Explore Minnesota's towering hills and scenic valleys on an RV vacation to Glacial Lakes State Park. This park preserves some of the last remaining remnants of the state's rolling prairie. You will still find bluestem, prairie clove, and wolfberry lining the rolling hills. Stretching for 2,423 acres, the park is characterized by lakes, ponds, and marshes. They have resulted from glaciers that inhabited the area over 10,000 years ago during the late glacial period. With prairie to the east and hardwood forest to the west, visitors can enjoy diverse landscape and flora.
Located in western Minnesota, Glacial Lakes State Park is home to plenty of wildlife. In the oak forest, you will find squirrels, beavers, and raccoons. The park allows seasonal hunting of deer and is a habitat for over 100 species of birds. Along the shoreline, you will find ducks and waterfowl while in prairie hills you can identify sparrows and bald eagles. Nesting in the oak trees is a variety of warbler species, woodpeckers, and owls.
For picnickers, there is a deck overlooking the beautiful Signalness Lake. There are many interpretive and naturalist programs held at the park’s council ring suitable for all ages. Whether you love hiking, winter activities, or backpacking, you will have plenty to see and do in Glacial Lakes State Park. In the absence of light pollution and human traffic, stargazers will love watching stars deep in this remote region.
Rising at an elevation of 1,352 feet there are many overlooks to watch the attraction of the park from. From these overlooks, guests can see the park's wetlands, Kettle Lake, and the widespread prairie. From the Prairie Highpoint, you can see the oak forest, hills, and plains. A hike to the Highest Elevation Overlook is the most rewarding as it exposes the ambiance of the whole park from the forests, prairies, glacial lakes, and the hills below.
Glacial State Park offers a variety of accommodation options. There are 47 sites for RVers and campers in the pet-friendly campgrounds, 14 of which have electric hookups. Bathrooms, with showers, are found in the Lower Campground, and there is a dump station outside the campground. Backpackers can hike to four different hike-in sites across the park, and there are two equestrian camps for those exploring the park on horseback. Some amenities are seasonally closed, such as the bathroom, showers, dump station, and park office.
Glacial Lakes State Park is just 140 miles northwest of Minneapolis, south of Starbuck on Country Road 41. The park is easy to get to from MN-29, which offers RVers a smooth ride with beautiful scenery of rolling countryside and green pastures. The roads within the park are paved and easy to access on foot and by vehicle.
Starbuck is the closest town and is a short five-mile drive away. This is the place to stop if you need to replenish gas, groceries, and fishing supplies. You'll also find ATMs and restaurants here.
You can park at your campsite or in the overflow lot located at each campground. If you are just visiting for the day, you will find ample parking at the Day Use Area just past the park entrance.
The pet-friendly Lower Campground is the main campground and features a total of 19 campsites, including 14 with electric hookups. Featured amenities include flush toilets, hot showers, and dump station. These sites are located on gravel pads so you might have to level your rig. However, you will be greeted by the comforting shade of oak trees during your stay, as well as a picnic table and fire ring right at your site. The largest sites can accommodate a trailer or RV up to 45 feet long. This campground is open from April to October.
The Oakridge Campground features 18 sites that are perfect for RV campers. There are no water or electric hookups in this campground, but there are communal water spigots throughout the camp. If you are looking for quiet in the serenity of nature, this is a prime spot since most sites are secluded and shaded by majestic, giant oak trees. Amenities in this area include vault toilets, picnic tables, and potable drinking water. Campers in this area use shower buildings from the main campground.
While the recommended maximum vehicle length is 45 feet, some sites have longer pads that may accommodate larger RVs up to 68 feet in length. All the sites are back-in sites except for site 39, which is a pull-through site. If you have a larger rig, it is recommended that you check with the park staff before booking your site. This campground is open from April to October.
Glacial Lakes State Park has four camper cabins open all year round named after glacial formations within the park. The Kames Cabin, Kettle Cabin, and Glacial Erratic Cabin can accommodate six people each and have electricity. Esker Cabin can sleep five people, has electricity, and is ADA-accessible. The closest restroom is at the parking area closer to the Esker and Glacial Erratic Cabins. Situated on the southern side of Lake Mountain, the cabins are close to the beaches and water sports activity area.
