Formed by a massive glacier that scraped its way north some 10,000 years ago, Moose Lake, MN, and the neighboring lakes are precious gems, home to hundreds of birds and wildlife. The local residents, recognizing the value in protecting the natural resources, petitioned the state to purchase land to preserve for the future. In 1971, Moose Lake State Park was officially established with an initial purchase of a few hundred acres. The state park was later expanded with additional land purchases. Today, it’s just shy of 1,200 acres, surrounding a small lake called Echo Lake.
Moose Lake and the surrounding areas were devastated by a large forest fire in 1918 that was started by sparks from locomotive coal engines. The massive fire blazed across over 250,000 acres and destroyed 38 small towns and communities. It caused around $73 million in damages, roughly $1.22 billion in today’s dollars. The unfortunate accident was no doubt compounded by a rare drought that had struck Minnesota, turning normally lush fields and meadows into tinder.
One thing this region is known for is its annual county fair, which is one of the longest-running fairs in the state. Started in 1890, the fair has been held annually without fail in Barnum, usually in mid-August. Although the events change with each passing year, a few traditional events die hard. In addition to horse races, one of the few in the state that allows amateurs, the fair also holds tractor pulls and livestock judging events.
The closest large town is Cloquet, about 25 miles north. Between dozens of state forests and parks and its proximity to the larger towns north, it’s smart to search for an RV in Carlton County, MN and head out on an amazing outdoor adventure.
Although most of the original white and Norway red pines that once blanked the flat countryside are gone, wiped out by the catastrophic fire that swept through the area, they’ve been slowly making a comeback, helped along by the local residents who planted hundreds of saplings. Though the trees are only a few decades, they provide shelter to the local wildlife who roam the forest floor. White-tailed deer and other small mammals like porcupines, skunks, and even industrious beavers roam the woods. Echo Lake, alongside with neighboring Moosehead and Moose Lakes, are popular stopover spots for migratory birds and waterfowl. Dozens of avian species live on the shores year-round, including trumpeter swans, mallards, and wood ducks, and common loons.
Fishing and other water recreation are popular activities for both locals and out-of-town visitors. Panfish, largemouth bass, walleye, and northern pike are common species caught by anglers. If fishermen lack the necessary gear, the park rangers operate a small rental center, lending out fishing equipment, birding kits (binoculars, checklist, bird-identification book), rowboats, canoes, and kayaks.
Rockhounds and hikers will enjoy exploring this park. Minerals, agates, in particular, are abundant in deposits around the lake and near the five miles of hiking trails that pass through open meadows, alongside marshes, and around small ponds. Winter can be harsh and long in this part of Minnesota. Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and ice-fishing are enjoyed by many during these long months.
Camping at Moose Lake State Park
Skip the hotel and get closer to nature without sacrificing comfort when you rent an RV. Wake up to the sound of birdsong and waves lapping at the shore of Moose Lake State Park campground. The small campground wraps around the curve of the lake, and many sites have waterfront views. Out of 33 drive-in sites, 20 have electric hookups. Showers and flush toilets are available only during the high season, but the vault toilet is open year-round.
If space runs out, which can happen in summers, there are a few private campgrounds in the area. Near Mahtowa, MN, the Bent Trout Lake Campground features a park-like setting overlooking a private spring-fed lake. Most sites have electric and water hookups, and there are boats available for rent.
For even more options, consider camping at Banning State Park or frequenting the Jay Cook State Park campground.
Exploring the Area
Although the favored activities for locals and visitors center around the great outdoors, there’s plenty of places to see in the area, and exploring them all is made easy with a rental motorhome. The Moose Lake Agate and Geological Center showcases some of the minerals and gems found in Minnesota, including Minnesota’s gemstone, the Lake Superior Agate. It also has a hands-on interactive area, where visitors can learn how to find gems in the wild and at a gift store.
Duluth, a small, bustling city alongside Lake Superior, has several attractions for visitors to enjoy. The Great Lakes Aquarium features the aquatic life found in the massive freshwater lakes, including cownose rays, zebra sharks, and lampreys (an invasive species), otters, mudpuppies, and a resident bald eagle. Visitors, young and old alike, can interact with small critters in the touch pools, too. Duluth also has a rich art, theater, and music scene to explore.
Not far from Duluth, in Carlton, the clatter of dice and cheers of gamblers fill the air. Black Bear Casino Resort, run by Lake Superior Chippewa, features thousands of slot machines, dozens of card and table games, and regular cutthroat games of bingo.
Stay at Moose Lake State Park campground, where you are able to enjoy the glorious sunsets in the west, and kick up your heels outside a Duluth camper rental.
Moose Lake State Park, MN is the perfect spot to start your next road trip.
There are many popular rentals in Moose Lake State Park. Outdoorsy's Moose Lake 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.