across the famous swing bridge & enjoyed the fall colors!  more »
  • We went this past 4th of July there with the kids (2 and 4 years old). We loved it. Very clean and peaceful. The trails were fantastic. The park is close to Duluth, where you will find a variety of activities. The beach by Lake Superior was a great spot. The park staff were Helpful and courteous. It was worth the trip from Chicago. Definitely recommend it.
  • Absolutely gorgeous!!! Make sure you obey the laws and be honest because the DNR was checking license plates and issuing tickets. This park is so beautiful and has fun, rocky and hilly trails good for hiking.
  • My family has been going here for years and it's always a blast. The center is always clean and workers are friendly. Everything is well maintained.
  • I was surprised at all there was to do at Jay Cooke State Park. Defined by the St. Louis River and the brilliant rock formations it creates, I intended to only spend an hour or two here near the visitor's center. Once I started hiking through the outstretching trails, I was drawn in and couldn't stop. I ended up hiking abut 10 unique miles that day, and was also impressed by the backcountry campsites available, including in particular the High Bluff Backcountry Campsite - Can't wait to visit again.
  • Great place for hikes. They have camping here too, if you wanted to stay for a couple days. You might have to reserve a site ahead time though.

Plan your trip to Carlton

  • Get a personalized plan

    A complete day-by-day itinerary
    based on your preferences
  • Customize it

    Refine your plan. We'll find the
    best routes and schedules
  • Book it

    Choose from the best hotels
    and activities. Up to 50% off
  • Manage it

    Everything in one place.
    Everyone on the same page.

Where to stay in Carlton

Browse hotels, guesthouses, and unique homes and book your stay on the world's leading accommodation sites.
Live like a local, find unique places to stay
Millions of travel reviews on TripAdvisor