Savanna State Forest
Guide

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Introduction

Savanna State Forest in beautiful northern Minnesota has activities in store for RV visitors throughout the seasons. A variety of ecosystems are on display here from rolling forests to meadowed grassland, unique swamplands and numerous lakes. Bordered on the west by the mighty Mississippi River, Savanna State Forest is also home to the Savanna Portage, a swamp system linking the Savanna and Mississippi Rivers that was once used by Native Americans to reach Lake Superior.

Minnesota forests are famous for their rich timber resources, which are carefully managed by the state to be both sustainable and productive. Hiking and biking trails in the park highlight this fact with informative trail makers pointing out tree species and management practices. In the winter months, cold-weather sports fans will love the cross-country skiing, snowmobile, and snowshoeing trails that traverse the forest.

In the summer months, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to enjoy the park’s many lakes. Hay Lake is home to the primitive campground of the park and hosts a popular day-use area for swimming and water access for fishing. Big Sandy Lake is another popular water recreation spot, and the Remote Lake Solitude Area has a network of trails for hikers to explore. With a unique mix of history and natural beauty, Savanna State Forest has something for every RV road tripper.

RV Rentals in Savanna State Forest

Transportation in Savanna State Forest

Driving

Savanna State Forest is located in northeastern Michigan, just outside the coastal town of Duluth. Covering over 215,000 acres, the park spans a massive area and also encompasses Savanna Portage State Park. If choosing to stay at the primitive campsites at Hay Lake, head for the northern edge of the park in Atkin County to reach the campground. Alternatively, Savanna Portage State Park has a larger campground with a number of electric campsites.

Traveling through Minnesota during the winter months can be difficult with an RV. Take special care to track weather conditions and check with park offices to ensure road safety within the park. Once the snow melts, Minnesota, “The Land of Lakes”, is an incredible RV road trip destination with plenty of interesting places to stay and things to do.

Parking

Public Transport

Campgrounds and parking in Savanna State Forest

Campsites in Savanna State Forest

Reservations camping

First-come first-served

Hay Lake Campground

Hay Lake Campground at Savanna State Forest offers picturesque lakeside camping spots and a convenient location adjacent to the Hay Lake day-use area. Staying here makes a lake vacation a breeze with a water recreation area near the campsites. All 20 campsites are considered primitive and do not have hookups. Fire rings and tables are provided at each site, and toilet facilities, garbage cans, and drinking water are available. Hay Lake Campground is run on a first-come, first-served basis and does not take reservations. Designed to provide only the basics, you’ll definitely feel off-the-grid and a genuine camping experience. RV campers will enjoy the location with its easy access to the lake and the hiking and biking trails that wind through the forest. Savanna Portage State Park lies within the boundaries of Savanna State Forest, and their larger campground does take reservations and has a number of electrical campsites available.

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in Savanna State Forest

In-Season

Hiking

Dive deep into the forest on the Savanna State Forest’s 15 miles of hiking trails which lead visitors through the park. There are three rest areas along the trail which provide a trail shelter, toilet facility, and fire ring. Educational signs are posted along the trail to inform visitors about the types of trees in the area and explain the forestry practices employed. The Savanna Portage swamp trails include wooden covered platforms that keep hikers dry while providing a great vantage point through the gnarly landscape. Many hiking trails double as biking trails for cycling fans.

Swimming

The Hay Lake day use area is a popular watering hole for swimmers and sunbathers alike. A dedicated swimming beach is open for visitors and offers a great way to get the family outside and enjoy the Minnesota freshwater lakes. Nearby picnic tables are the perfect spot for a lakeside lunch, and its close vicinity to the campground make this area a convenient and relaxing vacation spot.

Fishing

Savanna State Forest is home to beautiful Hay Lake, a perfect spot to get out of the camper and cast some lines. Popular catches at Hay Lake include panfish, crappie, smallmouth bass, northern pike and walleye. The famed Mississippi River is another prime fishing spot and part of the state's system of boat and canoe routes. Whether you’re on the water or on the shore, you’ll be relaxing and enjoying picturesque Minnesota lakefront views.

Off-Season

Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing

Just because it's winter doesn't mean you have to stay cooped up in the camping trailer all day. Winter visitors won’t want to miss the chance to adventure out of the rig and hit the 17 miles of trails dedicated for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. Warm-up in the cold weather with medium difficulty skiing trails or get your hands on some snowshoes for a fun, old-fashioned workout. The Remote Lake Solitude Area is a peaceful trail system open during the winter when logging and motorized vehicles are minimized to prevent disturbing the snow and maintaining the solitude environment.

Snowmobiling

Thrill seekers and explorers will love the immense snowmobile trail system available in Savanna State Forest. 80 miles of groomed snowmobile trails are maintained for visitors to enjoy during the cold Minnesota winters and are a popular mode of transport in the snowy climate. This area of the state is also part of a larger network of snowmobile trails, a unique feature of the northern United States culture. This speedy sport is a great way to reach many of the lakes and attractions inside the park.

Nature Photography

From stunning landscapes to a dynamic wildlife population, don’t forget to pack a camera for your RV trip to Savanna State Forest. Hay Lake and the diverse surrounding ecosystems are picture-perfect in any season of the year. Common animal sightings include white-tailed deer, waterfowl, songbirds, and ruffed grouse. Minnesota’s lush forests are home to pine, aspen, maple, and birch trees. With a backdrop this beautiful, you’ll be hard-pressed not to walk away with some amazing shots.

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