Situated alongside Lake of the Woods, the sprawling lake that comprises the boundary between Canada and the United States in northern Minnesota, Zippel Bay State Park offers 2,906 acres of year-round recreation, miles of shoreline, and access to 1,485 square miles of water. With so much to offer all throughout the year, Zippel Bay State Park makes the perfect addition to your RV adventure list.
Visitors of all interests will find something to explore at Zippel Bay State Park any time of year. In the warm months, visitors can enjoy hiking along the park’s six miles of hiking trails, soaking up the sun along the park’s two-mile sand beach, boating in Zippel Bay and Lake of the Woods, and fishing from the park’s fishing pier. In the snowy winter months, visitors can instead enjoy cross-country skiing along seven miles of groomed trails, snowmobiling through three miles of groomed snowmobile trails, and snowshoeing anywhere in the entire park. Any time of year, wildlife enthusiasts can look out for sandhill cranes, piping plovers, white pelicans, bald eagles, otter, timber wolves, and even moose. History buffs can meanwhile dig into the rich history of Zippel Bay State Park, as Lake of the Woods played a vital role in the exploration, fur trade, and settlement of the Zippel Bay area, and evidence of prehistoric people has been found just east of Zippel Bay along the Rainy River.
Zippel Bay State Park has 57 drive-in sites available spread across four campgrounds, and while the sites do not offer water, sewer, or electric hookups, each campground is equipped with enough easily accessible facilities to make for a comfortable stay. This Minnesota state park enjoys warm summers and the trademark Minnesota snowy winters, so the park is open for year-round recreation, but the campgrounds are open just from April through October.
Providing access to Lake of the Woods, Zippel Bay State Park sits in far northern Minnesota just a few miles from the Canadian border by both land and water, as the ocean-like lake comprises the boundary between the United States and Canada. This Minnesota state park can be accessed by RV or car from MN-11 and MN-172.
Once inside the park, visitors with RVs and large fifth wheel campers should plan to not venture beyond Ridge Campground, as the area of the park further north features narrow roads, limited turn-around options, and small campgrounds. Guests can plan to park their rigs in multiple convenient areas throughout the park, including near the marina at Zippel Bay, near the swim beach on Lake of the Woods, and near the park office.
Zippel Bay State Park is fairly remote, but visitors can find a limited range of small items at the nature store and gift shop in the Visitor Center, while for groceries and restaurants, visitors can venture a little further out and find a few options within about 10 miles of the park, primarily along MN-11.
Zippel Bay State Park has 57 drive-in sites to offer, spread across four campgrounds. Lady’s Slipper Campground is the northernmost campground and is home to sites #1-11. As the closest campground to the Lake of the Woods shoreline, this campground offers convenient access to the carry-in boat access area and the swim beach. The campground does not offer any hookups, but visitors can make use of the drinking water station in the campground, the dump station located near the park office, and the shower building also near the park office. The campground also features one primitive toilet, and visitors should be aware that the sites are all back-in. While the park offers year-round recreation, Lady’s Slipper Campground is open just from April to late October, and the showers and dump station are generally open from mid-May to end of September. Visitors can reserve these sites ahead of time.
Located south of Lady’s Slipper, Birch Campground is home to sites #12-27. This campground does not offer any hookups, but visitors can take advantage of the two primitive toilets located in the campground, the drinking water station in the campground, and the dump station and showers available near the park office. Visitors with larger rigs should be aware that the sites in Birch Campground are all back-in access. As with Lady’s Slipper, Birch Campground is open for camping just from April to late October, while the showers and dump station are generally open from mid-May to end of September, so visitors eager to camp at Zippel Bay State Park should make sure to plan their visit accordingly. Visitors can reserve these sites ahead of time.
