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Itasca State Park, Lake Itasca

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Must see · State Park · Nature / Park
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Itasca State Park is a state park of Minnesota, United States, and contains the headwaters of the Mississippi River. The park spans 32690acre of northern Minnesota, and is located about 21mi north of Park Rapids, Minnesota and 25mi from Bagley, Minnesota. The park is part of Minnesota's Pine Moraines and Outwash Plains Ecological Subsection and is contained within Clearwater, Hubbard, and Becker counties.
Itasca State Park was established by the Minnesota Legislature on April 20, 1891, making it the first of Minnesota's state parks and second oldest in the United States, behind Niagara Falls State Park. Henry Schoolcraft determined Lake Itasca as the river's source in 1832. It was named as a National Natural Landmark in 1965, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. About 500,000 people visit Itasca State Park annually.
Approximately 7–8,000 years ago, Native American hunters pursued wild animals for food in the Itasca State Park region. These early people ambushed bison, deer, and moose at watering sites and killed them with stone–tipped spears. The bison kill site along Wilderness Drive in the park gives visitors historical insight about this period.
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Itasca State Park reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating
TripAdvisor traveler rating 5.0
537 reviews
Google
4.9
TripAdvisor
  • This was a late fall trip to the park and headwaters, so wasn't expecting much. It was pretty crowded for a weekday, with kids running all over the place. Was still worth the little time to explore.....  more
    This was a late fall trip to the park and headwaters, so wasn't expecting much. It was pretty crowded for a weekday, with kids running all over the place. Was still worth the little time to explore.....  more »
  • We took a spontaneous drive to Itasca from Fargo, ND. With just a couple of hours, we walked to the Mississippi Headwaters and drove the Wilderness loop, stopping to enjoy the early fall foliage and....  more
    We took a spontaneous drive to Itasca from Fargo, ND. With just a couple of hours, we walked to the Mississippi Headwaters and drove the Wilderness loop, stopping to enjoy the early fall foliage and....  more »
  • Crossing the 'Mighty Mississippi' as a family was a great family day! After our crossing and hiking the beautiful forested area, we were hungry! They have a great cafe with lovely outdoor seating... 
    Crossing the 'Mighty Mississippi' as a family was a great family day! After our crossing and hiking the beautiful forested area, we were hungry! They have a great cafe with lovely outdoor seating...  more »
Google
  • Fantastic place to visit! This is a must visit if you are anywhere near Itasca. The visitor center is nice and well kept. A short drive from the visitor is the headwaters of the Mississippi River. It's awesome to be able to walk across knowing how big this river is.
  • So much to do and see here! This park is great for hiking, but it is also easy to drive around and park at all the different attractions. Itasca Sports has all you recreation needs: cycling, e-bikes, canoes, kayaks, and pontoons! The fire tower gives incredible views. The Mississippi River headwaters are very cool to walk over and in the water.
  • Highly recommend visiting Itasca State Park and staying overnight at least once in the campground. There are black bears present in the area so follow the rules with putting food away. Flush and pit toilets available throughout the campground as it is huge. It is hard to get a spot on the weekend so plan ahead. You will never get bored as the park has boat ramps at lakes, a swimming beach on Lake Itasca, canoe and bike rentals, a scenic drive, an observatory deck, hiking trails, and camping.
  • If you have not visited this park, do not sleep on it! Such a beautiful park with lots of trails (both walking and biking). We covered a lot of ground by using their bike trails to get to certain hiking trail heads we were particularly interested in. The scenery in the fall was spectacular. Do not skip the old watch tower, the views from the top are spectacular!
  • Loved Itasca State Park! We brought our ebikes and biked about 15 miles of the park. We did some hiking, and some driving around the park, and still didn't make it all the way through. This park is huge. My favorite highlights of the park - the view from the old fire watchtower, swans feeding in one of the small lakes, all the colors (early October), and of course, walking across the Mississippi River Headwaters. We only spent one day at the park and we could have easily spent a week. Recommend staying at Big Timbers (Lake Itasca) just outside the north entrance of the park. The rooms there were stunning with a cabin feel.

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