Itasca State Park

Established in 1891 to preserve remnant stands of virgin pine, Itasca is Minnesota’s oldest state park and the second oldest in the United States behind Niagra Falls. Totaling more than 32,000 acres, with more than 100 lakes, it is here the mighty Mississippi begins its 2,552-mile journey to the Gulf of Mexico. Beautiful in all seasons, events, activities and naturalist programs available year-round.
Historic Douglas Lodge
Mississippi River Canoeing
Winter Sports
Wilderness Drive
Headwaters of the Mississippi
Landmark Forests
Warm Weather Activities
Intrepretive & Naturalist Programs
Jacob V. Brower Visitor Center
Mary Gibbs Center

Historic Douglas Lodge

Rest at the historic Douglas Lodge on either its’ picturesque outdoors porch or the cozy indoor parlor and sitting area. Built in 1905, the structure was constructed using peeled logs harvested from the surrounding forests. The Lodge also features a seasonal restaurant.

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Mississippi River Canoeing

Paddle the route of early explorers taking you from Lake Itasca, the start of the Mississippi River, to Cass Lake. This section of the river is surrounded by wilderness, much the same as when Henry Schoolcraft discovered it in 1832. Without dangerous rapids, the route is suited for beginners with fluctuations from swamp to fast water, and a portage near the hydroelectric dam eight miles below Lake Bemidji.

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Winter Sports

Itasca Park contains 28 miles of cross-country ski trails from easy to difficult, groomed for classic to skate skiing. 31 miles of snowmobiling trails circle the Park perimeter with trails connecting directly to Bemidji. Snowshoe the beautiful hiking trails under the tall pines found throughout the park. Snowshoes available for rent. Special winter naturalists programs held throughout the season.

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Wilderness Drive

Visitors can even explore the Park by auto or motorcycle. Wilderness Drive, a10-mile, one-way scenic roadway takes you west from the Headwaters and ends near Douglas Lodge. Many spectacular sights to see along the drive, including the 2,000 acre Wilderness Sanctuary, one of Minnesota’s seven National Natural Landmarks.

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Headwaters of the Mississippi

For more than 100 years, visitors have come to the headwaters of the Mississippi to wade in the shallow waters or cross over by a bridge constructed of logs. This 44-foot-long outlet dam marks the beginnings of where the Mississippi River starts it’s winding journey to the Gulf of Mexico.

Landmark Forests

Itasca’s old growth pine forests are almost as famous as its’ Mississippi headwaters, for here is one of the few places in Minnesota that has preserved these ancient pines from destruction. Preacher’s Grove is where you can stand gazing up at Minnesota’s state tree, the red pine, some over 200 years old.

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Warm Weather Activities

Bicyclists enjoy 16 miles of trails, both paved and off-road, with bike rentals available. 49 miles of a varied hiking trails including self-guided, interpretive as well as accessible. Canoes, kayaks, paddleboards and boats are all available for rent, plus there is an accessible pier for fishing, with bait and tackle available. Swim at the Lake Itasca sand beach with picnic shelter and playground. The 141-passenger Chester Charles offers a historic, narrated tour daily, in season.

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Intrepretive & Naturalist Programs

Learn more about all the park features including the historic Wegmann Cabin, Preacher’s Grove and Itasca Indian Cemetery where burial mounds from thousands of years ago can be seen. Displays and exhibits, maps and a list of naturalist programs all available and open year-round.

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Jacob V. Brower Visitor Center

The 13,000 square-foot Jabob V. Brower Visitor Center is where you can gather and discover all there is to see and do in the park before beginning your outdoor adventure. Naturalist programs are available year-round.

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Mary Gibbs Center

Opened in 2005, the Center is named for the woman who risked her life to protect and save Itasca’s magnificent pine from loggers. Browse the Interpretive displays and gift shop that features clothes, books, jewelry and Park souvenirs, with seasonal restaurant.

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