Stretched along a ten-mile leg of the Kettle River in Minnesota, you’ll find beautiful Banning State Park. It’s located near the city of Sandstone in Pine County and it offers a wide range of fun and activities for people of all ages
The park’s centerpiece is about one and a half miles,, of swirling, churning rapids, some of which are even rated as spine-tingling Class IIIs and IVs, that thrill seekers from all around the country come to visit for a dose of adrenaline.
In fact, the canoeists and kayakers that tackle the park’s rapids attract thousands of spectators, who come to the park every spring to watch adventurers tackle the rapids, while also enjoying the other activities the park has to offer.
For those who prefer to keep their feet a bit drier, they can enjoy a scenic hike along the park’s breathtaking sandstone formations, giant glacial potholes carved by ancient rivers, as well as the remnants of a historic Minnesotan quarry.
Others features of Banning State Park include the Robinson Ice Cave and Wolf Creek Falls.
The following guide is intended to inform and inspire about the most often highlighted features of Banning State Park in Minnesota, including the natural landscape, RV camping options, and opportunities for fun activities and adventure.
RV Rentals in Banning State Park
Transportation in Banning State Park
Banning State Park is located directly off the side of Interstate 35. It is open from April 1st to November 17th and offers 33 drive-in camping sites for RV-ers and campers. The drive-in sites are all in wooded areas, so campers get a real dose of privacy while enjoying all the park has to offer.
As we’ve mentioned, the park has a maximum RV length limit of 90 feet. However, since some of the drive-in sites are in heavily wooded areas, it may be advisable to contact the park first to see if they have enough room to accommodate your RV.
On the other hand, smaller vehicles, as well as pedestrians and bikers shouldn’t have any issues navigating in and around the park. However, any vehicles entering the park will need to purchase a vehicle permit at the entrance kiosk or park office.
Campgrounds and parking in Banning State Park
Campsites in Banning State Park
Banning State Park Campground
About an hour and a half drive away from Twin Cities, you’ll find beautiful Banning State Park located just a few minutes off Interstate 35.
The park has an RV length limit of 90 feet and offers a wide range of accessibility and hookup options for RVs, which include electrical, sewer, and water hookups, as well as a main office and gift where firewood and other supplies can be purchased.
Restaurants and groceries can be found in the areas surrounding the park, including Sandstone, Askov, Banning Junction, and Finlayson. ( One to six miles from Banning State Park)
The campground itself is on the small side, but this can be a good thing. While it means that reservations are highly recommended, it also means the site is likely to be quieter. And thanks to lots of trees and undergrowth in the campground, the sites here are very private.
Reservations are on a first come, first served basis and can be made either in person at the park’s main office or online.
Seasonal activities in Banning State Park
Kayaking, Canoeing and Rafting
The park’s centerpiece is about a mile and a half a swirling rapids that thrill-seekers from across the country come to conquer. Even for those who prefer to stay dry, it’s exhilarating to watch the thrill-seekers make their courageous descents through the rapids.
Banning State Park offers kayaking and rafting in the springtime at Blueberry Slide, Dragon’s Tooth, Mother’s Delight, Little Banning, and the notorious Hell’s Gate.
The Robinson Ice Cave, located in the bluffs between Sandstone and Wolf Creek Falls, is a 200-foot deep cave. The cave’s entrance is gated off to protect the several species of bats that inhabit it. And, although the cave isn’t open to the public, it’s just one of the many impressive geological formations found in the park.
Banning State Park is one of only five state parks to offer rock climbing. All questions related towards when and where to climb should be directed towards the park’s head office
Banning State Park offers several hiking trails, the most intense of which is the Wolf Creek Trail, which is a solid four-mile loop of mostly steep terrain leading up the stunning Wolf Creek Falls. Or, try the two-mile Quarry Loop Trail to hike through an abandoned quarry and watch brace paddlers tackle the Hell’s Gate Rapids.
What better way is there to enjoy nature than by watching it in its natural habitat?
Banning State Park has plenty of wildlife that visitors can come and watch out for. In fact, the park is home to over 180 species of birds, as well as an abundance of common mammals such as black bears, white-tail deers, coyotes, foxes, beavers, hares, and raccoons.
Overall, the park has a total of 184 species of birds, 34 species of mammals, and 17 species of amphibians.
Even during the off-season, Banning State Park has several cabins that are available to rent, however, not all of the park’s cabins are available during the winter months.
Still, what better way is there to spend the cold winter days than by keeping warm in a cozy cabin in the middle of the woods?
Even when the weather is cold and there’s too much snow on the ground to get out hike, you can still enjoy Banning’s stunning scenery by visiting the park on snowshoes.
For this, you might want to stick to the park’s flatter trails such as the Quarry Loop Trail or the Big Spring Falls Trail.