happyly approved

Itasca State Park

Itasca State Park, Main Park Drive, Park Rapids, MN, USA

Daily from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m.


seasonal-activities, bike, hike, outdoor-adventures, camping

See the Headwaters of the Mississippi in Itasca State Park.

Located near Park Rapids and Bemidji, Minnesota, Itasca State Park is one of the best state parks in Minnesota! This stunning state park also contains the headwaters of the Mississippi Headwaters. From this gentle trick, the mighty Mississippi flows to the Gulf of Mexico.

At the trailhead for the hike to the Mississippi Headwaters, there is an interpretive center, the Mary Gibbs Mississippi Headwaters Center, for families to learn more about the Mississippi River, as well as the flora and fauna in the surrounding area. The indoor portion is not open during the winter, but there are still plenty of facts to learn in the outdoor pavilion. The hike to the headwaters is mostly paved, flat, and short (1.5 miles out and back). It is accessible for most people, is wheelchair accessible, and is very doable with a stroller. Follow the Doctor Roberts Trail and you'll arrive at the Old Timer's Cabin.

In addition to a variety of hiking trails (49 miles of trails), families can find opportunities to camp, bike (16 miles of trails), cross-country ski (13 miles of trails), snowmobile (31 miles of trails), fish, bird watch, climb a fire tower (seasonal), and several historic sites and markers. Families should also visit the Itasca Wilderness Sanctuary, which includes some amazing examples of Minnesota plants and wildlife.

Other points of interest located in Itasca State Park include an old-growth pine at Preacher's Grove, the Peace Pipe Vista, a historic bison kill site, and (if you can believe it) over 100 lakes.

Families looking to stay here can look into the Douglas Lodge, which includes rental rooms, cabins & the Itasca Suites. Camping is also an option. Be sure to book early!


Good for All Ages Hiking Outdoor Activities Camping Fishing Water Views
Thoughtfully captured by:
Antonia Grant
Antonia Grant is a life-long learner and avid adventurer based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She loves equipping families with the tools and confidence they need to travel and adventure together. Antonia is also a strong believer in the beauty of multigenerational relationships and travel. Her main adventure buddies are her husband and young daughter. As a family, they love trying new restaurants, hiking, and traveling the world! By day she works at Carleton College, by night she is a Minneapolis ambassador for happyly. She’s always seeking new adventures to write about and share. Connect with Antonia on Instagram @knead.to.roam!
More activities by Antonia
Fantastic park and playground for all ages located in Bloomington, near the Mall of America.
Low-key playground and field nestled within a charming Bloomington neighborhood.
Rustic hiking trail in Minneapolis, along the Mississippi River.

Recommended Gear