Lookout Mountain in Cascade River State park

Best State Parks Near Duluth MN and Along the North Shore in 2024

If you’re looking for some of the best outdoor adventures in Minnesota, exploring the state parks near Duluth and along the North Shore of Lake Superior is a great way to spend a day or a weekend. Here are some of the top parks worth visiting, along with the activities and attractions you can enjoy. 

When it comes to camping in Minnesota, some of the most sought after sites are the North Shore State Parks. One trip up there, and you’ll understand why. Every year, I make it a few times a year just to take in the sites, even if it’s just a day trip. 

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What are the best state parks near Duluth?

Jay Cooke State Park

Located just south of Duluth along I-35, Jay Cooke State Park is one of Minnesota’s most popular state parks.

The park features 50 miles of hiking trails, scenic drives, and winter sports opportunities, including skiing and snowshoeing. Plus it’s know for its iconic swinging bridge that goes over the St Louis River.

Swinging Bridge at Jay Cooke State Park

Gooseberry Falls State Park

Just 30 minutes north of Duluth off of Highway 61, Gooseberry Falls State Park is another great spot to explore.

The park is famous for its stunning waterfalls, which cascade through a rugged gorge along the scenic shores of Lake Superior.

Hiking trails offer views of the North Shore’s rocky shoreline, and you can also camp or enjoy other recreational activities like biking and cross-country skiing.

Lake Superior

Amnicon Falls

A bit further afield, just outside of Superior, WI, Amnicon Falls State Park is a hidden gem for outdoor enthusiasts. Here, the Amnicon River drops over a series of beautiful waterfalls and rapids, offering stunning views and plenty of photo opportunities.

What are the best state parks along the North Shore?

The North Shore is dotted with a variety of state parks offering breathtaking views and outdoor adventures. Here are a few of the most popular parks in the region:

Gooseberry Falls State Park

As mentioned earlier, Gooseberry Falls State Park is a must-visit destination along the North Shore, with its stunning waterfalls and Lake Superior shoreline views.

The park also offers biking and skiing trails, plus plenty of opportunities to fish along the Gooseberry River.

Gooseberry Falls

Split Rock Lighthouse State Park

Another popular spot just north of Gooseberry Falls, Split Rock Lighthouse State Park offers stunning views of Lake Superior, dramatic cliffs, and of course, the historic Split Rock Lighthouse.

You can hike or ski along the Superior Hiking Trail, or explore the park by bike or boat. The park is best known for it’s lighthouse but has plenty of great hiking too.

Within the park you’ll find the best camping sites on the lake superior shoreline.

Split Rock Lighthouse in Winter

Tettegouche State Park

Tettegouche State Park is one of the best Minnesota state parks located on the north shore. It boasts stunning waterfalls and Palisade Head, which offers a breathtaking view of the Lake Superior shoreline.

Visitors can enjoy great hiking trails and rock climbing opportunities. The visitors’ center is free and provides guides with free parking!

Palisades Head
Palisades Head

Temperance River State Park

Temperance River is an incredible Minnesota State Park that boasts great hiking trails, a stunning river rocky gorge, and magnificent waterfalls.

The park is also home to fossils of ancient plants and animals that date back millions of years. Located in the beautiful state of Minnesota, the park is a must-visit destination for nature lovers.

Visitors can also connect to the Superior Hiking Trail and explore the picturesque surroundings of the park.

Temperance River MN Adventures

Cascade River State Park

Cascade River State Park located between Lutsen and Grand Marais, offers stunning views of the Cascade River and Lake Superior.

The park is known for its rugged terrain, inland lakes, and hiking trails, and it’s a great spot to explore the North Woods and enjoy a scenic picnic or camping trip.

To avoid paying the permit fee, you can park along the wayside of highway 61.

Cascade River

Judge C R Magney State Park

Judge C R Magney State Park is a picturesque destination located along the river that connects to the Superior Hiking Trail in Minnesota.

This park offers plenty of camping and hiking options, making it an ideal getaway for nature enthusiasts. Visitors can admire the stunning sawtooth mountains and witness the unique phenomenon of Devils Kettle.

Remember to obtain state park vehicle permits before entering the park.

The Devils Kettle Judge C.R. Magney State Park

Grand Portage State Park

Grand Portage State Park is located on the border of Minnesota and Canada. It is home to the highest waterfall in Minnesota, which is a natural attraction and the main reason visitors come to the park.

There is no fee to enter the park and no camping sites available. However, there is a MN State Visitors Center where visitors can learn more about the area and its history.

The park also offers picnic opportunities and beautiful scenery for visitors to enjoy.

Grand Portgage High Falls

What are some activities to do at Minnesota state parks near Duluth?

If you’re looking for fun things to do in the Duluth area, the state parks offer plenty of outdoor activities and attractions:

Hiking along Lake Superior’s shoreline: With miles of scenic hiking trails along the North Shore, you can explore waterfalls, rocky cliffs, and scenic vistas of Lake Superior.

Visiting lighthouses: Several state parks in the area offer tours of historic lighthouses, including Split Rock Lighthouse State Park.

Camping in scenic campgrounds: Whether you prefer rustic camping or full-service RV sites, the state parks near Duluth offer plenty of options for overnight stays in beautiful natural settings.

What state parks offer skiing and cross-country skiing?

Minnesota’s state parks offer some of the best skiing and cross-country skiing opportunities in the Midwest. Here are a few parks to check out for winter sports:

Gooseberry Falls State Park: The park offers over 12 miles of cross-country skiing trails, as well as groomed snowmobile trails in the winter.

Jay Cooke State Park: The park is a popular spot for snowshoeing, skiing, and snowmobiling, with over 25 miles of groomed trails.

Split Rock Lighthouse State Park: The park features 8 miles of cross-country ski trails, including a loop through the historic lighthouse area.

What are the most scenic state parks along the North Shore?

The North Shore is known for its stunning natural beauty, and the state parks offer some of the best ways to experience it. Here are a few of the most scenic parks to visit:

Gooseberry Falls State Park: With its dramatic waterfalls, rugged shoreline, and lush forest trails, Gooseberry Falls is a top pick for North Shore views.

Split Rock Lighthouse State Park: The park offers some of the most iconic views of Lake Superior and the rugged coastline of the North Shore.

Cascade River State Park: The park’s rushing rivers, stunning overlooks, and scenic trails make it a favorite among hikers and photographers.

Whether you’re hiking, skiing, camping, or just soaking up the natural beauty of the North Shore, Minnesota’s state parks near Duluth and along the North Shore offer some of the best outdoor experiences in the region. So pack your hiking boots and camera, and start exploring these great State Parks in Minnesota!

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