In addition, there are two camper cabins in the lower campground that can be reserved in season. The Coneflower Cabin sleeps five and is ADA-accessible. The Friends Cabin can accommodate up to six people. These two cabins do not have electricity. The closest restrooms are just 100 feet away in the campground.
The Southeast Group camping area has a maximum capacity of 50 people. This area is equipped with picnic tables, fire rings, grills, vault toilets, potable water, parking lot, and three electric sites. The three electric sites are provided for three RVs that can accompany the tent campers. This campground is on the southern side of Singalness Lake next to the picnic shelter at the High Peak Trailhead. There are no showers at this primitive campsite, but campers can purchase shower tickets at the park office and use the showers in the Lower Campground.
Glacial Lakes State Park is a wonderful place to bring your horse. If you'd like to pace yourself and spend a night or two at the park to explore all the horseback trails, you can camp at one of two horse camps. Eight non-electric sites can accommodate up to 45 people.
One horse camp is situated at the most southern end of the park road. The other can only be reached along the trail to Baby Lake. Hikers are also welcome to use this campsite.
Be adventurous and pack your backpack and head outdoors for a night under the stars. Lock up your RV and hike one of the many trails in the park and stay overnight at a hike-in campsite.
The Oak Hike-in site lies under huge oak trees and is less than a mile away from Oakridge Campground. If you want to do a longer hike, there are three other sites to the south of the park you can visit. Baby Lake, Kettle Lake, and Hill Sites offer panoramic views over the lake and park. Remember to pack in all the water, supplies, and wood you'll need for your overnight adventure. Don't forget to pack out your trash when you're ready to leave.
Spending a few hours on the lake is a peaceful activity, whether you're enjoying some fresh air, exercise, or fishing. From Mountain Lake, water enthusiasts can enjoy panoramic views of the prairie grassland surrounding the lake as you enjoy the breeze. If you don't bring your own along, boats, kayaks, standup paddleboards, and canoes can be rented from the park's office. There is a boat ramp in the day-use area, providing trailer access to the lake for visitors with boats.
Swimming in waters of Glacial Lakes State Park is a must. Among the many enticing glacial lakes in the park, Signalness Lake is worth singling out, due to its large size, crystal clear waters, and the swim beach on its southern side. If you just want to relax and commune with nature there are benches along the lake. Remember to look after your loved ones as there are no lifeguards on duty. Baby Lake is also a great base for chilling out with your family.
Hiking the Glacial Lakes State Park multi-use trail is the best way to discover the park's natural beauty. With 16 miles of well-marked trails, it is easy to get to every corner of the park. Located in the northern section of the park, the nearly five-mile Hiking Club Trail enables visitors to experience the lake views, forest, and campgrounds. Mardy’s Trail encircles Lake Signalness and the rest of the trails are found on the southern side of the park and are the best for encountering the prairie. Though the trails meander through the hilly section, they are of moderate difficulty. Remember to bring bug spray in your travel trailer as there are lots of ticks.
Glacial Lakes State Park is a haven for equestrians. There are 14 miles of trails you can enjoy on horseback on the south side of the park. Explore some of the other lakes in the park, passing wildflowers, native prairie grass, forest, and plenty of wildlife. The park also has two horse camps where horse and rider can overnight far from the crowds. One is at the end of the paved road, where you can park your trailer, and the other is on the edge of Baby Lake. A horse pass is required for this activity.
Winter presents a unique and fun way for RVers to explore Glacial Lakes State Park without the crowds. The park offers skiing, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing opportunities in the Oakridge campground. From the campground, you can access the High Peak Trail and comfortably walk it in your snowshoes. Specific trails are designated for the use of guests on snowmobiles. Guests are free to snowshoe anywhere within the park apart from the designated ungroomed snowmobiling trails. Wrap up warm and enjoy some snow fun!
A fair chunk of the park is dotted by numerous glacial lakes, making the freshwater fishing experience an activity you won't want to miss. As a way of giving back to the community, Minnesota residents don’t require a state fishing license. Kettle Lake and Baby Lake are stocked with walleye and panfish annually. During winter, the 56-acre Signalness Lake provides great ice fishing of northern pike, perch, and bass. There is a fishing pier, two fishing docks, and a fish cleaning station available as well.