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Minnesota State Parks has a new campground and we were lucky enough to grab a spot this summer in our A-Frame camper! We’ll briefly cover it’s amenities and new features to give you a preview before you head that way.

Split Rock Lighthouse State Park is one of the most popular parks on the north shore of Lake Superior. Previous to this new addition, camping options included drive-in, backpack and cart-in sites. With many people adopting and upgrading camping and recreational vehicles during the pandemic, this park expansion helps meet the increased demand for tent and RV camping spots.

We love this park and have hiked and have stayed in the car, backpacking, cart-in and group campsites. You can read about a few of those trips here.

In early April, I had my finger on the reservation button and snagged a spot for my husband, the pup and I on 4th of July weekend.

Lets go!

Shipwreck Creek Campground:

  • Construction started in 2019 and opened on June 1, 2022.
  • 46 electric campsites
  • Cell phone reception is spotty/non-existent depending on carrier.
  • Many campsites are excavated/built into natural rock outcroppings to provide separation and privacy. It will take a while for the trees to fill in, and still feels a bit open.
  • REALLY NICE shower and restroom Building + a few vault toilets
  • NO WATER hook up. You will need to fill up your camper elsewhere (we swung through Gooseberry 5 miles away). But there are water spigots for general camp use.
  • Direct access to Split Rock Wilds: 21 miles of mountain bike/shared use trails of varying levels of difficulty, and the Gitchi Gami State Trail.
  • Paved trail access to the Split Rock Lighthouse and 12 miles of hiking trails.

To read more about the planning and history of the Park’s long-range plan, check out this article from the Star Tribune.

The first thing you’ll notice as you drive into camp is the long windy asphalt road. A lot of thought and planning has gone into the entry of this campground and it is set back far enough away from Highway 61 that we couldn’t hear it when we stayed there. Many North Shore campsites are right along the busy road and it’s easy to hear from camp.

We also noticed a lot of native plantings at the entry and nice signage making it easy to find your way around. One of the most noticeable amenities of the campground is the bathroom and shower building that is centrally located at the trail head and entrance to the campsites. It was so new that the paint was still drying when we were there and it was very clean, modern and much appreciated. Luxurious, even…

Due to the weather forecast I left my bike at home on this trip but this campsite is very bike friendly with wide paved roads and easy access to the brand new shared use/bike trails.

When I received the bicycle trail map at the time of check-in I was pleasantly surprised to see all the work that has gone into the miles of these carefully planned trails. Note: the Split Rock Wilds trails are shared use, but seem more geared to cycling, so…keep your eyes peeled for bikers if you are going to be hiking on them.

A Hub for the North Shore

Lake Superior has her own weather patterns, and can be unpredictable at times and whipped up chilly temps and rain for the weekend. We joked that it felt more like the gales of November than the 4th of July.

The weather made for a relaxing trip of napping, reading books, painting and using the camper as a hub for visiting friends and exploring other favorite spots in the area. I hiked down to the Lake at sunset to catch a good view of the lighthouse on our first night at camp, a site I never grow tired of.

Day 2 was spent connecting with new and old friends and getting to hear stories of their summer camping trips. They showed us photos of the Northern Lights in Grand Marais from the previous night! It was too cloudy to see them where we were and the local fireworks were canceled due to rain. A sharp contrast to our Northwest Minnesota State Park Tour, two weeks earlier, which involved a tornado, dust storm, severe weather, and extreme heat.

On my way back to camp, I stopped by Gooseberry State Park to see the Falls. It is Minnesota’s most popular State Park, and I wanted to see it in the rain. The visitor center was hopping, but no one was at the iconic waterfall, and it felt like such a blessing to get to appreciate it’s roaring beauty in the rain (and have the place all to myself!)

That night, I enjoyed hot tea in the cozy camper with my husband and pup, and painted my own view of the Aurora Borealis with my field watercolor kit. It been a long time since I’ve seen the Northern Lights and it was a fun way to brighten up my palette and remember their magic.

Our final day cleared up a little and we spent the morning packing up. We made a quick stop by the big lake to resupply 2 water jugs for artistic purposes. I love the feeling of painting with wild water from lakes and rivers, and Lake Superior water is my favorite.

Have you been to Split Rock Lighthouse State Park? Checked out the new Campground? Its a great new addition to our beloved state parks and totally worth checking out.

Stay tuned for an upcoming post on my latest backpacking adventure in the Boundary Waters and art updates!

Happy Trails!

~WP

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