This part of the state features a magical land covered by towering hills and scenic valleys intersecting Minnesota prairie to the west and hardwood forest to the east. This is what you will find when you take an RV vacation to Glacial Lakes State Park. This park preserves some of the last renaming 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 which resulted from glaciers that extensively inhabited the area over 10,000 years ago during the late glacial period. RVers, picnickers, and campers will love the 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. The park 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 programs 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 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 clearly 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.
Just five miles from Starbuck along Highway 12, it is easy to get to Glacial Lakes State Park. The roads within the park are in good condition and easy to access on foot and by vehicle. Some facilities such as the hike-in sites require water access. Some amenities are seasonally closed, such as the bathroom, showers, dump station, and park’s office. 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 parking at the Day Use Area just past the park entrance near the boat launch.
Glacial Lakes State Park boasts of two pet-friendly campgrounds with 41 campsites to accommodate RVs, trailers, and tents. Reservation can be made from one day to one year in advance. However, some sites are dedicated to walk-in campers. Some cabins are handicap accessible.
The Oakridge Campground features 18 sites that are perfect for RV campers. If you are looking for peace and 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. Although, 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.
The pet-friendly Lower Campground is the main campground and features a total of 19 campsites, including 14 with electric hookup sites. 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.
Glacial Lakes State Park has four cabins open all year round named after glacial formations within the park, called the Kames cabin, Kettle cabin, Esker cabin, and Glacial Erratic cabin. Situated on the southern side of Lake Mountain, the cabins are adjacent to the beaches and water sports activity area. In addition, there are two camper cabins in the lower campground called the Coneflower cabin and Friends cabin.
The Southeast Group camping area is available and 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.
A horse camp with eight non-electric sites and four backpacking sites are available. One hike-in site is situated in the oak forest while the other three are spread on the shores of Kettle Lake and Baby Lake. Campers can access these sites by either hiking or horseback riding for a distance of up to two miles.
Hiking the Glacial Lakes State Park multi-use trail that meanders along the lakes and lush green plantations 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 on 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 in 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 your bug spray as there are lots of ticks. Along the hike, guests will be awed by the various geological features such as kames, moraines, kettles, and drumlins dominating the park.
Despite the various activities available, swimming in waters of Glacial Lakes State Park is well worthy of your time. 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 available. Baby Lake also acts as a great base for chilling out with your family.
From Mountain Lake, water enthusiasts will get to see exhilarating scenery and virgin prairie grassland surrounding the lake as they enjoy the breeze. Boats and canoes can be rented from the parks office. Only electric watercraft are permitted on the lake.
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.
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. Guests are free to snowshoe anywhere within the park apart from the designated ungroomed snowmobiling trails.
Graced with 14 miles of equine trails passing through the wildflowers, native prairie grass, forest, and plenty of wildlife, Glacial Lakes State Park is a haven for equestrians. For those who love seclusion, there are horse trails leading to the four hike-in sites. A horse pass is required for this activity.