If you haven’t yet experienced the magic of Itasca State Park in Minnesota, this is the perfect chance to do so. Itasca State Park, famous as being where the headwaters of the Mighty Mississippi River are located, is simply magical. In summertime, there are trails to bike and hike, a fire tower to climb, and acres of majestic pine forest. In mid-September, fall colors are starting to creep in, giving the park a magical autumn glow that simply needs to be seen in person. By December, the snow will start to fly and we’ll be talking about snowshoeing and cross-country skiing through the park. The park and its visitor centers are open year-round.
Seven Things to do in Itasca State Park Near Leech Lake, Minnesota
Itasca State Park in Minnesota was first established in 1891. It’s actually Minnesota’s oldest state park. There are more than 100 lakes within Itasca State Park’s 32,000 acres, but it is most notable for its access to the headwaters of the Mississippi River.
Standing under the majestic, towering pines on these historic grounds is an experience unto itself. Beyond that, here are 7 of our favorite things to do in Itasca State Park:
Enjoy a cup of coffee in the historic Douglas Lodge. The lodge dates back to 1904 and is a beautiful place to sit back, relax, and soak up the history and views all around you.
Enjoy the wildlife. Itasca State Park is home to a great variety of wildlife. This includes bird species like loons, grebes, cormorants, herons, ducks, owls, hummingbirds, woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches, kinglets, vireos, tanagers, finches, and warblers. Spend enough hours in the park, and you’re likely to see some deer, beaver, porcupine, black bears, and wolves as well.
Drive along Wilderness Drive. This scenic drive offers a great tour of the park. Admire the tall north woods trees, keep an eye out for wildlife, and appreciate this incredibly beautiful and untouched part of Minnesota.
Take a hike! There are 49 miles of trails, many of which take you to some of the most scenic parts of the park. A great place to hike to is the old fire tower. Climb to the top, and enjoy a spectacular birds-eye view of Itasca State Park (especially the vibrant colors in autumn). To get a sense for what northern Minnesota was like before logging drastically changed the landscape, hike the half-mile Bohall Trail. There are more giant pines along the Nicollet Trail.
Take a boat tour of Lake Itasca. As you travel along the lake, enjoy narration provided by local naturalists, who will point out local flora and fauna and recount the Native American and logging history of the area. Boat tours close for the season early in October, so don’t miss your opportunity this year!
Don’t miss your chance to stand at the Headwaters of the Mighty Mississippi. This is where this incredible river begins its 2,318-mile journey to the Gulf of Mexico. Those willing to brave the waters can walk across the river on top of rocks.
Leech Lake Bed and Breakfast Resort is located near the town of Walker Minnesota, on the shores of beautiful Leech Lake. We’re approximately 45 minutes from Itasca State Park, but the perfect place to make your home base while you visit this exceptionally beautiful part of Minnesota. This private lakefront getaway is perfect for adventure, romance, and relaxation. No matter the time of year, you’ll find the Leech Lake Bed and Breakfast is the perfect getaway.