Soudan Underground Mine
Guide

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Introduction

Looking to explore one of the most unique state parks in the country? RV lovers can enjoy all that Soudan Underground Mine has to offer during your stay, including great camping and recreational activities. Soudan Underground Mine is a state park that is known for containing Minnesota's oldest, deepest, and richest iron mine. Designated as a U.S. National Historic Landmark, the park is also now home to Soudan Underground Laboratory.

The origins of the mine date back to the 1880s when rich veins of hematite were discovered at the site that often had more than 65% iron. It was operated and owned by the United States Steel Corporation's Oliver Iron Mining division from 1901 until the end of active mining in 1962. In 1965, US Steel donated the Soudan Mine to the State of Minnesota so that the site could be used for educational purposes.

The state park is a very popular attraction and is mostly focused around the history of the mine. Surface buildings are open to the public, and during the summertime there are daily tours of the mine. These tours are extremely popular and will give you the chance to either explore the historic mining facilities or the currently active underground physics laboratory.

While the mine is the major attraction there are plenty of other popular recreational activities, including fishing on Lake Vermillion, hiking, picnicking, birding and snowmobiling. There are 33 well equipped RV-friendly campsites available for travelers to use that include both 30 and 50 amp electric connections at each individual site. Peak season at Soudan Underground Mine State Park runs from mid-May until mid-October.

RV Rentals in Soudan Underground Mine

Transportation in Soudan Underground Mine

Driving

Soudan Underground Mine State Park is located in Saint Louis County, north-east Minnesota. The park is to the south of Lake Vermillion and just north of the town of Soudan. MN-169 is the major road that services the area and the park can be accessed by either McKingley Park Road or Stunz Bay Road once you enter Soudan. Apart from Soudan there are a few other small towns nearby, including Tower, Peyla and McComber. The closest major city to Soudan Underground Mine State Park is Dulith, which is around 96 miles to the south.

You should have no major problems driving to the park as the roads are well maintained and there are no tight bends or overhanging trees that you will need to be cautious of. Stunz Bay Road is a little hilly, so we would recommend taking McKingley Park Road if you want to go to the park. During the winter time there will be significant snowfall in the area and the campground closes. However, if you still want to visit the park make sure you call ahead to see whether the roads will be drivable and not too icy.

Parking

There is plenty of parking at Soudan Underground Mine State Park.

Public Transport

There are no public transport options that will take you to the park, however it is around a 15 minute walk away from the center of Soudan.

Campgrounds and parking in Soudan Underground Mine

Campsites in Soudan Underground Mine

Reservations camping

Soudan Underground Mine Campground

Soudan Underground Mine is the newest state park to be built in Minnesota so you can expect some modern camping facilities during your stay. In total there are 33 RV-friendly campsites available for travelers to use that are quite large, very private and level. All of the 33 sites include both 30 and 50 amp electric connections at each individual site so you will be able to connect any of your gadgets that you want to use.

Along with the choice of electrical connections there is also a water collection point, dump station and each site has a traditional fire ring, picnic table and wooded space for privacy. The campground is set back from the lake so there are no water views. However, there is high-quality, fast WiFi available for your convenience. Reservations are available online for all campsites but during the off peak season all of the campground facilities will be closed.

First-come first-served

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in Soudan Underground Mine

In-Season

Picnicking

There is nothing better than taking an afternoon out to go and have a picnic. There are two picnic areas available for you to use at Soudan Underground Mine State Park. The main picnic area is located inside the park gate near the underground mine and is supplied with picnic tables, fire rings, and parking. There is no bathroom or running water in the picnic area, however those facilities are available nearby at the Visitor Center. You will also find another second picnic area at the Armstrong Bay day-use area, where you’ll find picnic tables and shelters, restroom facilities, and parking.

Fishing

Soudan Underground Mine State Park is located on the south of Lake Vermillion, which gives you some great, easy access to some fantastic fishing waters. The lake is one of the best places in Minnesota for multi-species fishing with the varied structures in the lake giving it unique qualities. Some of the popular species that are found include walleye, bass, muskie, perch and panfish. You will need a fishing license if you do not live in Minnesota.

Underground Mine Tours

During the summertime you can take a step back in time and explore the oldest and deepest mine in Minnesota. This activity is highly recommended for those who are interested in the history of mines or the local history of the area. Visitors who go on the tour are lowered in an 80-year-old electric mine hoist all the way down to level 27, which is 2,341 feet below ground. There is also another tour available that focuses on the currently active underground physics laboratory.

Off-Season

Birding

The area in and around Soudan Underground Mine State Park has some fantastic wildlife spotting opportunities, especially the bird life at Lake Vermillion. Birding is a popular activity throughout the year within the park and if you are in the park when birdwatching events are happening you are welcome to go along and participate. The lake is where you will find most of the birds. Some of the bird species found in the park include northern songbirds, loons, hawks, and owls.

Geocaching

Geocaching is a very popular modern day activity that involves using Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to go exploring for hidden treasures in various locations around the world. Soudan Underground Mine State Park has a Geocaching location that will take park visitors through some of the more interesting sites along the park's western side. Be aware that this geocaching trip will take you through terrain that could be wet, so plan accordingly and wear appropriate clothing.

Hiking

Soudan Underground Mine State Park is a great place to check out for those who love to hike. There are multiple hiking trails to explore that are located throughout the park, however not all trails are marked or developed. Because of this, please use caution if you explore a trail that is not located on the map. The most popular trail is the five mile long Hiking Club Trail that starts at the Visitor Center and will take you past he Soudan Iron Formation, through wooded areas, and along the rim of the old open mine pits.

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