On the Water

Each of Bemidji’s waterway — from lake to river, pond to bog– brings a distinctive personality to the area, with park water programs to educate and entertain. Bemidji area lakes also provide habitat for a variety of wildlife including beavers, muskrats, trumpeter swans, mallards, blue herons, wood ducks, Canadian geese and the state bird – the loon, as well as our national symbol, the eagle. And with Lake Bemidji central to the area’s culture, there are plenty of unique lake activities and events to join in on, too, from Dragon Boat races in summer to sled dog events in winter.
Fish
Boat, Canoe & Kayak
Dragon Boat Festival
Boat Tours
Lake Bemidji
& Surrounding Lakes
Swimming Beaches
Mississippi Headwaters

Fish

The Bemidji area is a year-round destination for fishing walleye, bass, muskie, perch, crappies, pan fish and trout. Within 25-mile radius there are over 400 fishing lakes, making it possible to fish 3 or 4 locations in a day in search of every species. Among the top producing lakes are the Bemidji “Deadly Dozen” that includes Lake Andrusia, Irving, Kitchi, Big Wolf, Cass, Big Turtle, Turtle River, Big Lake, Lake Plantangenet, Winnibigoshish, Three Island Lake, and Lake Bemidji.

More Information

Boat, Canoe & Kayak

Travel the route of the Ojibwe Indians and the early explorers as you paddle through marshes and intimate pine-lined corridors. Or plan a family water adventure watching for bald eagles, deer, and turtles sunning themselves as you pause for a swim and a campfire lunch. Or grab the tube for some splashing wave fun, or take a quiet tour by paddleboard. Bemidji has the perfect waters for your favorite lake activity!

More Information

Explore Minnesota Tourism

Dragon Boat Festival

EVENT

The annual Lake Bemidji Dragon Boat Festival features four days of summer fun for the entire family. The fastest growing water sport in the nation, dragon boat racing is energetic and engaging for spectators and participants alike. More than just a colorful race, this event is an activity-packed festival with great food, music, kid’s programs, a parade of teams, cultural performances, camaraderie and much more– all enjoyed along the shore of beautiful Lake Bemidji.

Boat Tours

Weekly naturalist-led pontoon tours of Lake Bemidji are available during the summer season at Lake Bemidji State Park. These tours explore the local history, Minnesota lakes, or the great Mississippi River. The Paul Bunyan’s Footprint Tour explores the history of the First City on the Mississippi, and the Explore the Mississippi River Tour travels downstream to the northernmost point on the Mississippi River.

More about Lake Bemidji State Park

The Chester Charles II excursion boat at Itasca State Park offers two-hour naturalist narrated tours of the lakes, with information on the discovery of the Mississippi River and on the area’s wildlife. The boat departs from near Douglas Lodge, and the 10-mile route gives passengers a view of the Mississippi as it begins its long trip as a small stream flowing from Lake Itasca.

More about Itasca State Park

Lake Bemidji & Surrounding Lakes

Rimming the shore of Lake Bemidji is downtown Bemidji, greeting all with an unmatched, sparkling welcome. It is along this lakeshore visitors can enjoy fishing piers, beaches, parks and picnic areas, an amusement center, one of Minnesota’s most beautiful golf courses, and the world famous statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe, the Blue Ox.

Connecting to Lake Bemidji is Lake Irving. Viewed as one lake by the Ojibwe, the waterway was described as a “bimijigamaa” (lake that traverses another body of water), thus naming it “Bemijigamaag-zaaga’igan” (Traversing Lake). Because of the unique form Lake Bemidji and Lake Irving collectively form – the shape of a footprint– legend declare these lakes were actually formed by Paul Bunyan himself, as he walked the Bemidji northwoods.

When you consider lakes Bemidji and Irving are just two of over 400 lakes found within a 25 mile radius, you begin to understand– there is a lot of sky blue waters to explore when you Visit Bemidji!

 

Swimming Beaches

Lake Bemidji has been distinguished by Conde Nast Traveler as “one of America’s top 100 swimming holes” citing water quality and cleanliness as top attributes. Access to the Lake Bemidji swimming beaches can be found at Cameron Park on the west shore; Diamond Point Park at Bemidji State University on the west shore; and Lake Bemidji State Park on the northeast shore. Or swim the beaches at Itasca State Park where you can actually walk across the Headwaters of the Mississippi River!

More about Lake Bemidji State Park

More about Itasca State Park

Mississippi Headwaters

The world’s third longest river begins its run to the Gulf of Mexico from Itasca State Park, with Bemidji distinguished as the First City on the river’s historic 2,384 mile journey. Celebrate this majestic waterway by crossing its headwaters via stepping stones or footbridge. Take an excursion on the Chester Charles for a narrated cruise that journeys the same route traveled by early discoverers of the river. Or follow the river’s route by canoe with tours that last from hours to several days and rated for beginning to experienced canoeists.

More about Itasca State Park