The aptly named Interstate State Park sits on the scenic St. Croix River in eastern Minnesota, and just over the border, visitors will find a Wisconsin state park with the same name. Although these parks are managed by two different states, they are one and the same. In fact, the park was the first interstate park in the nation, and visitors have been enjoying this bi-state park for over 100 years. But the park endured a rich history long before it was an outdoor recreation destination. From earthquakes and ancient seas to glaciers and potholes, the geology of the park speaks for itself. Even to this day, you can see ten different lava flows throughout the park, and both geologists and curious visitors alike can learn more about the park's diverse landscape during their RV vacation.
At just under 300 acres, the Minnesota side of the park is smaller than its counterpart, but visitors can still enjoy a plethora of outdoor activities during all four seasons. The St. Croix River is utilized as more than just a picturesque backdrop -- kayakers can paddle through rapids while anglers enjoy casting out into the abundant waters. Miles of hiking trails provide scenic views of the river, and if you hike all the trails on the Minnesota side, you can always venture over to the Wisconsin side of the park to find more. Climbers will find plenty of rock to hang from, and once you're tuckered out from a busy day of exploring, the park is equipped with numerous picnicking areas. Interstate State Park remains open year-round, and even when the snow comes visitors can enjoy snowshoeing, birding, or just relaxing in a scenic setting.
Overnight guests will find 22 RV- and trailer-friendly sites outfitted with electric hookups. The campground is open from April through October, and sites fill up fast, so don't waste any more time waiting to plan your trip to Interstate State Park.
Nestled along the scenic St. Croix River in eastern Minnesota, Interstate State Park is as its name describes -- an inter-state state park. Its counterpart sits just over the river and shares the name. No matter which side you are visiting, or which direction you are coming from, the park is just a hop skip and a jump away from major roadways. On the Minnesota side, US-8 and MN-95 will lead you near the park. Although the roads are paved and well maintained, those hauling trailers or maneuvering big rigs should be aware of steep inclines and a few twists and turns along the way. The Minnesota park entrance is on US-8, and to get to the Wisconsin side, simply follow this road to the east over the river. Once inside the park, roads remain wide and paved for easy RV access. Those with large vehicles may want to be wary of low hanging branches that are often present on the less-traveled roads of the park.
The campground is located near the park entrance, and other main points of interest like the Visitor Center, boat launches and rentals, and picnicking areas, are all just a stone's throw away. None the less, parking lots often fill up fast during the peak summer months, so those staying overnight may want to pack the bikes along in the motorhome to avoid deconstructing camp and trying to find a parking spot.
Interstate State Park's campground is equipped with 37 RV- and trailer-friendly campsites. Twenty-two of the sites are equipped with electric hookups, while the remaining sites sit riverside and are basic with no hookups. Site lengths vary, but as long as your rig is under 45 feet, you should have no problems fitting into your campsite. Guests will find a picnic table and fire ring at their site, and restrooms with flush toilets and hot showers can be found in the campground. A dump station is also available for all campground guests, along with additional parking and various hiking trails. This pet-friendly campground is open from April through October, and reservations can be made up to a year in advance.
If you're planning a trip for a group, you can stay at the park's organized group tenting area. Four walk-in sites are available, each situated along the St. Croix River and able to accommodate up to 25 campers. The group camp is equipped with water spigots, vault toilets, fire rings, and tables, and pets are allowed so long as they are kept leashed. The group camp is available from April through October, and reservations can be made up to a year in advance.
If there were no sites available on the Minnesota side of Interstate State Park, you can always head just a few minutes over the river to Wisconsin's Interstate State Park. There are more than 80 RV-friendly sites on this side of the river, but not all offer electric hookups. Wild River State Park is also located nearby, just 20 minutes north from Interstate State Park. Here guests will find more than 50 RV-friendly sites, most of which offer electric hookups. Twenty minutes in the opposite direction sits William O'Brien State Park, equipped with over 100 electric sites.
What Interstate State Park lacks in space, it makes up for in unique and challenging hiking trails, so don't forget to pack your hiking boots in the Airstream. Four trails traverse the 300-acre park, all of which offer distinct geology and scenery. The common element they share is the presence of stairs -- but don't fret, because they are all fairly short treks. Each trail offers hikers something different, from waterfalls and carpets of spring wildflowers to old railroad routes and scenic overlooks. One of the most popular (and luckily, easiest) trails in the park is the Glacial Potholes Area. As the name suggests, you'll be able to see hundreds of potholes created by glaciers, along with ancient lava rock. The scenic overlooks along on the River Trail and Sandstone Bluffs Trail are especially enticing during the autumn when the fall foliage is in full swing.
Minnesota winters are known for being some of the coldest in the nation. But even when the snow comes to Interstate State Park, those hardy enough to handle the cold can still enjoy some seasonal outdoor activities. Snowshoeing is permitted in the park, and although some areas are too steep and rugged to meander, there are plenty of areas that offer flat terrain as well. Stick to the southern area of the park near the park office for your best chance of prime snowshoeing conditions.
Anglers who visit Interstate State Park will have some scenic shoreline to fish from. The St. Croix River is teeming with fish, with some of the most abundant being catfish, lake sturgeon, and smallmouth bass. Other common catches include muskellunge, walleye, and sauger. No matter where you cast out from, you'll be treated to picturesque views of the river, made even more impressive when the fall foliage is at its peak. If you didn't bring your own fishing gear along in the motorhome, equipment is available for rent at the park office.
Once you're ready for a break from all the activities, hunker down at one of the park's picnic tables and enjoy a relaxing outdoor lunch. There is a picnic area near the river that is outfitted with grills, fire rings, and tables. There are also two shelters available for rent if you're expecting a crowd or hosting an event. One shelter is open, and one is enclosed, but both are equipped with fireplaces and electricity. If you are staying the night, you can enjoy a private picnic right outside the pop-up, as each site is equipped with a table and fire ring.
Interstate State Park is known for having some seriously old rocks. But it's not just geologists that find the basalt bluffs interesting -- rock climbers can also enjoy these giant rocks created from an ancient lava flow. There are multiple climbing and bouldering areas throughout the park, and although most of the routes are top-rated, there are also some short lead climbs available. If you plan on climbing during your RV vacation to the park, be sure to pack your own gear with you and obtain a permit before you begin climbing. Climbing permits can be obtained from the park office or Visitor Center.
When you're this close to the St. Croix, don't miss your opportunity to spend a day boating along this scenic river. You can canoe along calm waters, or kayak through rapids. If you didn't haul your own boat behind the Sprinter, seasonal rentals are available from private outfitters on the southeast side of the park. There are even boat tours that take you up and down the river if you're looking to just relax and enjoy the view.