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Just a 15-minute drive from the heart of St. Paul, the Lake Elmo Park Reserve Campground is a picture-perfect RV park on the edge of the “Twin Cities.” It offers direct access to 2,165 acres of hilly landscapes and lakes that offer everything from hiking to boating and horseback riding.
RV camping at the Lake Elmo Park Reserve Campground includes access to 80 RV sites, with 20/30/50-amp electric connections. Most sites are back-in, although there are a few pull-through sites, and some have sewer hookups. RVers can take advantage of the picnic tables and fire rings that are provided at each site while modern bathrooms and water are available at the Nordic Center. Pets are not permitted at the RV park.
While camping at the Lake Elmo Park Reserve Campground, you can get active in the 2,165 acres of protected landscapes that surround the RV park. It’s gradually being returned to its natural state when the land was blanketed in forest and prairie, before the arrival of mid-19th-century settlers. Weasels, red foxes, and white-tailed deer inhabit the park while woodpeckers, cottontail rabbits, and pheasants are also regularly spotted. Boaters can launch their vessels on the waters of Eagle Point Lake and Lake Elmo or head north to Sunfish Lake Park, which encompasses 284 acres of woodland, wetland, and prairie wildlife habitat that’s traversed by hiking and snow skiing trails.
A short drive east of the Lake Elmo Park Reserve Campground is the St. Croix Savanna Scientific and Natural Area, which lies on the southern edge of Bayport. It protects one of the best remaining examples of hill prairie along the Lower St Croix National Scenic Riverway, with a bluff that boasts impressive views across the waterway. It’s botanically significant for its documentation of kittentails and James’ Polanisia, which are threatened and endangered (respectively) in Minnesota, as well as featuring a diversity of prairie flowers that ignite during the summer months. If you’re visiting in late autumn, the golden native grasses are quite spectacular, and you may even glimpse swans and eagles migrating down the river.
Just across the border in Wisconsin is the Willow River State Park, which centers around Willow Falls that drops 200 feet into a deep gorge. Originally inhabited by the Santee Sioux and Ojibwe tribes, European settlers moved into the area in the early 19th century, establishing logging and wheat farming industries. Today, it’s one of the most visited state parks in Wisconsin, with boating and fishing both popular on the waters of Little Falls Lake. You can stretch your legs along the Hidden Ponds Nature Trail or the longer Burkhardt Trail, which offers impressive views above the falls from its overlooks. Swimming is also permitted on the southern shore of Little Falls Lake, while rock climbers can tackle the bolted sport climbs on the gorge walls.
Campsites at the Lake Elmo Park Reserve Campground are just 10 minutes' drive from the shops and services of Woodbury, where you’ll find a Walmart and large supermarkets where you can stock up on grocery supplies. There are also gas stations here and in neighboring Oakdale if you need to fill up your RV rental and a wide selection of fast-food restaurants and eateries if you don’t feel like cooking.
One of the reasons the Lake Elmo Park Reserve Campground is so popular is its proximity to the “twin cities” of Minneapolis and St. Paul. St. Paul is home to the Science Museum of Minnesota, which is packed with hands-on exhibits and dinosaur specimens, as well as the Minnesota History Center and the Cass Gilbert–designed Minnesota State Capitol. Architecture enthusiasts shouldn’t miss a visit to the Cathedral of Saint Paul, a Beaux-Arts landmark that dates to 1915 or the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory within Como Regional Park.
A short hop to the west will see you in the heart of Minneapolis, which is dotted with picturesque parks and lakes. Get your cultural fix at the Walker Art Center where contemporary works are displayed and stroll through the adjacent Minneapolis Sculpture Garden where Claes Oldenburg’s famous "Spoonbridge and Cherry" sculpture is on show. The Mill City Museum is the place to head if you’re interested in the region’s industrial heritage, while the sprawling Mall of America boasts more than 500 stores to satisfy your shopping needs.
Whether you want to get cultured in the museums of Minneapolis and St. Paul or escape to the prairies surrounding Lake Elmo, book an RV in Washington County and start planning your next vacation.