Spring reels in the fishermen for the May fishing openers of walleye, northern pike, bass, and panfish. The park is in full bloom including a vast array of wildflowers. Birding is also a popular spring activity as the varying species return from migration.
Lake Itasca is a popular location for summer activities in Minnesota. Fishing, canoeing, boating, and kayaking equipment are always accessible. On land recreation consists of biking via the Heartland Trail, horseback riding, and hiking. A 9.6-mile section of the North Country National Scenic Trail passes through the Park’s southern tier.
The Chippewa National Forest, located in the heart of northern Minnesota, is a celebration of seasons, culture and environment.
The Chippewa National Forest is the first National Forest established east of the Mississippi River in 1908 and is the home to more lakes and wetlands than any other National Forest. The forest was originally known as the Minnesota National Forest. The name was changed in 1928 to honor the original inhabitants. Today, the Forest and Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe share goals and offer visitors a chance to experience Anishinabe culture and learn about the past from prehistory to early, logging-era and Civilian Conservation Corps days.
The mighty Mississippi River begins its winding journey to the Gulf of Mexico as a mere 18-foot wide knee-deep river in Itasca State Park. From here the river flows north to Bemidji, where it turns east, and then south near Grand Rapids. It will flow a total of 694 miles before working its way out of Minnesota.
Within the park, people enjoy walking or floating on inner tubes the first half mile of the river, which meanders at a slow 1.2 miles per hour during the warm summer months. In the winter, you can still see the water flowing over the rocks, as warmer spring water keeps the area ice free.
Taking your picture next to the iconic headwaters post is a must when you visit the park! The historic marker dates back to the 1930s, and indicates the Mississippi River’s total mileage at 2,552 miles. Since then the river’s course has been shortened and altered by flooding and channeling. Every summer canoeists leave Lake Itasca to begin their river adventures, with hopes of reaching the Gulf of Mexico over 2,318 miles away.
The Forest contains an area known as the Lost Forty. This area, which has a total of 144 acres, was accidentally mapped as part of Coddington Lake when the original maps of the region were laid out in 1882. As a result of the mapping error, the Lost Forty was never logged. It contains some of the oldest forest in the state, with some trees more than 350 years old. Less than two percent of Minnesota’s total forested land today is such old growth forest. These unique qualities offer an abundance of outdoor recreational opportunities throughout the year.