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Overlooking a picturesque lake near Grand Rapids, the Prairie Lake Campground is an idyllic summer vacation base for swimming, fishing, and canoeing. It’s been specifically designed with families (and their pets) in mind, with a whole host of recreational pursuits available on and around the water.
RV camping at the Prairie Lake Campground includes access to 55 shaded sites, with big rig access and pets welcome to stay with you. Full hookups are available at 26 sites (electric connections are provided at the remainder) while all campers have access to the RV park’s clean restrooms, showers, and dump station.
There are volleyball and basketball courts and a children’s playground that you can utilize, as well as a swimming beach and raft for cooling off in the warmer months. If you want to rent a boat or paddleboard, you can do so at the campground’s rental shack or launch your own vessel from the boat ramp. Forgotten any essentials? The on-site lodge and snack bar is well stocked with basics, including firewood for cooler nights.
The campsites at the Prairie Lake Campground are just 25 minutes’ drive from the Golden Anniversary State Forest, which is a popular winter destination for cross-country skiing. There are two trail systems within the forest to explore - the four-mile River Road Unit Ski Trail and the longer Cowhorn Lake Ski Touring and Hiking Trail. Both are easy enough for beginners and intermediate skiers, making it an ideal destination for families.
Drive in the other direction, and you’ll arrive in the George Washington State Forest, which was established in 1931 on the bicentennial of the birth of the first president of the United States. Its camps, roads, and water conservation projects were constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression, with around 60 miles of horseback riding, hiking, and mountain biking trails to explore. There are also Class I and II trails designated for ATV use and around 200 miles of cross-country skiing and snowmobiling trails if you’re visiting during the winter months. Small lakes dot the forest and provide a setting for canoeing, boating, and fishing while the 165-mile Taconite State Trail awaits for serious trekkers.
The George Washington State Forest borders the Chippewa National Forest, which is home to some of the oldest trees in Minnesota. Head to the Lost Forty area to gaze up at its towering trees, then admire the beautifully preserved Civilian Conservation Corps buildings of Camp Rabideau, which was constructed in the 1930s. Miles of hiking and mountain biking trails traverse the national forest, as do four scenic byways that include the Great River Road and the Edge of the Wilderness National Scenic Byway. The latter stretches for 47 miles past thousands of lakes, black spruce, birch, and white cedar forests, and offers access to the historic Joyce Estate.
Campsites at the Prairie Campground are just ten minutes' drive from Grand Rapids, where you’ll find numerous supermarkets for stocking up on grocery supplies. There are also plenty of gas stations here if you need to fill up your RV rental and an enticing choice of fast-food restaurants, cafes, and bars for a night out.
Grand Rapids serves as the gateway to the Northwoods of Minnesota, with the Forest History Center offering an insight into the region’s past, present, and future. Learn about forest fires at the 1930's Minnesota Forest Service patrol cabin and explore the 1900s-era logging camp, then meet some of the costumed characters that bring the history to life. If you’re an art enthusiast, head to the Macrostie Art Center, where the works of local and regional artists are displayed. Workshops geared towards both adults and kids are regularly held here, with the center located directly across from the Old Central School building.
Grand Rapids is also famed as the birthplace of Judy Garland, who played the role of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. Her childhood home is now preserved as the Judy Garland Historic House, with the on-site museum boasting the most extensive collection of The Wizard of Oz collectibles in the world. After touring her home, you can wander through the surrounding gardens or let the kids run loose in the adjacent Children’s Discovery Center. If you’re a real Judy Garland fan, coincide your visit with the annual Wizard of Oz Festival that’s held at the museum each June and includes live music and special events themed around this iconic film.
Whether you want to explore the museums of Grand Rapids or discover the forests of northern Minnesota, book an RV in Itasca County and start planning your next vacation.