Located in Northwest Minnesota attracts visitors from all over, including North Dakota. As one of the further State Parks from the Twin Cities, this park is one that demands an overnight stay. With so many things to do at Lake Bronson State Park, I dare you to spend less than a few days there.
One of the more interesting state parks in our Northern Loop Adventure in Lake Bronson State Park. Instead of camping at each state park, we decided to base camp in a few locations and day trips to the different ones.
Lake Bronson was our home base for four days while we explored the area around it. It ended up being an incredible area.
The Beginnings of Lake Bronson State Park
In the 1930s the town of Bronson suffered through a horrible drought, similar to this year. The solution to the problem was to build a dam at the South Fork of Two Rivers. This would create an artificial lake.
After it was built, the facilities created were all turned over to the state and the town renamed itself, Lake Bronson. A little while later, the State Park was officially created.
One interesting part about this park is that it shares its borders with private owners and bible camps. The roads within the park will turn off to access the establishment. Even the hiking club trail crosses their land many times.
Where is Lake Bronson State Park?
The official address is County Rd 28, Lake Bronson, MN 56734. The park is in the extreme northwestern corner of the state in Kittson County, Minnesota.
Things to do at Lake Bronson State Park
Lake Bronson State Park Hiking Club Trail
Miles: 3.4 miles
Difficulty: Easy but longer
Total Miles Hiked: 125.6 miles
The hiking club trail at Lake Bronson State Park should only be done during cooler weather periods. I’m talking early morning in the summer or during the fall. Ok, I’m exaggerating a little on this one.
At 3.4 miles, it’s fairly flat. But the part that makes it rough is most of the hike is done with little shade. Couple that with a 90-degree day, and you may not be enjoying it as much as you could.
The hiking trail starts off at the back of the beach parking lot. You quickly leave the cover of trees and head off into the wide-open, past some private property and other stuff.
You’ll dip into the cover of the woods for a while, before popping out again in the middle of the prairie. Both are quite pretty.
The second portion of the hike is what I was looking forward to the most, the riverside. The river and lake were stunning. There were even a few places to chill along the way. There was a point where we had to dip back into the woods to get around the bible camp.
Then we got to pass in-between all the private cabins people built with their lakeside views. It got me wondering, how on earth did they manage to secure land in the middle of the park for their cabins? Then we looped back to the parking lot.
Do you have a Lake Bronson State Park Mpa downloaded to your phone yet? The park does have wifi, but you’ll struggle to connect once on the trail. Make sure to download the free Avenza GeoPDF Map before you leave so you don’t get lost.
We spend most of our time on the hunt for wildlife. Moose and Bears live in the area. The wildest thing we saw out there was actually the ants.
Due to the lack of water, they were ferocious. They created highways along the trail almost everywhere we looked.
You’d see cracks in the path, with ants scurrying through. If you stopped for more than a minute under a shady tree, they started to climb and attack you.
I may be overstating the attacking thing, but it kept us on the move at all times. Under normal weather conditions, this isn’t a problem. They had only had an inch of rain the entire season.
The park was home to many deer. I couldn’t believe how many mom and fawn combinations we saw coming into camp.
Largest Observation Tower and Water Tower Combo
Aside from having the only lake in this part of Northern Minnesota, they are known mostly for having the Largest Observation Tower and Water Tower Combo.
The water tower is no longer being used, but it gives visitors the opportunity to walk around the top and get a little of the land. Inside you can read about the history of the park and the people that built the structures.
The view from the tower and a great breeze, but it wasn’t high enough to see the lake.
Lake Bronson Dam
To get Lake Bronson State Park from the south, you’ll have to cross over the Dam. It’s hard to miss as it shrinks down to a single lane over the bridge.
The whole time we went over it, I held my breath. On either side of the dam are parking lots. I highly recommend stopping on a sunny day. On the other riverside of the dam, is a natural pond that formed housing all kinds of wildlife.
