Situated near Battle Lake in Otter Tail County, Minnesota, Glendalough State Park is a 2,761-acre public recreation area reputed for its splendid natural features and historically significant sites. Glendalough is an Irish term meaning Valley of Two Lakes. The park is named after a glacial valley in Ireland. True to its name, the park initially began as a union of two lakes, Annie Battle and Blanche Lake, comprising 30 acres of stunning lake vistas. Now, the park is home to even more lakeside beauty.
The park owes its scenic charms to a total of five lakes. The park’s spotlight, Annie Battle Lake; the oldest Lake Blanche, Sunset Lake: the land of captivating sunsets and abundant waterfowls; Lake Emma, reputed for wildlife sightings; and the park’s picnic spot, Molly Stark Lake. Most of the lakeshores have been left untouched, sealing their old-school charm for the visitors. Besides its undeveloped lakes, the park features gorgeous prairie landscape, marshy wetlands, high uplands, dense hardwood forests, varieties of birds, and abundant wildlife.
Glendalough earned the status of a Minnesota state park in 1992 on Earth Day. Before becoming a state park, the property was used as a resort and game farm. History buffs would be delighted to explore the rich historical heritage of the park. Glendalough Lodge, built in 1905, serves as an interpretive center providing insight into the park’s history as a hunting camp, resort, and game farm. The lodge is also rented to day-use to visitors and campers — summer, spring, and fall mark the peak seasons at the park.
The park offers two primitive camping sites for a unique and peaceful camping experience, free from any vehicular disturbance for cart-in and canoe-in camping in Battle Lake, Minnesota. Cabins and yurts are also provided to facilitate overnight lodging. The park is home to a multitude of recreation, fishing, boating, swimming, geocaching, and much more.
In mideastern Minnesota, Glendalough State Park is located just three miles from the town of Battle Lake in Otter Tail County. You’ll only be about two hours from St. Cloud and three hours from Minneapolis if you are interested in visiting one of these large cities while you are in the area. The roads around the park are typically wide and easy to maneuver, but you should always drive cautiously when pulling a trailer or driving an RV.
The park can be accessed within minutes traveling from the north or west on MN-78 or from I-94 to the south or west, or you can take County Road 16, which turns into Whitetail Lane. Upon getting into the park, you will find a parking lot at the entrance, and the park office is located one mile to the left. Park permits and other necessities can be bought at the office, and there is a gift shop also inside the office.
A trail center for day use is located on Annie Battle Lake, as is a modern restroom building. All hiking and biking trails of the park begin here. Most of the roads in the park and campground are accessible by RVs, but none of the campgrounds have RV camping, so you will have to park your rig at one of the parking lots and hike or canoe into the campsites. You can also choose to stay at one of the many campgrounds around the area that accommodate RVs.
The camping at Glendalough State Park is exceptionally pristine and untouched because of the lack of vehicle traffic. The park offers a serene, peaceful, cart-in campground, free from any vehicular disturbance. The campground is located in a quiet wooded area with 22 cart-in tent campsites. Free wheeled carts are offered to help you get your belongings to the campground. One electric RV site is available, but visitors may only use this RV site during the winter season. RV parking is entirely non-existent in the summer to provide a primitive-style camping experience. No more than two tents are allowed on a campsite. Water is only available in the campground during the peak season, which begins in May. However, water is open year-round at the trail center at Annie Battle Lake. The campground’s restrooms are equipped with hot showers operating only during the peak season. Modern flush toilets and vault toilets can be found both in the campground and trail center. Pets are welcome here as long as they are kept on a leash during your stay.
If you desire even more rustic camping with even more privacy, try the canoe-in campground. It features three campsites that can be reached by canoe, which the park provides. You can also get there by hiking or biking, but canoeing is much easier. Two yurts are available year-round in the canoe-in campground as well. However, during the winter, these yurts are only available from Thursdays through Sundays. The Osprey and Eagle yurts have no electricity or other hookups, so you will need to find different ways to stay warm if you come during the off-season. The park does provide wood for free to use in the woodstoves. All of the canoe-in sites are located on the southeastern side of Annie Battle Lake. Reservations can be made by contacting the park one day to one year in advance. Sorry, pets are not allowed in the yurts.
The group campground is located in between Molly Stark and Annie Battle Lakes. The group site is tent-only. Four picnic tables, four fire rings, a hand water pump, and vault toilets are available at the campsite. The group site is ideal for groups as large as 40 people. Reservations can be made from one day to one year in advance. Generators are not allowed, and there is no Wi-Fi available. There is no dump station in the campground or anywhere in the park. The nearest dump station can be accessed at Battle Lake, roughly three miles away. The swimming area, ADA accessible fishing pier, picnic area, and boat ramp are all on Molly Stark Lake by the group campground. You’ll also find access to the 0.6-mile Prairie Hill Interpretive Trail, where there are two fantastic overlooks.
