Jay Cooke State Park combines the natural beauty of the Midwest with the rich history and cultural heritage of the North Star State. It straddles the St. Louis River and is a paradise for outdoor adventurers. Spend your days hiking in the rocky gorge, birdwatching in the boreal forest and picnicking by the river. As a bonus, the park offers year-round appeal. Summers are beautiful, though you can also admire wildflowers in the spring, leaf peep in the fall and cross-country ski in the winter.
There's also plenty of history to soak up in the 8000-acre park, whether you're strolling around the pioneer cemetery, peering over the rails of the Swinging Bridge or exploring stone ruins from the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) era. You don't need to venture far to escape to the Minnesota wilderness, with the park just 10 miles south-west of Duluth, a lively city on the banks of Lake Superior. Planning a getaway to Jay Cooke State Park? Book an RV in Carlton County today.
More than 50 miles of hiking trails wind through the park and offer a unique chance to immerse yourself in the boreal forest ecosystem. Jay Cooke is also home to sections of the Grand Portage, a historic trail that meanders through the forest and hugs the banks of the St. Louis. Things don't slow down in the winter, when Jay Cooke State Park lures cross-country skiers and snowmobilers. The campground remains open in the winter so why not bundle up and enjoy a snow-dusted state park RV camping getaway at Jay Cooke?
Jay Cooke isn't just a pretty face, with the park also charting centuries of Midwest history. The River Inn building was built by the CCC in the 1940s and now houses the park visitor center. A short stroll away, the Swinging Bridge stretches across the St. Louis River and traces its history to 1924, though it's been rebuilt a handful of times due to flooding. Also worth a visit is the Thomson Pioneer Cemetery, which is dotted with gravestones dating to the late 1800s.
If you want to enrich your visit, Jay Cooke State Park runs a fantastic program of guided hikes, historical presentations and naturalist activities. Check the schedule to see what's on. Birdwatchers will be in their element with the chance to spot dozens of species, including neotropical warblers, evening grosbeak, purple finch and white winged crossbill. Pick up a checklist from the visitor center if you're an avid birder.
Camping at Jay Cooke State Park
With a picturesque forest setting and spacious sites, RV camping at Jay Cooke State Park is a pleasure. The campground offers all the creature comforts you'd expect from a top-tier state park, including flush toilets, hot showers and a sanitary dump station for serviced rigs. There are 21 electric sites to choose from, most with 20 or 30 amp hookups, some with 50 amp. There are also a handful of ADA accessible sites available. Most motorhome camping sites feature a picnic tables, grill and firepit – perfect for enjoying your meals in the great outdoors.
Jay Cooke can accommodate RV rentals of up to 60 feet. If you're not confident backing in or are driving a bigger rig, book one of the pull-through sites. Like most state park RV campgrounds, Jay Cooke welcomes pets. Just be sure to keep your dog leashed. Visiting in the colder months? 12 of the drive-in sites are kept open, five with electrical hookups. Warm up under the stars by a crackling fire or retreat to your RV rental for a cozy night of Netflix.
Exploring the Area
Nicknamed "The Arrowhead" in a nod to its unique shape, Northeast Minnesota boasts shimmering lakes, tumbling waterfalls, fascinating historic sites and charismatic towns and cities. A cruise along the North Shore Scenic Drive takes you along the banks of Lake Superior and through charismatic shoreline towns with farm-to-table cafes and independent art galleries.
The park is a 20-minute drive from Duluth, where you'll find unique attractions like the duplex where Bob Dylan was born. The Maritime Visitor Center offers a glimpse of the city's nautical roots, while Hawk Ridge Observatory commands sweeping views over Lake Superior. In summer why not swap a night at the campsite for free Friday night movies at Leif Erikson Park? For basic supplies, nearby towns like Carlton and Kettle River offer grocery stores and gas stations.
Craving an adrenalin rush? Why not join a whitewater rafting expedition or kayaking trip down the St. Louis River? For something a little more relaxing rent a canoe and enjoy a scenic paddle. Anglers will jump at the chance to cast a line in the cold, crystalline waters of Lake Superior. It's well stocked with native lake trout, as well as steelhead, chinook and coho salmon. Golfers shouldn’t miss The Legend and The Quarry, a pair of award-winning, championship standard 18-hole courses at Giants Ridge near Virginia, MN.
Jay Cooke State Park, MN is the perfect spot to start your next road trip.
There are many popular rentals in Jay Cooke State Park. Outdoorsy's Jay Cooke State Park RV rental marketplace allows renters to choose from rental options from professional RV rental agencies as well as RVs for rent by owner.