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In the scenic Cannon River Valley, the Lake Byllesby Campground lies along the northeast shores of the Lake Byllesby Reservoir. It’s the largest lake in southern Dakota County while being on the doorstep of Cannon Falls and just one hour’s drive from the center of Minneapolis.
RV camping at the Lake Byllesby Campground includes access to 35 RV sites and 22 tent-only sites, with many offering lakeside views. There are accessible restrooms with showers and a sanitary dump station, as well as picnic tables and fire rings where you can congregate in the evenings.
Kids can enjoy a run around in the children’s playground while boaters can take advantage of the boat launch to get out on Lake Byllesby. There are on-site caretakers if you have any issues, and you’re never far from all the services and amenities of Cannon Falls.
A highlight of RV camping at the Lake Byllesby Campground is birdwatching in the surrounding park, which has been designated as an Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society. Great-horned owls, bald eagles, and downy woodpeckers have all been recorded here, as have cedar waxwings and yellow-rumped warblers. Lake Byllesby is also an angler’s paradise, with black bullhead, channel catfish, and white crappies all for the taking.
If you drive east along the Cannon River, you’ll arrive at the Miesville Ravine Park Reserve, which protects around 1,600 acres of biologically diverse land. A network of hiking trails winds through its mature oak, cottonwood, and white pine forests while un-groomed trails for snowshoeing are available in the winter months. Fishing for brook trout is also popular, as is picnicking at the various shelters that dot the reserve.
Just over an hour’s drive east of the Lake Byllesby Campground is the Five-Mile Bluff Prairie State Natural Area, which overlooks the meeting of the Chippewa and Mississippi rivers. The prairie sprawls across 300-foot-high river bluffs and attracts a variety of migratory bird species in the spring, with forested tracks of aspen, chokecherry, and staghorn sumac. The Five-Mile Bluff Prairie State Natural Area borders the Nelson-Trevino Bottoms State Natural Area, a large, undisturbed portion of what is the largest delta floodplain forest in the upper Midwest. Pileated woodpeckers, blue-gray gnatcatchers, and broad-winged hawks have all been recorded here, together with myriad native plant species.
Campsites at the Lake Byllesby Campground are just five minutes' drive from Cannon Falls, where you’ll find a couple of supermarkets for stocking up on grocery supplies. There are also numerous gas stations here if you need to fill up your RV rental and a handful of restaurants for dining out.
The campsites at Lake Byllesby Campground are a good base for visiting Minneapolis and its “twin city” of St. Paul, which are renowned for their fine museums and scenic parks. Get your cultural fix at the Walker Art Center where contemporary works are displayed, then stroll through the adjacent Minneapolis Sculpture Garden where Claes Oldenburg’s famous Spoonbridge and Cherry is exhibited. You can delve into the region’s industrial past at the Mill City Museum, then enjoy a walk along the landmark Minneapolis Stone Arch Bridge. Shoppers should head directly to the immense Mall of America, which is home to more than 550 stores and boasts its very own theme park.
If you’re visiting St. Paul during your motorhome rental vacation, you can get hands-on at the Science Museum of Minnesota or explore the interactive exhibits at the Minnesota History Center. Green thumbs and animal enthusiasts shouldn’t miss a visit to the Como Park Zoo & Conservatory, which is an ideal destination for families. Also of note is the Minnesota State Capitol building, which was designed by renowned American architect Cass Gilbert in an Italian Renaissance-Beaux Arts style. Join a guided tour to learn about the history of the building and the important decisions that have been made here while admiring the paintings depicting scenes from the Civil War.
Drive in the other direction from Cannon Falls, and you’ll arrive in Rochester, which is famed as the birthplace of the Mayo Clinic. Join a guided tour of the co-founder Dr. Charles Mayo’s former mansion, Mayowood, and visit the iconic Plummer Building that dominates the Mayo campus. Another architectural landmark not to miss is Plummer House, an early 20th-century, Tudor-style mansion that was once owned by Dr. Henry Stanley Plummer. It’s now open to the public to explore its period-furnished rooms and landscaped grounds.
Whether you want to explore the museums of Minneapolis and Rochester or go birdwatching in the prairies of southeast Minnesota, book an RV in Dakota County and start planning your next vacation.