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Within the city limits of Detroit Lakes, the Detroit Lakes American Legion Campground is a family-friendly RV park just across the road from the city’s mile-long sandy beach. It’s a quiet base for exploring the myriad lakes in the region while being just an hour’s drive from Fargo across the border in North Dakota.
RV camping at the Detroit Lakes American Legion Campground includes access to 115 seasonal spaces and 33 short-term sites, with room for RVs up to 45 feet in length. All of the sites come with water, electricity, and cable TV, as well as Wi-Fi, picnic tables, and fire rings.
There’s a small convenience store on-site where you can pick up camping essentials, basic groceries, ice, and firewood, not to mention a laundry room if you need to catch up on your washing. Kids are well catered for with a children’s playground, and the adjacent Legion Lounge is the place to head for a cooked breakfast, delicious lunches, or sundowner drinks.
A highlight of this RV campground is its access to Detroit Lake and the City Beach, which stretches for a full mile along the shores of Little Detroit Lake. Aside from swimming and sunbathing, there are also two public access areas for launching boats and fishing watercraft, as well as kayaks and canoes if you want to explore the lake waters at your leisure. Just a short stroll from the beach is the People’s Park, where the Lakes Area Farmers Market is held, and it’s also within walking distance of the grassy lawns of Washington Park.
Campsites at the Detroit Lakes American Legion Campground are just 45 minutes’ drive from the Smoky Hills State Forest, which is carved by the Shell River and dotted with numerous shallow lakes. There are 13 miles of hiking trails where you can stretch your legs, as well as 30 miles of snowmobile trails for those visiting during the winter months. ATVers are also well catered for with over 15 miles of trails while hunters are permitted to shoot deer and grouse during the fall hunting season.
Detroit Lake campers can also access the Itasca State Park, which is around an hour’s drive northeast of the RV park. Established in 1891, it was the first of Minnesota's state parks (and the second oldest in the United States) and encompasses the headwaters of the Mississippi River - Lake Itasca. The park is a popular destination for fishing, with walleye, northern pike, and bass all for the taking, as well as birding during the spring migration season.
Canoeing, kayaking, and boating are all permitted on the waters of Lake Itasca while numerous mountain biking and hiking trails (including a 9.6-mile stretch of the North Country National Scenic Trail) wind through the surrounds. If you’re visiting during the winter months, you can try your luck at ice fishing on Lake Itasca or hit the well-groomed snowmobile and cross-country skiing trails. Itasca State Park is also dotted with historic sites, including a significant number of rustic, log-constructed buildings, such as the 1905 Douglas Lodge.
If you’re camping at the Detroit Lakes American Legion Campground, you can pick up groceries at one of the supermarkets in Detroit Lakes. There are also numerous gas stations here if you need to fill up your RV rental and a good selection of fast-food restaurants, cafes, and eateries if you want to dine out.
If you’re interested in the local history, don’t miss a visit to the Becker County Museum. It not only explores the region’s cultural heritage but also has scientific exhibits and those targeted specifically at children. Browse the vintage carriage, sleigh, and hearse that are on display, along with antique toys such as miniature tractors and an old rotary-dialed telephone.
Why not make a day trip to the city of Fargo, which lies just across Minnesota’s border with North Dakota. Admire the contemporary and Native American works of art on display at the Plains Art Museum that occupies an old warehouse or head to the Fargo Air Museum where both vintage and modern aircraft are on display. If you’re traveling with kids, make a point of exploring the Red River Zoo where cool-climate species are exhibited or coincide your visit with a college football game at the Fargodome to experience the city at its most electric.
The Detroit Lakes American Legion Campground can also be used as a base for visiting Bemidji, which is a central hub for the Red Lake, White Earth, and Leech Lake Indian Reservations. Landmarks include the iconic statues of Paul Bunyan (a local lumberjack folk hero) and Babe the Blue Ox, as well as the Beltrami County History Center. Learn about the people and events that have shaped the region within a 1912 Great Northern Depot, then stop in at the Headwaters Science Center to get hands-on in the worlds of science, technology, engineering, and math.
Whether you want to relax on the shores of Detroit Lakes or explore the museums of Fargo and Bemidji, book an RV in Becker County and start planning your next vacation.