Itasca: Where it all began

Approximately 50 miles of hiking trails will take visitors through some of the most scenic and serene parts of Itasca State Park.

The beauty of Minnesota is that you don't have to look nor travel far to find a fabulous state park to explore.

Arguably rising to the top among a host of gems is Itasca State Park, about 20 miles north of Park Rapids. Established in 1891 and the oldest in Minnesota, Itasca is steeped in history, culture and wonderment.

Towering pines at Preacher's Grove, the Itasca Indian Cemetery and Wilderness Drive await. And, of course, you'll find the headwaters of the mighty Mississippi River.

And whether you visit for a day or a week, your senses will be stimulated and your stressors stilled as you immerse yourself in Mother Nature at its finest and soak it all in.

About the writer:Elizabeth Nida Obert is a Post-Bulletin senior staff photographer.


Getting there:About a five-hour drive north from Rochester.

Where you stayed:We pitched a tent in one of the 223 campsites. Other lodging in the park includes cabins and the historic Douglas Lodge.

Where to eat:The Douglas Lodge Restaurant, conveniently located in the park, provides hot and tasty meals and is open Memorial Day weekend until the first Sunday in Oct.

Side trips:Park Rapids, where I recommend dinner at the Y Steak House and a walk down Main Street. I also recommend an afternoon in Bemidji, where bike enthusiasts will enjoy a ride around Lake Bemidji.

Your travel tip:Itasca State Park is the most popular in Minnesota. If you want to avoid summer crowds, consider visiting off-season.

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