Snuggled between rolling glacial hills and the placid lakes in west-central Minnesota, Maplewood State Park offers an array of activities for any RVer who adores natural beauty. Situated in the Leaf Mountains of Otter Tail County, the park sprawls over 9,250 acres, featuring eight major lakes and many small ponds, along with open prairie lands intersecting dense sprawls of hardwood forests.
The possibilities for recreation are as varied as the geography and include hiking, fishing, boating, birding, and even a large sandy beach for those who simply want to slow down and soak up the views. The park’s namesake trees are truly majestic, offering bountiful shade in the summertime. In autumn, they burst into a brilliant display of oranges, reds, and yellows that will, without a doubt, capture the imagination of any photographer and nature lover. A five-mile scenic road takes you through some of Maplewood’s prime areas, from sunlight-speckled hollows to wooded ridges, allowing you to spot up to 50 mammal species, as well as around 150 types of birds.
Once you’re ready to leave the camper behind, you’ll find a 20-mile trail system suited to hiking, cross-country skiing, snowmobile adventures, and horseback riding. Take to the lakes in your boat or rent a canoe right on site. History lovers can spark their imaginations knowing that Maplewood is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has witnessed numerous archaeological excavations exploring some of the oldest Native American settlements in the entire country. The Leaf Mountains found throughout the park are mountains only in name, with elevations varying from 100 to 1,600 feet, but their rolling character allows for plenty of variety in the landscape.
At sunrise and sunset, the Haloway’s Hill Trail offers nice views of a picnic ground and its gorgeous hardwood forests, which consist primarily of basswood, American elm, oak, and of course, sugar maples. After you settle into one of the 71 picturesque campsites, you can immediately stretch your legs on the campground loops or stroll through the beach at Lida Lake. The park is open year-round, but as this is Minnesota, you can expect frigid winter temperatures, which is a reason the park sees most of its visitors between April and October.
Driving an RV can be daunting for first-time adventurers, but don't worry if you are one, as Maplewood State Park is an easy-to-navigate park. The park is a seven-mile drive from US-59, and you can find supplies at Pelican Rapids. Alternately, if you’re approaching from the south, you can turn east from US-59 onto County Highway 3 to dodge the stoplights of Pelican Rapids. Don’t be deceived by satellite views of the park—there is no southern entrance accessible to RVs.
Accessibility in some areas of the park depends on what time of year you are visiting. In the summer, you can wander anywhere within the park by car, on foot, or horseback. However, in the winter, several trails and facilities are closed. You’ll want to consult with the park’s winter map if you are heading to Maplewood State Park in the colder months. The fun thing about visiting the park in the winter is that trails open up to cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.
You’ll find plentiful parking throughout the park, from the visitor’s center to the various trailhead parking lots. The loop-based campgrounds are easy to navigate with RVs up to 50 feet long. If you’re towing a smaller vehicle, you’ll have no problem accessing all of the park’s highlighted features. If you have a horse and you aren't staying in the equestrian campground, there is also day-use equestrian parking available.
Maplewood State Park has 71 pet-friendly campsites available for tents and RVs. Of the 71 campsites, 32 are equipped with 50-amp electricity outlets. The campgrounds are open year-round, although several facilities are closed during the winter. For example, showers and water are only available from May to October. RVs and trailers up to 50 feet long can be accommodated. The 71 campsites are divided between several loops: the Main Loop, Hollow Loop, and Knoll Loop, and the Loop at the Lake Lida Campground. Each of the camping areas has toilet access, but only the more developed sites feature showers, waters, and dump facilities.
Each campsite features a picnic table and a fire ring with a grill so you can enjoy some delicious meals during your stay. Some campsites offer lakefront views, while others are tucked in among the shade of majestic trees. Located alongside Grass Lake, the Main Loop is the primary area for RV campers, as all of these sites feature electrical hookups. Most RV spots are of the back-in variety and although the main road through the park is paved, the campsite pads are gravel or grass. This camping area also features centrally located showers, restrooms, dumpster, and fish cleaning shelter.
Maplewood State Park is a very equestrian-friendly location, and there are 24 camping sites featuring picnic tables and fire rings waiting for you to call home. Open from May to November, most sites allow a maximum of two vehicles, with some sites being large enough to allow up to three. Restrooms and water are centrally located; however, there are no electrical sites in the Equestrian Campground. Be advised that you must have a horse to camp in the equestrian campground. There is also a day-rider parking lot in the campground for riders who aren't staying at the campground. As with the other developed campgrounds in Maplewood State Park, the Equestrian Camping sites are reservable online.
