Enjoy these alternative North Shore campgrounds


Crescent Lake kayakers paddle to their secluded campsite in this quiet campground.

The terrific north shore Minnesota state parks are incredibly popular for camping, and for good reasons. They are typically in fabulous locations, often near Lake Superior, are next to hiking trails and/or bike trails, and offer amenities like wifi, picnic areas, and trail centers.

On the downside, they fill up quickly! And because all Minnesota state park campsites are now reserveable, come summer or fall they’re often fully reserved. (In fact, we recommend you reserve your state park campsite as soon as possible. Site reservations can be made up to one year in advance.)

So….where else can you camp if you’re making plans late in the season? You need a Plan B.

We recommend hitching up your sense of adventure and heading inland from Highway 61 for a campsite in the Superior National Forest. And bring along a copy of Camping the North Shore for complete information on where to go, how to get there, and the best campsite once you’ve arrived. (Or check out this page for a list of retailers where you can pick up a copy on your way north.) You’ll find detailed directions and descriptions for lovely campgrounds such as Crescent Lake, Two Island Lake, and Temperance River National Forest (not to be confused with Temperance River State Park campground).

Two Island is great for motorboats; some sites have jetties for pulling up your boat.

County Road 7 (Cramer Road) is a gateway to Superior National Forest campgrounds. Head up the Cramer Road to lovely Ninemile Lake campground. From the town of Finland, head east and north on the Cramer Road (County Road 7). The Ninemile Lake campground is about ten miles out of Finland. There are 24 sites here.

If you’re willing to venture off the beaten path, you can even find free rustic campgrounds along trout streams, on the edge of the BWCA. Keep heading inland on County Road 7 to check out the rustic campgrounds at Harriet Lake and Hogback Lake. You might end up all the way inland at Kawishiwi Lake. Rustic SNF campgrounds will be lovely, quiet, and free.

It’s easy to keep returning, year after year, to Minnesota state parks for camping adventures. With a little research you’ll discover there are many other fantastic (and quieter) options for your upcoming camping adventures.


The waterfront Ninemile Lake campground almost always has an open site to enjoy.


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3 Responses

  1. “Wow” I’m sure there was some cussing going on! The holiday weekend and all. I reserved a cabin last February and it seems like gold now. I really feel bad for folks that has reservations at the Gooseberry Falls and others.
    Holiday weeks are only once a year.
    I wonder if folks will remember this at election time?

  2. Carolyn Caufman says:

    The picture from Two Island Lake campground that is on this page: bestnorthshore.com/minnesota-state-parks-are-closed-alternate-north-shore-campgrounds/ — Do you know what campsite # that was taken at? I think it is the one I was in a few years ago and want to go back to, but I can’t remember the number. (My guess from the map is #8)

  3. Andrew Slade says:

    Hi Carolyn,
    While I’m not exactly sure, my best guess would be #13 or #16, but it could be site #8. Sorry I can’t be more precise!

What do you think?