Suited to RV Lovers, who are looking for adventure opportunities at every turn, Afton State Park is waiting for you to explore. While there are no RV camping opportunities with park, Afton State Park is a rare paradise that is not too far away from civilization. Located in Washington County near the Wisconsin border, the land for Afton State Park was bought in 1969, but it didn't open until 1982 due to resistance from locals.
Since it has opened, the park has attracted people from all over who are visiting or staying in the nearby cities of Minnesota and St. Paul. The park has many highlights and activities suited for visitors of all ages. There are 1,600 acres of varying terrain to check out, including over 20 miles of hiking trails and a swimming beach on the St. Croix River. The river is especially popular during the summertime when many people flock to it for swimming, boating, and fishing experiences. The connecting trails throughout the park will leave you breathless as you observe the rolling prairies and wide variety of birds that call the park home. Once the weather starts to get chilly, the action doesn't stop with skiing and snowshoeing, which keeps the park busy with visitors.
While this park does not have specific RV or trailer areas, it has plenty of camping areas available that are suitable for walk-in style camping. You will be able to choose from over 25 backpacking sites or a group campground with 10 camping sites.
If you want to stay in the park but have your RV with you, we recommend that you park your rig in the parking lot if you aren't using one of the group campgrounds as this is the only place small RVs are allowed. Other RV camping options in the area include at the county-operated St. Croix Bluffs Regional Park or across the border at Willow River State Park. Peak season at Afton State Park runs from April through to October.
Located alongside the St. Croix River, Afton State Park is easy to access. Depending on which direction you are coming from, the park is several miles northwest of Hastings and about 20 miles southeast of St. Paul. There are signs along the highway to help you find the entrance with ease. The park is near the town of Afton, where you can get ice, groceries, and maybe a bit of bug repellent for those summer nights.
There are plenty of signs in the park for you to navigate the trails and shoreline. Each of the trails is marked with a sign regarding the length and a few facts about it, and maps of the trails are available in the camp store. When traveling around the park, it is recommended that you either go on foot or bike. While horses are allowed in the park, it’s best to keep them on the horse trails or in the stables that are provided.
If you visit the park during the winter months, be sure to stop by the camp store where you can pick up a pair of snow boots for a small fee. Some trails may be closed due to the snow, but many of the ski trails will be open unless park conditions aren't suitable.
Since there is no RV campground, you will have to use one of the five parking lots located opposite the Visitor Center. While the park is close to St. Paul and Minnesota, there are no public transport options that will take you to the park.
Are you thinking about bringing a group to Afton State Park for some camping? If so, you will be pleased to know that there is year-round group camping available at two different sites. Located in a wooded area, Site One is the only campground in the park where small trailers can be used. You will also have more privacy here in comparison to Site Two, where the camping area is totally open.
Both of the group campgrounds use the amenities available at the south camping area. Here, you will find restrooms, picnic tables, and fire rings. There are no showers, water, or electric hookups available; however, you can get your water from the solar-powered pumps located in the picnic areas. If you do need to use a dump station, there is one 10 miles away. Please note that you can only burn firewood that has been approved by the park to prevent different critters from entering the park’s ecosystem. Pets are also permitted, and the group campgrounds are open all year round.
If you are looking for something a little different than the usual RV camping stay, there are plenty of options to choose from at Afton State Park. Many visitors want to park their RV and make use of the backpack campsites that contain a picnic table, firewood, and have vault toilets close by. The majority of these sites are around a mile away from the carpark, so prepared for a walk.
A more luxurious option is to stay one of the two yurts that are located in the south camping area. The yurts can be reserved all year round, and firewood is available for you to use at no cost. Please note that pets are not allowed in the yurts, and they are not equipped with electricity.
Geocaching has become a huge pastime at state parks over the last few years. At Afton State Park, you and your family can get a GPS device from the camp store and start your treasure hunt. The park also provides Geocache group activities throughout the year, so make sure to check out their events calendar to see when their next available date will be. To properly enjoy geocache, you will need a sense of adventure, your inner pirate, a water bottle, a device with GPS capabilities, a pen or pencil, and a pair of hiking boots. Remember to bring your own little treasures to trade and leave each site as undisturbed as you found it to keep the adventure going.
Due to the park’s initiative to better understand and preserve the wildlife in the area, you have the option to partake in a guided tour by the park naturalist. The tours are available year-round, and you can enjoy these tours with your family or by yourself. You will need a water bottle and a pair of sturdy hiking boots for your naturalist adventure. Remember to look at the events calendar online for the next available naturalist program.
Afton State Park provides a great combination of grassland and riverine for a variety of birds to call their home. The park provides a checklist for all the avid bird watchers with a list of the possible birds that they may come across. The checklist provides the names of over 100 birds and whether they are common, uncommon, rare, or spotted occasionally. The checklist also breaks down bird sightings according to the time of year and season. Remember to bring your binoculars in your rig, but if you forgot them, then you can pick a pair up in the camp store.
A five-mile horse trail and horse camping area are available at Afton State Park, so you can rest assured knowing that this area is horse friendly. Along with the trail, you can also take your horse by the shoreline if you want to experience the river views or any other trail that permits horses. If you are interested in bringing a horse, you will need to purchase a pass before your arrival. If you forgot to bring your horseshoes, you could pick some up in the camp store. But remember, the shoes in the camp store are for games, and not actually your horse's hooves.
There are over 20 miles of hiking trails at Afton State Park that are waiting for you to explore. You can take the guided trails or walk along the St. Croix River shoreline and observe the change in elevation and scenery. If you would like a challenge, then hike along the St. Croix River to the Prairie Loop and back. You will see a few wild animals, and you might even see a bear. Remember to wear a sturdy pair of hiking boots if you are planning to hike during the summer, spring, or fall.
There are two different areas to fish along the St. Croix River—the Upper and Lower. Each has a distinct habitat, which allows for a different fishing experience each time. The St. Croix River is home to over 100 different species of fish. While some fish can be considered as keepers, others must be released after you catch them. Crappies and largemouth bass are the most commonly caught fish in the river. The lake sturgeon or flathead catfish can weigh over 50 pounds and take a lot of effort to catch, but they are worth it due to their flavor and meatiness. If you are a non-resident and 16 years or older, you will need to buy a Minnesota fishing license. Minnesotans do not need a permit to fish in a state park.