Located in the northern Minnesota wilderness, Hayes Lake State Park centers around Hayes Lake, which was created by impounding the north fork of the Roseau River in a distinct effort to offer more recreation options on water in the region. Now offering everything from swimming and boating to cross-country skiing and snowmobiling, Hayes Lake State Park is the perfect choice for your next RV destination.
While the park offers many acres of water and land to explore, the park’s chief feature is Hayes Lake, which visitors can enjoy through boating, swimming, and fishing. Boaters can rent canoes and kayaks from the park, swimmers can go for a dip from the park’s swimming beach, and anglers can try their luck at catching crappie, sunfish, largemouth bass, and northern from the fishing pier. Off the water, visitors can take advantage of the park’s 13 miles of hiking trails, five miles of mountain biking trails, seven miles of horseback riding trails, six miles of snowmobiling trails, and countless miles of snowshoeing all throughout the park. Hayes Lake officially became a state park in 1967, though the area’s history stretches far before that: history buffs will be excited to learn the first homestead was established in what is now the western area of the park in the early 1900s, and the family graves of the area’s first homesteader can be seen along the trail starting to the northwest of the dam.
The park offers 35 drive-in sites spread across two loops, with 18 of these sites featuring electric hookups. Given its northern Minnesota location, Hayes Lake State Park experiences warm summers and long, cold, and snowy winters, so while the park is open for day-use recreation year-round, the campground is open only in the non-winter months from May until late November.
Sitting in far northern Minnesota and bordering part of Red Lake Indian Reservation, Hayes Lake State Park is located just a few miles off of MN-89 and MN-11. Some of the roads nearing the park are gravel, so visitors making the trip in their RV should be prepared for possible tricky driving in some stretches.
Once inside the park, visitors can plan to park their rig either at their campsite or in various designated areas throughout the park, including near the fishing pier and picnic area, and near the swimming beach. Within the campground, guests can expect gravel pads and back-in sites, which can accommodate rigs of up to 40 feet in length.
For supplies within the park, visitors can purchase firewood and rent canoes and kayaks from the park office. For more extensive supply needs, guests can find a gift shop adjacent to the park, restaurants in the town of Wannaska about 10 miles away, additional shops in the town of Roseau about 24 miles away, and grocery stores in both Wannaska and Roseau.
Hayes Lake State Park has 35 drive-in sites to offer visitors, 18 of which offer electric hookups. All drive-in sites are wooded and well-screened, so visitors can enjoy a fair amount of seclusion during their stay. The campground is made up of two loops, which both offer easy access to Hayes Lake, and all sites feature a fire ring with grill. While the sites do not offer water or sewer hookups, visitors can take advantage of the showers, restrooms, drinking water station, and dump station all conveniently located within the campground. Visitors can also enjoy easy access to a scenic overlook and to the dock on Hayes Lake through a short hiking trail. All sites are back-in access only, and the campground can accommodate rigs of up to 40 feet in length. The campground at Hayes Lake State Park is open just from May to mid-November, and the showers, dump station, and flush toilets in the campground are open just from Memorial Day through Labor Day. These sites can be reserved ahead of time, so visitors eager to snag a site at Hayes Lake can select one online in advance.
While Hayes Lake State Park offers a wide range of recreation options year-round, one of the biggest draws of this northern Minnesota state park is boating on Hayes Lake. In the warm months, visitors can enjoy paddling or boating along the park’s central feature. Boaters have the choice between bringing their own boat or renting a canoe or kayak right from the park during the summer season, but visitors should note that only electric motors are allowed on the lake. Boaters can make use of the boat trailer access point on Hayes Lake by the fishing pier, and the dock located near the overlook.
For those who want to experience Hayes Lake in a different way, the park also offers stellar opportunities for swimming and fishing. Visitors eager to escape the summer heat can lounge on the park’s swimming beach and then cool off in the refreshing water of Hayes Lake, capping off the day with a meal in the nearby picnic area. Anglers can meanwhile take advantage of the fishing pier located on the northeastern shore of Hayes Lake, and can try their luck at catching crappie, sunfish, northern, and large mouth bass.
Visitors who would prefer to explore Hayes Lake State Park on land have plenty of options, as the park offers mile upon miles of trails open to hiking, biking, and horseback riding. Hikers can take advantage of the park’s 13 miles of hiking trails, mountain bikers can make use of the park’s five miles of biking trails, and horseback riders can explore the park’s seven miles of horse trails. For a long hike, visitors can hop on Moose Ridge Trail, which stretches four miles one-way through a forest of poplar and pine on the undeveloped side of Hayes Lake.
Visitors who brave the cold and trek to Hayes Lake State Park in the winter months are in for a special treat, as the park transforms into a new kind of recreation hotspot once snow falls. In particular, once snow hits the ground, the park opens up trails to snowmobiles, so visitors eager to take their snowmobile through the varied landscape of this northern Minnesota state park can enjoy traversing the park’s six miles of snowmobiling trails in the winter season.
For those who would prefer to explore the hundreds of square miles of Hayes Lake State Park on foot, the park has even more miles available. In the snowy winter months, the entire park opens up to snowshoers—as snowshoeing is allowed anywhere in the whole park. Visitors can bundle up, throw on their snowshoes, and enjoy trekking past the frozen-over lake, through the untamed land, and past stunning scenic views. Snowshoers can also look out for the interpretive signs dotting the trails.
Any time of year, Hayes Lake State Park is a stellar spot for birding, as hundreds of species of birds have been spotted in this northern Minnesota park. Visitors who are eager to catch a diversity of bird species can look out for loons, herons, grebes, and other water birds along the shoreline, and additional species all throughout the park. For additional guidance on the types of birds throughout the park and where to find them, visitors can stop by the park’s visitor center to pick up a field guide and a set of binoculars. The park is also home to variety of other wildlife, so visitors can look out for moose, otter, deer, fox, raccoon, beaver, mink, and more.