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The Great Lakes Region of the Upper Midwest is known for its rolling farmlands and spatterings of major cities. But just outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota, between Duluth and Rochester, is the small town of Washington, MN. Located on the border of Minnesota and Wisconsin on the St. Croix River is Afton State Park. Only about 1,600 acres, this park is on the smaller side, but if quaint is what you’re looking for, then this is your place.
In 1969, the state of Minnesota selected the area that would soon be known as Afton State Park to be conserved and maintained by the state. The park is made up of a combination of large ravines, oak woodlands, and open prairies that are perfect for day hikes.
Though the park isn’t the largest, there's still plenty to do. Beach swims, bird watching, biking, volleyball, and horseback riding are just a few of the activities available. Come out in the wintertime and try snowshoeing on the park's 12-mile snowshoeing trail. All you have to do is book an RV in Washington County and get started!
Afton State Park campers who also enjoy a bit of water activity will be happy to hear that the St. Croix River runs right through the park. If it’s warm enough, have a swim in the river. You deserve it! Maybe try your luck with the fishing rod, see if you can haul in a smallmouth bass, northern pike, or walleye.
Fancy a hike? There are seven hiking trails that range from just over two miles to 19.3 miles. If you happen to be visiting during autumn, you might be lucky enough to see the leaves changing colors all around you. See the warm reds and burnt orange leaves collecting in the branches or scattering the ground around the trails. Whether you're a beginner or an intermediate hiker, campers at Afton State Park will find a path that suits them. Dogs are welcome in the park as long as they are on a leash no longer than six feet and are under your supervision.
Equestrians will love the five miles of horseback riding trails that Afton State Park offers its visitors. Gallop through the forested area into the clearing and ride out across the prairie. This park has the right combination of sloping hillsides and flat plains, so strap on that saddle and hit the trails.
Afton State Park offers a wide variety of campsites, including yurt camps, canoe-in sites, group sites, and 24 tent sites. In order to keep the natural wilderness intact, the park doesn’t provide much outside of the basic campsites. As far as amenities go, you'll find very few creature comforts, but the visitors' center supplies firewood, drinking water, and both flush and vault toilets.
However, if you're bringing your RV camper, you'll have to post up at a nearby park, since there are no RV sites at Afton State Park. St. Croix Bluffs Regional Park is only a five-minute drive away and is the closest option. St. Croix Bluff offers 30- and 50-amp hookups as well as water hookups. Refuge RV Park is a little further down US-61 (25 minutes) but boasts full hookups, 50-amp service, laundry, and cable TV. These options might require a little flexibility, but there are plenty of choices available nearby.
If you're camping near Afton State Park and you need to do a bit of food shopping, you'll find a grocery store less than ten minutes away in the town of Afton.
Is there a golfer in your crew? Once your Afton RV camping trip is through and you’re looking to see what else is nearby, head up to Stillwater, MN to the Applewood Hills Golf Course. Work on your swing on an 18-hole course located within an actual apple grove. The trees don’t interfere with the green, but their beautiful aroma will follow you throughout the day.
If you make your way to the Twin Cities, check out the Weisman Art Museum to see a wide range of American art from the early 20th century. In addition to the amazing artwork, Weisman also provides a multitude of workshops as well as other community events.
Maybe observing an assortment of wildlife is more your thing? Lucky for you, the Minnesota Zoo is nearby! Watch tigers roam and play in the grass, feast your eyes on the American Bison, or watch the zoo's assortment of exotic birds take flight.
Whatever your plans, when the road calls you back, you'll find a few gas stations nearby to help you out. With the Twin Cities only half an hour away, you’ll be close enough to just about anything you’ll need to load up and get back on the road.