Previously a winner of the Live Positively "America's Favourite Park" poll, Bear Head Lake State Park is one of the top locations for RV lovers to visit in the country. The park is a such a gem and surrounds the 670-acre Bear Head Lake and three other small fishing lakes. You also have ready access to outdoor recreation in the Boundary Waters region with the added bonus of road access, modern facilities, and motor-boating. Bear Head Lake State Park also contains the woodlands surrounding the lakes, which gives an entire total area of 5,540 acres.
The park history is not very detailed, but there have been Native American archaeological sites found near the park that date back to 4000 BCE. In the late 18th century European fur traders came to the area and built economic ties with the local Native Americans. The 1854 Treaty of La Pointe enabled Euro-American settlement along with industry in the Arrowhead Region. The park was officially opened in 1961 from property already owned by the state.
There are 17 miles of trails to explore and the area is very well known for its fishing and canoeing opportunities. Camping in Bear Head Lake State Park is available via one campground that has 73 sites total with 45 electric sites on offer. The park is open all year round and peak season is during the summertime.
RV Rentals in Bear Head Lake State Park
Transportation in Bear Head Lake State Park
Bear Head Lake State Park is located in north east Minnesota and is one of the last frontiers before the Superior National Forest and wilderness that eventually leads to Canada. Bear Head State Park Road is the only way to access to the park and it can be accessed via MN-169.
There are no cities close to Bear Head Lake State Park, but the town of Ely is located around 20 minutes to the north east. Since most travelers will be coming from the west, there are a few other small towns located along the way, such as Tower and Soudan.
This is a fairly remote area of the country so it is recommended that you stock up on supplies before you begin your journey to the park. Snow could be a problem in the winter, so remember to check the website to make sure that the park will be open and the roads are accessible. The temperatures will also be extremely cold during winter, so come prepared for those conditions.
You will have no trouble parking at Bear Head Lake State Park as it is very large and has plenty of parking spots available all year round.
Since the park is in a very remote location there are no public transport options to reach the park.
Campgrounds and parking in Bear Head Lake State Park
Campsites in Bear Head Lake State Park
Bear Head Lake State Park Campgrounds
The camping facilities at Bear Head Lake State Park are renowned for being extremely clean, tidy and generally well kept all year round. The campground has 73 total sites; that includes 45 with 30 amp electrical hookups. While there are no full hookup sites available, there are showers, flush toilets, water collection points and a dump station. During the winter the water collection points are turned off but drinking water can be found at the park office.
This is a heavily wooded campground and most sites are very well shaded with good screening in between sites. If you have a larger rig, you may have trouble navigating the loops without scraping against the trees as they are located quite close to the road. Phone reception can be found around the campground and Bear Head Lake. Since this is such a popular state park the campground does fill up quite regularly, so make sure you reserve a site before you arrive at the park. Camping is available all year round.
Seasonal activities in Bear Head Lake State Park
The numerous lakes also provide some great fishing opportunities for the anglers visiting the park. It is quite common for people to fish from kayak, the shoreline or the disability-accessible fishing pier that is located on Bear Head Lake. The two larger lakes are stocked with northern pike, black bass, walleye, black crappie, and panfish. The smaller Norberg and Cub Lakes are stocked with brook trout, so the park really does offer a nice variable fishing experience. Fishing lines are available for rent and during the wintertime you can also go ice fishing on the lakes.
Getting out and experiencing the gorgeous lakes is something you should definitely do when you visit Bear Head Lake State Park. The most popular boating options to do in the park are canoeing and kayaking. Bear Head and Eagles Nest Lake No. 3 are both equipped with boat ramps, and Bear Head also has a canoe launch. If you need to rent some gear there are numerous different water-crafts available, including paddleboats, canoes and kayaks that all come with lifejackets.
Fancy a dip during the summer time? Bear Head Lake has a lovely sandy swimming beach that is a very popular location in the park during the summer. The lake is quite shallow near the shoreline but as you move out further, the water gets deeper. There are no lifeguards posted at the beach so be careful when swimming and make sure you are aware of your abilities. There are no concessions available at the beach, but if you want some snacks you can pick some up from the park office.
All year round there are some awesome picnicking opportunities to be had at Bear Head Lake State Park. The picnic area was first built in 1961 and its highlights are the multiple fire rings. There is also an open shelter building that has a suburb view that you can use for picnics. This shelter is wheelchair accessible and it can be reserved all year round by calling the park. If you need firewood you can buy some from the park office as you are not allowed to bring any into the park.
Bear Head Lake State Park is a haven for birds and attracts birdwatchers from all over. There is a diverse habitat for birds which attracts a wide variety of different species. The beach trail is the best spot to view birds in the park and there are 25 species of warblers and vireos that are regularly seen during the migration and breeding season. These species include northern parula, black-throated green, blackburnian, magnolia and mourning warblers.
The lakes aren't the only recreational attraction that the park offers. There is a great trail system that totals around 17 miles, but since the park is so large a lot of it is inaccessible by trails. The main hiking trail in Bear Head Lake State Park connects with the 165 mile Taconite State Trail. Throughout the year the variety of animals that you could spot varies, but seeing a bear is not out of the ordinary. During the winter time there are nine miles groomed for cross-country skiing, one mile trail is available for snowmobiling and the rest of the park is open to snowshoeing.