Lake Bemidji State Park
By Deborah Locke, DNR Information Officer
Wouldn’t you agree that anyone or anything that reaches 100 years of age deserves a shoutout?
Lake Bemidji State Park in north central Minnesota is 100 years old this year and starts its centennial celebration on April 22, 2023. A presentation on park history and highlights happens at 1 p.m. that day, followed by cake, ice cream and music at 2:30 p.m.
I know what you’re thinking. Why drive four hours for one party? But there’s way more to see and enjoy up there than cake and ice cream. If you plan ahead, a couple of overnights in the Bemidji area will create memories for you and your family that will last for the rest of your lives. Pete Harrison, Park Manager, said that new visitors are welcomed with open arms to Lake Bemidji State Park.
“Whether they drive up for an afternoon, or stay for a week, we are more than happy to introduce new visitors to the park,” he said. A few of the park and area highlights are below.
- Check out the sweetly named Sundew Pond near the north terminus of the Paul Bunyan State Trail, and then check out the popular trail. Hike, bike, rollerblade or push a stroller through this 1.5-mile portion of the trail, which is long enough in its entirety to impress Paul himself. You can rent bikes from the park office but call ahead for availability. You can also rent boats, canoes, or kayaks.
- A short trip north from the trail to the Bass Lake overlook offers a breathtaking view.
- Consider the park’s famous quarter-mile bog walk. A bog is a delicate wetland formed by the last ice age and made up of peat and other plant life. You can follow the winding bog boardwalk lined by spruce and tamarack trees for a look at emerging spring plants.
- An hour north and east of the park is the “Lost 40” located within the Chippewa National Forest. Due to a mistake in map-making in the 1800’s, this plot of land still contains 300- to 400-year-old pine. The majestic trees were spared from removal by the logging industry.
- Be sure to visit the city of Bemidji, and its statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. Located 7.5 miles from Lake Bemidji State Park, the city features restaurants, shopping, and recreation.
Lake Bemidji State Park also offers naturalist-led interpretive programs that are usually free of charge but may require registration, so check the park website. There are ample opportunities for camping and fishing in the warmer months. You’ll have easy access to Lake Bemidji for fishing. Additionally, the park has a protected marina with boat slips that are available on a first-come, first-served basis. As for lodging, you can refer to the park website for information on making a campsite or camper cabin reservation.
Every person in Minnesota deserves their own state park, a place to recreate, develop skills, connect with nature, and just breathe. Make the Bemidji area and Lake Bemidji State Park a destination for you and your family each year. This new travel adventure could begin modestly — with a piece of birthday cake on April 22nd.
Typically, Minnesota State Parks require a $7 daily vehicle permit, or a $35 annual permit. April 22, 2023 is one of four “Free Park Days” in 2023, so you can get in without a vehicle permit on that day. To purchase an online permit on other days, go to mndnr.gov/parkfees
For information about parks including Lake Bemidji State Park, go to mndnr.gov/parks