In northeast Minnesota, situated along the north shore of Lake Superior, is Tettegouche State Park. A prime example of the North Shore Highlands Biocultural Region, the various terrains throughout the park are the perfect backdrop for your next RV adventure. Before being established as a Minnesota State Park in 1979, a portion of the 9,346 acres was once a retreat for business people to enjoy activities such as hunting and fishing. Today, visitors can enjoy a variety of activities during any season. With warm summers and below freezing winters, activities range from swimming in Lake Superior to snow skiing in the winter months. Take a walk along the North Shore of Lake Superior to get a glimpse of giant rock cliffs and pebbled beaches or hike along miles of trails to spot scenic vistas of the Sawtooth Mountains. Forest trails also offer amazing opportunities to spot wildlife with over 40 species of mammals and more than 140 bird species living in the park. You can also enjoy waterfalls, meadows, forests, and six inland lakes all within the park and just steps away from your RV. You’ll need to stay awhile to enjoy it all, so reserve a spot in one of the campgrounds here.
Located just under 60 miles northeast of Duluth and five miles northeast of Silver Bay, the park is conveniently located on Minnesota State Highway 61. This makes accessing the park in your RV or travel trailer worry-free. Much of the park is not accessible by vehicle, apart from some ATV and snowmobile trails, seasonally.
All vehicles must purchase a permit upon entry, and if you are setting up camp in the park, this fee is not included in your site fees. Park roads can accommodate any size rig, but be aware that sites are limited to 60 feet in length, including a tow vehicle if you are staying in a travel trailer.
There are several locations available for parking, just be sure to have your permit before entry, except for when arriving at the Visitor Center at the park entrance, where you can purchase your permit. Parking is also available off county highway 31 if you want to park at the Tettegouche Camp Trailhead for a day of hiking.
Again, much of the park is only accessible by foot, mountain bikes, or other seasonal options like snowshoeing and skiing. Setting up your RV camp inside the park is the best way to get the most out of your visit.
Because there are only 28 drive-in sites at Baptism River Campground, 22 of which are equipped with 20- and 50-amp electrical hookups, reservations are highly recommended. You can contact the park by phone or make reservations online as well. Drive-in sites can accommodate RV and travel trailers up to 60 feet in length, including your tow vehicle. The one downside to camping at Tettegouche in your RV is there is no on-site dump station. The nearest one is in the City of Silver Bay and is available year-round. When you stay at the Baptism River Campground, you will be able to cook indoors with electric or outside on the BBQ grill provided by the park. There is also a large picnic table where you can all eat together rather than trying to balance your food in your lap sitting in a camp chair. Restrooms and potable water are also available nearby. You can also bring your furbaby since pets are welcome. Just be sure to keep your pooch secured and supervised during your stay.
If you were thinking of doing something different on this trip, try the Illgen Falls Cabin for a night or two. Located in the eastern end of the park near the Baptism River, you can find this quaint wood cabin that sleeps up to six adults. With two bedrooms that each have queen beds and a queen sofa sleeper in the living room, there is plenty of room for everyone to stretch out and relax.
The full kitchen has a stove, oven, microwave, sink, and refrigerator. The living area has a dining table that seats six, gas fireplace, air conditioning, and two large overstuffed chairs along with the couch. You can also eat outdoors on the deck, where you will find a gas grill and patio furniture. Unfortunately, furbabies are not allowed in the cabin, so Fluffy will have to pass on this vacation perk. Reservations can be made up to six months in advance online or by phone.
If you are not able to make a reservation, or you just happen to find yourself in the area and decide to park the rig for just one night, sites that have not been reserved may be available on a first-come, first-served basis. There are only 28 drive-in campsites available in the park, so reservations are crucial if you want to step out of your RV and into the park.
Eckbeck Campground, which is just a few minutes from the main park in Finland National Forest, has 31 campsites with two that are ADA accessible. These sites can accommodate motorhomes and rigs up to 40 feet long. These are primitive sites with no electric or other utilities. However, you can use your generator for cooking inside your RV or use the fire ring provided at the campsite. The campsites also have picnic tables so you can all sit together for a meal.
You’ll find the campsites are all along Baptism River, but it is about three miles from Lake Superior. All sites are on a first-come, first-served basis, so you need to get here early if you want a spot, especially if it is a weekend or holiday. The camp also has vault toilets and potable water access nearby. Pets are welcome, so you can bring Fluffy as long as you keep her secured and supervised at all times during your stay.
