Just because the air is cold and the ground is covered in snow doesn’t mean you have to stay inside all winter. Winter camping is a popular activity in Minnesota, and this year you can join in the fun. Check out some of the recommendations below in order to gather your gear, learn the basics and choose a cold-weather campsite.
Winter Camping Supplies
12160 Technology Drive
Eden Prairie, MN 55334
www.gandermountain.comIn order to survive the cold winter months at a campsite, campers should make sure they have, at a minimum, sleeping bags, warm clothes, plenty of food and a first-aid kit. Those who wish to explore should bring warm water-proof clothing and any gear for activities, such as snowshoes, cross-country skis or crampons. The majority of these supplies can be purchased at any sporting goods store, though the staff in the Eden Prairie Gander Mountain seem to be especially helpful.
Winter Camping Classes
750 W. American Blvd.
Bloomington, MN 55420
Do you need a winter survival class before venturing into the woods for camping? Would you like to learn the basics of snowshoeing, skijoring or ice climbing? The REI store in Bloomington offers classes like these, and several more. The schedule is constantly being updated and prices vary based on the skills you wish to learn. Visit the REI website for more information about available winter survival skill classes, winter camping classes and winter activity classes. Some classes require registration.
Afton State Park
6959 Peller Ave. S.
Hastings, MN 55033
www.dnr.state.mn.usLocated in Hastings, Afton State Park has several cabins available in the winter months. Each single-room cabin is equipped with bunk beds, heat and electricity. There are four year-round cabins at Afton State Park, and some of the cabins are wheelchair accessible. Two of the cabins sleep five people, while the remaining two cabins sleep six people. Pets are not welcome in the cabins. Each year, Afton State Park hosts several events to help familiarize visitors with showshoeing, cross-country skiing and other winter activities. Visit the website for more information.
Lake Maria State Park
11411 Clementa Ave. N.W.
Monticello, MN 55362
For a rustic and secluded winter camping adventure, check out the cabins at Lake Maria State Park. You’ll be able to avoid camping in a tent on the snow, but that doesn’t mean this camping trip is a walk in the park. Well, actually, it is. In order to get to your cabin, you will likely have to hike more than a mile from where you parked. Be sure to bring sleds in order to carry your supplies across the distance. Once you reach the cabin, though, you will realize that the trip was well worth it. Situated on the lakeside, the one-room cabins are simple but cozy with two bunk beds, fireplaces and all the amenities you need for your camping trip. Don’t forget to make a reservation.
Wild River State Park
39797 Park Trail
Center City, MN 55012
www.dnr.state.mn.usLocated along the St. Croix River, the Wild River State Park is one of the most beautiful winter parks in Minnesota. In addition to offering six cabins similar to those available at Lake Maria State Park and Afton State Park, Wild River State Park also has a guesthouse. The guesthouse has a living room, dining room, kitchen and fireplace, according to the park’s website. Visit the website to make a reservation.
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Kristyn Gansen is a freelance writer covering all things Minneapolis. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.