Maplewood State Park is also well equipped for any group or primitive camping needs that you may have during your stay. There are three primitive backpack camping sites and one group campsite. The group site can host up to 30 people and is private due to its location between the Bass and Beers lake. The wooded area has a drive-in site; however, there are no major amenities here besides vault toilets. There are also limited amenities available in the backpack-in sites, so they are perfect for the wild at heart. We recommend you reserve the group site well in advance, so you don't miss out on all of the fun! The backpack-in sites can also be booked all year round.
Are you looking for a different camping experience? Maplewood State Park also has five cabins available for you to enjoy. The cabins are a great way to enjoy the park if you don't have an RV or don't want to rough it in a tent. There are a total of five cabins available during the summertime and three during the winter months from Thursday to Sunday. Four of the cabins are equipped with electricity but don't worry, during the winter the open cabins also have heating to keep you nice and cozy. Three of the cabins can accommodate up to six people, while the other two are set up to sleep five. Accessibility is also guaranteed as one structure is set up for wheelchair use. Please note that if you plan on bringing pets to Maplewood State Park that you won't be able to stay in a cabin. Reservations are available online, and they can be made all year round.
If you are a keen hunter, you can get out to the forests and fields during the offseason at Maplewood State Park if you have a special permit. During the fall months, special deer hunts take place in order to control the population, but in order to participate, you will need to contact the park office and enquire about a permit. During this time, firearm hunting is allowed, and all park guests are recommended to wear bright or blazed orange clothing. Hunters must also check in to the park office before they begin and follow any posted instructions.
Once there’s freshly fallen snow across the grassy knolls, and the lake waters freeze, Maplewood State Park turns into a winter wonderland. You can experience the magic of this enchanting setting as long as you pack the right equipment in your rig. If you brought cross-country skis, you are in luck since several trails are groomed just for this purpose. Snowshoeing is also popular since you can even rent snowshoes right in the park. If you want to cruise around the park in style, there are also snowmobiling trails ready for you. These are some of the many ways to soak up the majestic serenity of Minnesota’s natural beauty in the winter.
Thanks to its eight major lakes and numerous smaller ponds, fishing is a major draw for visitors at Maplewood State Park, and there’s plenty of diversity depending on the kinds of species you prefer. You’ll find one designated lake brimming with rainbow trout, and all the lakes have bountiful sunfish and crappie populations. On the western side of the park, there’s a lake where walleye fishing is popular, and if you have the trophy fish mentality, another lake is home to muskies.
Maplewood State Park features a collision of ecosystems, including rolling prairie and dark forests. You won’t want to leave those binoculars in your camper since around 150 different bird species flock to this area. A short drive or hike makes for easy access to these varied habitats, giving you the ability to spot animals that call these biomes home. At the larger lakes, you’ll see loons, swans, gulls, terns, and an array of migratory waterfowl. Stroll into open lands, and you’ll spot red-shouldered hawks. The denser woods are home to vireos, thrushes, woodpeckers, and more than two dozen warbler species. In the grasslands and marshes, you may stumble upon grasshopper, clay-colored or vesper sparrows, as well as bobolinks and blackbirds.
Maplewood State Park is a fantastic place to get outside and enjoy the surroundings with a picnic. There are several areas of the park that are equipped with picnic tables, including The Trail Center and the campground loops. There are also two picnic shelters that can be used for larger groups that have some great extra amenities, such as a small kitchen. One of the shelters is reservable online, so if you do have a large group of family or friends visiting, you can book it in advance.
There are around 20 miles of trails winding through Maplewood State Park. The best overlook hike is Haloway’s Hill, a one-mile, round-trip jaunt that rises over some of the tall trees, giving you an eyeful of the horizon on the lakes and ponds below. The Grass Lake and Bass Lake Loop is a six-mile adventure that’s easy for all skill levels. Feel free to take your dogs out as part of the fun, but remember that leashes are required throughout the park.
If you're itching to park the RV and get out on the water, Maplewood State Park is the place for you. There are over a dozen small and large lakes scattered around the park’s landscape. You can launch your boat on any of the bodies of water that provide ramp access, including the popular Lida Lake, Beers Lake, and Fladmark Lake. If you didn’t bring any watercraft in your rig, you could always rent canoes and kayaks right within the park, and if you want to take a dip in these cool waters, head on over to the swimming beach at Lake Lida.
Maplewood State Park is a major destination for the equestrian-minded, and horseback riding is allowed on approximately 20 miles of trails, which are groomed and maintained for smooth riding. In order to use the horseback trails, you will have to bring your own horse to the park or organize a private group ride. If your horse is tagging along in the trailer, you should consider staying at the horse campground, which is conveniently located in the north-central part of the park. You’ll find 24 sites specifically for horse lovers that are located near corrals, water, and hitching posts for your trusty steed. You’ll also have access to picket lines and manure bins, but keep in mind that there are no electrical hookups in this camp, nor are there shower facilities.