About three miles to the north of the main park entrance, you can find Finland Campground, which is also part of Finland National Forest. The 39 campsites in the park are primitive with no utilities, but you can use your generator for cooking indoors, or you can choose to cook outdoors on the campfire grill provided by the park. You will also have a large picnic table at your campsite. Public restrooms and vault toilets are nearby as well as drinking water spigots. The campground is integrated with an ATV campsite and staging area where ATV riders can gain access to the Red Dot, Moose Walk, and Moose Run trails. These are first-come, first-served, so you will need to get here early to get a good spot. They also offer a small group campground that you can reserve through the park’s reservation site. Pets are welcome as long as they are supervised and restrained while you are here.
A unique way to venture around the park during the winter months is snowshoeing. Snowshoes can be used anywhere throughout the park except on groomed trails. A top location for snowshoeing is along the Baptism River, where you can find wildlife and winter flora along the river’s icy edges. No matter where you head to, if you are quiet you should spot some critters out and about. Be sure to bring a camera so you can take some pictures to share on your favorite social media sites.
Just as there are ATV trails available in Tettegouche State Park, access is also available for snowmobiles during the winter months. Check out 12 miles of the Silver Trail Riders system within the park or use the park paths to connect with other area trails such as the North Shore State Trail. The Red Dot, Moose Walk, and Moose Run trails by Finland Campground in Finland National Forest are all excellent snowmobiling trails as well.
There are a variety of trails totaling 15.5 miles dedicated to cross-country skiing. Winter offers a quieter experience in the park as there are fewer visitors this time of year. Catch a glimpse of winter wildlife at its finest, with the forest floor blanketed in white. Just be sure to dress accordingly. Some of the trails in the northern section of the park by Mic Mac and Tetttegouche Lakes are more difficult and only for experienced skiers.
The inland lakes, including Mic Mac, Nipisquit, Nicado, and Tettegouche, all offer excellent opportunities for a remote ice fishing experience. Many of the trails are maintained throughout the winter, making access to the lakes convenient. Temperatures are most suitable for ice fishing in the dead of winter, as temperatures during early and late winter often rise above freezing. Be sure to measure the ice as you should not venture out if it is less than four inches thick.
The park offers different activities throughout the year. During their Winter Camping 101 event, visitors can learn about winter camping and survival from the Tettegouche State Park Naturalist and other staff members. Activities include building a traditional quinzhee, which is an insulated snow cave used for shelter, as well as learning to cook outdoors in the snow. This can be a day or overnight event, if you choose to stay in the quinzhee you helped build.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Tettegouche Camp is a great destination for a day hike in the spring and summer. Situated on Mic Mac Lake, enjoy swimming, kayaking, or a delicious picnic after your hike to the camp. To get to the camp, which has four cabins, a shower house, and restrooms, you will have to walk about 3.5 miles. Or you can take the Lax Lake Road access, which is a shorter 1.7-mile trek but is much more difficult.
There are nearly 23 miles of trails throughout the park. Approximately 12 miles of the Superior Hiking Trail makes up a portion of the available trails and is a moderate to difficult hike. For those willing to push their limits, the rewards include beautiful views of Lake Superior and several inland lakes, as well as enchanting northern hardwood forests. For those who just want a short and easy trip, try the 0.5-mile Lake Overlook and Baptism River Loop or the 1.4-mile Shovel Point Trail.
One of the easier hikes found in the park will take you to the tallest waterfall entirely located in the state, High Falls. The tallest falls are technically High Falls of the Pigeon River; however, they fall partially in Ontario. There are two access points for the trail, and if you visit both High Falls and Two Step Falls, the total round trip is anywhere from one to three miles. View High Falls from an overlook platform on the trail, and cross over a suspension bridge to get a bit closer and even take a dip.
Another wonder of the park is Two Step Falls, located just a short hike past the suspension bridge that takes you to High Falls. Two Step Falls is unique, as there are two tiers, each featuring a drop of about ten feet. Some staggered steps lead you off the trail to these falls, but nothing too difficult for most visitors. It is only about 0.5 miles up from the High Falls and is definitely worth the effort.
Another popular activity in the park is cliff climbing. The high cliffs along Lake Superior offer a unique way to experience and view the shoreline. If you have not viewed the lake from up on the bluffs and you are into these types of extreme sports, make sure to pack your climbing gear and a camera. Shovel Point is a bit more moderate than the other cliff crags found at Tettegouche, making it popular for boy scout troops and church groups. Top ropers will also enjoy the sights from Shovel Point; however, Palisade Head is for more serious climbers.