Located just across the road from Birch Campground, Ridge Campground is home to sites #28-41, and is the easiest campground for RVs and large fifth wheel campers to access, as the roads beyond this point include narrow areas, lack of turn-around options, and smaller campgrounds. While these sites do not offer any hookups, guests can make use of the two primitive toilets and one drinking water station within the campground, as well as the dump station and shower building located near the park office. The sites in Ridge Campground are all back-in only. As with Lady’s Slipper and Birch, Ridge Campground is open for camping just from April to late October, so visitors who want to camp in this RV-friendly campground should be sure to schedule their trip accordingly. The sites in Ridge Campground can also be reserved ahead of time.
Angler’s Campground is located to the northwest of the park office, and is home to sites #42-57. As with the other campgrounds at Zippel Bay State Park, the sites at Angler’s Campground do not have water, electric, or sewer hookups; but, visitors can make use of the one primitive toilet and one drinking water station located within the campground, as well as the showers and dump station just down the road near the park office. The sites in Angler’s Campground are back-in. Like the other campgrounds at this park, Angler’s Campground closes for the winter season and is open for camping just from April to late October, while the showers and dump station are generally open from mid-May to end of September. The sites at Angler’s Campground can also be reserved ahead of time, so visitors who want to make sure to snag a spot in this campground should plan accordingly.
As one of the world’s largest lakes, Lake of the Woods offers nearly endless opportunities for boating, paddling, and fishing. Visitors eager to take a boat out on this ocean-like lake can take advantage of the park’s marina, located on Zippel Bay, and can even rent a canoe from the park office and paddle the self-guided water tour around Zippel Bay. Paddlers can also make use of the carry-in access point on Lake of the Woods, near the swimming beach. Anglers can meanwhile try their luck at catching some of the many fish species in Zippel Bay and Lake of the Woods, making use of the fishing pier and fish cleaning shelter on Zippel Bay near the marina.
Visitors who want to explore this stunning park by foot can take advantage of the park’s six miles of hiking trails. For an easy scenic walk, hikers can hop on the Hiking Club Trail which stretches for about a mile one-way along the shoreline of Lake of the Woods and to the rock jetties where Zippel Bay flows into the lake. Those looking to check out a different area of the park can then hop on the South Loop Trail, which winds for a two-mile loop through the woods. Visitors who would prefer to explore the park on horseback can similarly enjoy miles of designated horseback trails, just make sure to purchase a horse pass.
One of the best ways for visitors to escape the summer heat at Zippel Bay State Park is to cool off in the park’s swimming beach, which gives visitors two miles of sandy beach along the shoreline of Lake of the Woods. Visitors can take a dip in the ocean-like lake, walk along the sandy beach, sunbathe on the shore, and cap off the day with a picnic in the picnic area nearby. There is a parking area right next to the beach, giving visitors even easier access.
Visitors who make the trek to this northern Minnesota park in the winter season will be in for a treat, as a whole range of new activities becomes available once the park is covered in snow. Skiers can take advantage of seven miles of groomed cross-country ski trails that wind through jack pine, birch, and open fields and up to the lakeshore. Snowshoers can meanwhile enjoy snowshoeing anywhere throughout the many acres of the park, except on the groomed ski trails.
Visitors eager to soar through the diverse landscape of Zippel Bay State Park on a snowmobile will be happy to learn that the park offers three miles of snowmobile trails in the winter season. These miles of trails give snowmobilers access to the frozen lake, which becomes dotted with fish houses making virtual towns on the ice. Snowmobilers looking for even more trails to ride through can travel a little outside the park, as visitors have access to nearly 300 miles of snowmobile trails within just 10 miles of the park.
Birdwatchers will have plenty to explore during their visit to Zippel Bay State Park. Visitors can look out for osprey in the bay and along the lake, sandhill cranes nesting in the park, bald eagles nesting near the park, and the endangered piping plover along the beachfront. Double crested cormorants, white pelicans, ring-billed gulls, Franklin’s gulls, and four species of terns and herring can also be spotted throughout the park. Visitors can pick up a birding checklist from the park office to keep track of the many species common in the park at different times of year.