Next to the dam, we saw a Woodchuck. And in the pond, there were so many different types of fish and one of the largest snapping turtles I’ve come across.
When the river gets a little higher, they are able to open up the dam and let more water in, allowing the fish to go freely through the stream.
With the low levels, the fish in the area are all trapped. The locals love to use it as a prime fishing spot.
Beach and Playground
Near the Visitor Center is a small playground for the kids. If you are camping in the lakeside campground, there is a sandbox where all the kids congregated at.
To have the full beach experience, you need to bring a hammock. Seriously it’s life-changing! Do yourself a favor and get a lightweight hammock with hammock straps and keep it in the car!
Camping at Lake Bronson State Park
There are so many options for camping at Lake Bronson State Park. The most popular location is Lakeside Campground. It’s a little more open but has a great view of the lake. There are a lot of sites that will give you a view.
Just behind the Lakeside campground is another campground. This is overflow. It was open but didn’t have much of a view. I wouldn’t recommend it personally.
Two Rivers Campground is another option if you are looking for something more remote. The Two Rivers Campground is at the back of the park. The turns were tight with lots of trees.
I don’t recommend trying it if you have a big rig. If you are tenting or using a smaller teardrop-style trailer, it would be perfect for you.
Camping on a Private Island
Ever wanted to stay on your own private island? Lake Bronson State Park has a watercraft campsite on the island in the middle of the park.
The camping is remote, you’ll need to bring in everything. Locals recommend putting your food in a bear bag to protect it from critters.
Camp Bronson Trail
One interesting find that no one spends much time at is Camp Bronson. This is the site of the old camp of the Works Progress Administration which created many of the features at the park.
It’s a short interpretive trail on the westernmost part of the park, just past the boat launch. The original property owner “Bronson” home once resided there too. But after the dam was constructed, their home went underwater.
Fishing at Lake Bronson State Park
Lake Bronson is the only body water of water in the North West county of the state. Even though it was artificially created there are plenty of fish. Stop at their dock and drop a line in. Or pickup one of their free fishing kit rentals at the park office.
Fish For Free in Minnesota State Parks
Did you know if you have a Minnesota driver’s License you can fish for free in Minnesota State Parks? The only expectation is if the body of water requires a trout stamp, or if you are in a Recreation Area. To fish for free you must be:
1. Fishing from shore or wading in water within the state park; or
2. Fishing through the ice, from a boat or a float on a designated lake that is completely encompassed within a Minnesota state park.
Click here for the official statue.
Stop at the park office to rent boats, canoes, or electric motors. This area provides overflow parking, boat mooring, a small playground, and a fish-cleaning building.
There are two miles of paved bike trails and five miles of mountain bike trails within the park. The paved trail starts at the park office and runs past the lakeside campground, in front of the picnic area and beach.
The mountain bike trail picks up from there just north of the beach parking lot, taking visitors on the Around the Lake trail. It totals 7 miles if you include the portion of the paved trail.
When is Lake Bronson State Park open?
The park is open year-round for campers and visitors. The official hours are Daily from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. They do close temporarily in the Fall During scheduled hunts. Make sure to check their website before you leave.
How much does it cost?
All Minnesota State Parks are free with an annual permit. You can buy them in person or online for $35. If you are planning to visit for the day, expect to pay around $7. Throughout the year, there are a few free days and other discounts you can check out too.
Camping costs anywhere from $25-35 a night.
Pro Tip: Visit any State Park during one of their free days. Check out Minnesota State Park Pass Hacks, Tips, and Free Days to find all the days
Would I go back to Lake Bronson State Park?
I would recommend staying a Lake Bronson State Park. We had a lot of fun exploring the camp. Four days was more than enough time to see it all.
I did prefer the camping experience during the week vs the weekend crowd. On the weekend it became a lot of tubers, skiers, and jet skis on the water. I missed the calm of the weekday crowd. Otherwise, it was a great park. The Park rangers were amazing.