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European explorers and fur traders arrived in the Minnesota region that would eventually become Zippel Bay State Park. Largely, travelers and explorers, there were very few permanent settlers on known records until 1887. A gentleman by the name of Wilhelm Zippel arrived in the area with the intention of creating a fishing enterprise on the Lake of the Woods. A few other fishermen came along, and the commercial operations grew. The fishing industry was so successful that it all but wiped out Lake Sturgeon, and today, it’s extremely rare to catch one (if a fisherman is fortunate, he is advised to catch-and-release it). The state of Minnesota purchased some land along the shores of Lake of the Woods, where the original Zippel homestead was and officially established it as a state park in 1959.
The closest town is Baudette, which has a handful of shops and businesses, including a grocery store and a small health center with emergency services. The town is about 20 miles southeast. Baudette claims to be the Walleye capital of the world and, in addition to Willie Walleye, the mascot, several festivals, and events held throughout the year center around the fishing recreation. Search for an RV in Lake of the Woods County and get ready to embark on an RV camping vacation of a lifetime.
Zippel Bay State Park sprawls across 3,000 acres of lush green woods that transform into a blaze of gold and ember in autumn. The terrain is relatively flat with gentle, mild swells here and there, ideal for long, ambling hikes. In winters, when snow transforms the woods into a magical landscape, nearly 20 miles of trails are open to cross-country skiing, and they are kept groomed throughout the season. Snowshoeing is allowed anywhere in the park except on the groomed trails. If adventurers arrive to find that snow has arrived sooner than expected, the park office has a few pairs of cross-country skis and snowshoes available on loan.
As adventurers explore the woods of Zippel Bay State Park, keep a sharp eye out for wildlife. Though they’re rarely seen, timberwolves are often heard, especially at night, as they sing to the moon. Coyotes, black bears, deer, moose, and several other small-game animals are common. In clearings and along the lakeshore, bald eagles and ospreys may occasionally be spotted soaring the vast blue sky. They frequently nest in the area and often hunt fish.
Though the rambling woods are impressive, the true star of the show is the Lake of the Woods. Fish from the banks of the lake or launch a boat into the deep, cold water and cast a lure. Walleye and sauger fish are especially robust, but anglers can also expect to catch perch, muskellunge, and smallmouth bass. There are a couple of boat ramps, a fishing pier, and a swim beach for visitors to enjoy.
Berry-picking is a popular activity for many visitors. There are several varieties that ripen at different times of summer, depending on the weather. They include blueberries, juneberries, chokeberries, wild strawberries, and pin cherries.
Far from hotels and modern amenities, it’s almost a requirement to rent an RV. An Airstream rental makes camping a more comfortable experience, especially along the shores of a lake that is notorious for mosquito swarms. Zippel Bay State Park RV campgrounds have 57 sites total. Each campground has showers and dump stations that are seasonally available. The vault toilets are open year-round.
If amenities are a must-have, nearby Lake of the Woods Campground in Wheelers Point, MN, features a heated swimming pool, a game room ideal for rainy days, and electric hookups.
Alternatively, RV camp in Williams, MN, in Williams City Park Campground, which has full hookups, a playground, and restrooms with showers. This campground is within walking distance of the Williams’ downtown area where ice cream and burger restaurants can be found.
At one of the most northernmost points of Minnesota, it’s easy to think that there isn’t much to see in the area. With the help of a motorhome rental, traveling from town to town is a breeze. Warroad is known as “Hockeytown USA.” The interest in the sport is strong, and several businesses cater to hockey fans. Seven Clans Casino is also based in Warroad, and it features around 600 slot machines and tables with live blackjack and poker games.
It’s MOM’s Way or the highway. MOM is an abbreviation for “Manitoba, Ontario, and Minnesota.” MOM’s Way is a scenic byway that starts in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, passes through northern Minnesota, and ends in Thunder Bay, Ontario. This road follows one of the original fur traders and trappers’ routes for over 400 miles. Note that to travel into Canada requires a valid passport.