Thanks to its convenient location on the north side of Lake Superior, Cascade River State Park offers a variety of activities for RV campers and day-use visitors alike. Cascade River State Park has been preserved and untouched since the mid-1950s, making it an excellent vacation destination for those seeking some solitude in nature. This area is perfect for campers who enjoy long hikes complete with wildlife viewing opportunities and stunning backdrops. The park’s most popular attraction is Cascade Falls, a set of five gorgeous waterfalls that are especially stunning in winter when the water freezes completely.
Visitors can enjoy activities such as fishing and hiking in the summer and cross-country skiing and snowmobiling in the winter, which means Cascade River State Park offers a unique experience for RV campers. You can even rent a bicycle from the park or go on a long walk with your four-legged friend.
Surrounded by a forest of cedar trees, Cascade River State Park has several picnic sites along the Cascade River and Lake Superior where visitors can enjoy a scenic outdoor barbecue or a quick bite to eat. While exploring, you’ll want to watch out for some of the less friendly wildlife at the park, such as wolves and bears. Hopefully, though, you’ll just see a pine marten or two on your RV camping trip at Cascade State Park.
Cascade River State Park is situated within 10 miles from the towns of Lutsen and Grand Marais, making this area easily accessible. Minnesota Highway 61 cuts through the state park, making initial access to the area easy and convenient year-round. The park’s internal roads are gravel and are only wide enough for one vehicle at a time, so drivers should take care when navigating this area, especially if their RV is particularly wide. Despite the sharp inclines throughout the park (and the stunning views that come with them), the roads leading to the campsites are fairly flat.
Drivers should take care to avoid any wildlife crossing the roads, such as moose and deer, in this remote area. During the winter months, drivers should practice caution as snowfall is common and can be heavy. Because this is a forested area, drivers will also need to be mindful of fallen trees during this season. Downed trees may also cause road closures, so campers should check for condition updates from local authorities, especially during the winter months.
Visitors will need to purchase a parking pass to access the park. There are three main parking areas at Cascade River State Park, two of which are within a short walk of the campground and group campsite.
The Cascade River State Park Campground has 40 campsites available during the peak season. The campground does accept reservations; however, first-come, first-served sites are also available. Some campsites in this area are quite narrow and will not be able to accommodate large RVs, so campers should be mindful of their vehicle’s length when choosing their site. There are only four pull-through sites here. During the winter, only six sites remain open, three of which offer electric hookups.
Picnic tables are scattered around the campground, with seven picnic areas available for group get-togethers. Electric hookups are provided at around half of the sites, in addition to a dump station, hot water showers, and toilets, all of which are available seasonally. Vault toilets are provided during the winter months. A separate group camping area is available, and backcountry camping is permitted at the park.
For RV campers at Cascade River State Park who require consistent cell phone service, the area receives decent coverage, perhaps the only exception being the remote hiking trails. Public phones are also available at the park office in case of emergency. Firewood is available to purchase from the park office and groceries are available within ten miles.
First-come, first-served camping options are available at Cascade River State Park. However, if you are hoping to snag a first-come, first-served campsite you’ll want to arrive early since this is one of the most popular state park campgrounds in all of Minnesota.
The sheer amount of wildlife in this area is reason enough to visit Cascade River State Park, and there is no shortage of birds to spot with your binoculars. With over 100 species on display, avid birdwatchers have the chance to glimpse America’s national symbol, the bald eagle, as well as other rare and incredible species such as the peregrine falcon. Birdwatchers can even download a checklist from the Department of Natural Resources to keep track of what they’ve seen.
The perfect accompaniment to birdwatching is, of course, a hike along the beautiful Cascade River and the scenic shoreline of Lake Superior. There is a variety of trails hikers can take, with Lookout Mountain Trail being one of the most popular. This trail leads you down by the park’s namesake waterfalls and up Lookout Mountain, which offers some stunning vistas that make the perfect photo op. During the autumn, the changing colors of the aspen and ferns make the hike extra special.
Fishing is a popular tourist attraction for RVers at Cascade River State Park. Fishing permits can be purchased from the nearby towns of Lutsen and Grand Marquis, meaning even the least prepared angler can partake. Different seasons offer different species -- steelhead trout are common in spring, while anglers can catch various species of salmon in autumn. Tributaries into the river and lake make fishing a year-round activity, and there is always something to catch and cook on the grill.
If you’re looking for something a bit more thrilling, you might want to plan your RV camping trip to Cascade River State Park for the winter. Visitors can rent a snowmobile and travel down the two-mile groomed snowmobile trail. The trail leads by the river and visitors will get to see the frozen-over rapids and waterfall, which are truly stunning and well worth a visit. This activity is perfect for younger daredevils looking to get out of the RV.
Campers can enjoy skiing on the designated routes in Cascade River State Park -- and with more than 17 miles of cross-country skiing trails, there’s plenty of room to explore. The XC trail system at Cascade River State Park connects to over 150 miles of North Shore trails, providing endless opportunities for a snowy adventure. There is also the option of downhill skiing at Lutsen Mountains, considered one of the best ski destinations in North America, offering more than 85 ski runs for various activity levels.
If you are just in the mood for a hike in a winter wonderland, then bring your warmest gear for a snowshoeing excursion along the riverbanks and up the mountain trails. RV campers can rent snowshoes from the park office if they don’t have their own gear, and one of the park’s picnic shelters serves as a warming house in the winter. This activity is surprisingly popular and offers a different view of the area, such as the snowy paw prints of wildlife like coyote and deer speckling the countryside and the occasional snapping of tree branches or bird call breaking the silence.