6 lesser-visited campervan travel destinations in Minnesota

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Folks, we really can’t say enough positive things about Minnesota in the summer. Glittering lakes, late evening sunsets of all colors, balmy temps — you know the drill. Certain parts of the state, like the North Shore, understandably get all of the hype this season. We’ll be the first ones to ramble on about how great it is there, but there are tons of lesser-visited campervan travel destinations in Minnesota that deserve some love, too.

If you’re looking to skip the crowds and escape the heat, head to one of these 6 campervan-friendly places:

Sibley State Park

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Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

When the traffic builds to get up north, head … west? That’s right. Sibley State Park, 2 hours west of Minneapolis, feels much farther away thanks to far fewer crowds and an abundance of wildlife. Take in your surroundings by hopping on a 3.9-mile trail to the top of Mount Tom, one of the few elevated points within a 50-mile radius. This airy overlook offers a bird’s eye perspective of the myriad farmlands and lakes, giving serious inspo for which one to take a swim in next.

Distance from Minneapolis: 2 hours

Where to camp: Lake View (near the lake) or Oak Ridge (in the woods) campgrounds

  • 132 drive-in sites total
  • Showers & flush toilets available in both
  • Make your reservation for either site here

Chippewa National Forest

Fun fact, Chippewa National Forest is home to more lakes and wetlands than any other national forest across the country. And you know what that means — a seemingly endless network of glassy waters that are perfect for fishing, boating, kayaking, and swimming. Not to mention, it’s one of the largest breeding areas of bald eagles in the lower-48 states, so you just might see an eagle soaring overhead when you’re in the waters. Pretty neat, we think.

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Photo credit: Tony Webster via Flickr

Distance from Minneapolis: 3 hours and 45 minutes

Where to camp: Chippewa Loop (on Cass Lake) or Onegume (on Little Cut Foot Sioux Lake)

  • 30 sites at Chippewa Loop, 47 sites at Onegume
  • Flush toilets at Chippewa Loop, vault toilets at Onegume – no showers
  • Reserve online or by calling (877) 444-6777

Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area

It’s a relatively new state recreation area, but Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area steals the show when it comes to lake fun and wow-worthy views that stretch across the forested horizon. As a former iron mine hotspot, the landscape has both natural and human-made lakes — all of which can be explored by boat or canoe. Oh, and, it’s home to Portsmouth Mine Lake — AKA Minnesota’s deepest lake at 450 feet. Camp-wise, you won’t find the same amenities as in state parks, but the rustic “out there” feeling is part of the charm.

Distance from Minneapolis: 2 hours and 30 minutes

Where to camp: Portsmouth Campground

  • 30 drive-in sites total, with one group camp site
  • Showers & vault toilets near the campground
  • Reserve online or by calling (866) 857-2757

Kabetogama State Forest

More affordable and less crowded than your typical state park campground, Kabetogama is a seriously underrated place for campervan travelers. Towering pine trees line the quiet waters of Kabetogama Lake and Namakan Lake, right up against Voyageurs National Park (one of our favorites, and it’s not just for the name, we swear). A maze-like network of waterways and hundreds of islands make this landscape unlike any other — well worth the drive, that’s for sure.

Distance from Minneapolis: 4 hours and 30 minutes

Where to camp: Woodenfrog Campground

  • 61 drive-in sites
  • No showers, vault toilets available
  • First come, first served basis

Wild River State Park

Only an hour from Voyager HQ in the Twin Cities, Wild River State Park makes for a super easy getaway in a pinch (without sacrificing any outdoor experiences). Set along 18 miles of the St. Croix river, the park is a solid pick for both canoeing and hiking. You’ll find trails of all types: Classic hiking routes and paved loops for cycling, even including a few wheelchair accessible options. Don’t be surprised when you encounter hawks, owls, eagles, and songbirds — they call these pine and hardwood forests home.

Distance from Minneapolis: 1 hour

Where to camp: Wild River State Park Campground

  • 94 drive-in sites 
  • Showers & flush toilets (available seasonally)
  • Make your reservation here

Secluded areas of the BWCA

Even though the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA) is world famous — and rightly so — there are so many places around this vast landscape that most folks barely even scratch the surface of. Take a gander at the many different entry points of the BWCA, and scope out the maps to plan your visit. For immediate access, we recommend Sawbill Lake Campground, which is both next to an outfitter and a great entry point. Lastly, prepare to be nothing short of amazed when the glittering night sky stars come around.

Distance from Minneapolis: 4 hours and 30 minutes

Where to camp: Sawbill Lake Campground

  • 51 drive-in sites
  • Showers at the outfitter next door, vault toilets
  • Make your reservation here

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