The park’s cart-in campground offers four year-round cabins. You will find four camping cabins located in the woods 200 to 1,200 feet away from the parking lot on the west side of Annie Battle Lake. Each of these cabins has a propane fireplace, three of them sleep six, and the other one sleeps five but has ADA accessibility. They each have heat and electricity, a screened-in porch, and you will be given a wheeled cart to pull your bags from the parking lot to the cabin. There is a shower house with hot water and modern restrooms with flush toilets and running water to the north of the campground by the parking lot. Reservations can be made up to 12 months in advance. Unfortunately, pets are not allowed in the cabins.
There are several other campgrounds in the area that can accommodate RVs up to 100 feet long and have amenities that range from primitive and rustic to practically glamping with full hookups, hot showers, and RV dump sites. You’ll even find one with a swimming pool, several with playgrounds, fishing, and boating. All of these options are pet-friendly. Each campsite has a picnic table and campfire ring with a grill to cook on and some have full BBQ grills, lantern hangers, and bearproof food boxes. If you wish to RV camp in a Minnesota State Park, try out Maplewood State Park or Lake Carlos State Park.
From natural wonders to historic sites, there is so much to explore at the park. Make sure you attend to every nook and corner of the park while on your RV or tent camping adventure. The park’s Sunset Lake offers you a chance to witness one of the most magnificent sunsets of your life. Observation decks located on Battle Creek and Lake Emma provide spectacular views of eagles, waterfowl, beavers, otters, pelicans, sandhill cranes, and many other resident birds and animals of the park. Glendalough Lounge, a symbol of the 1990’s architectural style, offers interpretive displays on Glendalough’s history. The lodge is reputed to have hosted American presidents and vice presidents long before becoming a state park.
Glendalough State Park’s remarkable winter offerings will force RV campers to step out of their RVs, not caring about the chilly weather at all. Eight out of the park’s nine miles of hiking trails are groomed for cross-country skiing in the winter. Snowshoeing is permitted everywhere at the park except the trails designated for skiing. Beaver Pond Interpretive Trail is groomed, especially for cross country skiing. This 1.4-mile loop trail will take you along a stream through the forest and then along Blanche Lake. Skis and snowshoes are available at the park office and Annie Battle Lake.
Glendalough State Park’s hiking trails, traversing through its pristine lakes and prairie landscape, serve as a most refreshing treat for its campers. There are over 13 miles of hiking terrains that begin at Annie Battle Lake Trail, quietly sneaking their way into the park’s wetlands, prairie lands, and sandy beaches. The Annie Battle Lake Trail is a nine-mile hiking trail that offers refreshing views of the park’s heartwarming scenery. Also, there are two self-guided trails. The 1.5-mile Beaver Pond Trail and 0.5-mile Prairie Hill Trail both feature incredible vistas of the lakes and the prairie.
When is the last time you went sledding? Many of us haven’t gone since we were kids. It’s time to get back out there and remember the excitement of the wind in your face as you fly down that snowy hill. Prairie Hill Trail Parking serves as an impressive sliding hill, and there are a few other hills where you can enjoy a downhill race. Make sure you pack your sled in the RV before heading out to the park.
Steps away from Molly Stark Lake, a few tables have been laid out for the park’s RV and tent campers to enjoy a fancy picnic party. Also, if you are a large group of friends or family, the picnic shelter built at Molly Stark Lake is large enough to seat up to 100 people. The wheelchair-friendly shelter is also available for reservations. The shelter comes with excellent amenities like electricity, pedestal grills, availability of drinking water at a distance of a few steps, and fire rings. A few picnic tables and benches can also be found near the Annie Battle Lake Hiking Trail.
It wouldn't be unjust to call Glendalough State Park the land of lakes. The park features five pristine, freshwater lakes that make excellent swimming and boating destinations. Sandy beaches have been built on the shores of two of the lakes that are no less than a blessing in hot summer days. Swimming is permitted. Lifejackets can be rented at the Anne Battle Lake. The park’s lakes are also a haven for boaters and paddlers. Don’t confine yourself to your RVs or tents. Take in the pleasures of boating, kayaking, or canoeing; boating equipment is available for rent at the Anne Battle Lake.
The park’s most spectacular tourist destination, Annie Battle Lake, is home to incredible fishing opportunities. If you are a passionate angler planning to bring your RV or pitching a tent in the park’s campgrounds, don’t leave the park without exploring the fishing at Annie Battle Lake. The 335-acre pristine lake is a Heritage Fishery stocked with sunfish, crappie, walleye, and bass. No electronic fishing tools are permitted. Also, to regulate the supply of fishes in the lake, anglers are allowed to catch no more than five sunfish and five crappies a day. Species like sunfish and bass can also be found in the waters of Molly Stark Lake. An ADA accessible fishing pier is also available.
Be sure you bring your bike with you to Glendalough State Park because there are plenty of places to ride here. The park features an 11.8-mile finely paved biking loop to indulge in mountain biking while simultaneously exploring the park’s natural features and wildlife. Glendalough Trail starts in Battle Lake and passes through the park where it takes you on a scenic view of the lakes, including West Battle, Annie Battle, Molly Stark, and Sunset Lakes. You’ll also travel through Halverson Park by the Chief Wenonga statue.