I made reservations for our four night camping trip, August 16th-20th 2015, back in February 2015. At the time I had no specific park in mind. I decided this trip was a good opportunity to pick a campground that was three or more hours from our home in the Twin Cities Metro area. I wanted to go to a park new to us, with a swim beach, and in an area we would not be traveling to any other time this year. Reviewing maps and availability, Bear Head Lake State Park was the winner. As I shared our summer plans with family and friends I heard great things about the park, and I also learned it was named America’s Favorite Park in 2010. We paid $23.00 a night for drive in site 67, and there was an $8.50 reservation fee. We have an annual Minnesota state park vehicle pass, which is $25.00 and grants you access to all of Minnesota’s seventy-five parks.
Things we liked about the campsite:
- Well maintained campfire ring
- Picnic table
- Wooded and with large mature trees and the sites arrayed to make them secluded from neighboring sites
Drawbacks to the campground:
- The campgrounds were tighter than we expected. We use one family tent with a seventeen-foot span and it was a squeeze. We did not put up our dining tent because of lack of space. Looking around at other sites they are all designed on a similar footprint with exceptions being those made for larger RV’s.
Things we liked about the park:
- They had planned staff lead activities during the weekdays and not just the weekend.
- The park is very picturesque. It’s not your average park in Minnesota.
- The hiking trails are well maintained.
- The swim beach has several shaded picnic tables and shares access with a fishing dock.
- It is near Downtown Ely, which has interesting places for both children and adults to visit. Including: The International Wolf Center, The Superior National Forest headquarters, and the North American Bear Center.
- There is a fairly new trail center, and it is beautiful. I found it scenic enough to be a popular rental for hosting small weddings.
Wildlife observed: Native and migrating birds including loon, woodpecker, an entire family of blue jays, ravens, bald eagles, and barred owl, and hawks. We saw frogs, a giant snapping turtle, several species of butterfly and moths. We found evidence of black bear, and beaver. The most unique wildlife experience was to hear wolves howling at night.
Activities: Hiking, swim beach, fishing dock, and boat rentals for canoes/kayaks/and paddleboards.
Bear Head Lake State Park, 9301 Bear Head State Park Road, Ely, MN 55731, 218-365-7229