Camping in Minneapolis is a wonderful adventure, as there are so many beautiful natural areas to explore. The Land of 10,000 Lakes has many options when it comes to outdoor activities, including visiting stunning waterfalls, paddling across the St. Croix River, and finding turtles basking in the sun.

To give you the best camping experience, we’ve gathered a list of the 5 best campgrounds under an hour away from the Twin Cities. These campsites range from rustic to modern amenities, but all of them promise an unforgettable experience. Whether you’re planning a solo weekend getaway or a fun family trip, you’re sure to find a campground in Minneapolis that’s just right for you!

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1. Willow River Campground

Distance from Minneapolis: 34 miles (42 minutes by car)

Types of Campsites: Tent, Trailer, and RV

Open Dates: All year-round

Reservation and Cost: Reservations are recommended, starts at $20/night for no power and $35/night with power

Located on a lake on the Wisconsin border, Willow River Campground offers the perfect escape for Minnesotans. Here, you have access to 13 miles of hiking trails that depart directly from the campground and take you along Willow River and Willow Falls. The best part is that there are a variety of hikes so you can choose one that fits your ability level. Some trails have steeper inclines for more experienced hikers, while others have flatter trails designed for kids. 

After your hike, make sure you check out the breathtaking falls. There’s also a wonderful spot to cool off under the cascade where you can sit and take a breather. Just make sure you pack some water sandals so you can explore the waterfall! Locals say the Willow River Campgrounds are very well maintained, as the site is groomed regularly, bathrooms are clean, and the fire pit is cleaned out. Additionally, you can grab some firewood and fire starters at the main office to complete your authentic camping experience with a bonfire. What more could you ask for?

2. Lebanon Hills Campground

Distance from Minneapolis: 18.5 miles (26 minutes by car)

Types of Campsites: Tent and RV

Open Dates: All year-round

Reservation and Cost: Reservations are recommended, starts at $20/night 

Trying to find the closest location for camping in Minneapolis? Look no further than the Lebanon Hills Campground, located right on the border of St. Paul and Eagan. This campground is our top recommendation for anyone who wants to set up camp while they explore the rest of the Twin Cities. At Lebanon Hills, you’ll be sleeping under the stars and waking up in the wild of Dakota County. The entire campground is surrounded by the woodlands of Lebanon Hills Regional Park, which gives you access to plenty of outdoor activities like hiking, paddling, and biking. 

If you’re ready to head out of the camp, you’ll have a variety of things to do, as you’re only a short drive away from downtown Minneapolis, Mall of America, and the Minnesota Zoo. You can even find a beach, several water parks, and some golf courses nearby. Lebanon Hills is the perfect urban camping experience, with just a little bit more traffic than other Twin Cities campgrounds. 

3. Baker Park Reserve Campground

Distance from Minneapolis: 22 miles (28 minutes by car)

Types of Campsites: Tent, RV, and Cabins

Open Dates: April 22 to October 23

Reservation and Cost: Reservations are recommended, starts at $21/night 

For those who want a traditional lake-side camping experience, Baker Park Reserve Campground is the best place to go camping in Minneapolis. It’s located about a half-hour away from downtown, along the shores of Lake Independence. At Baker Park, you can spend your day on the water with the many rentals available, including kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, and canoes. If paddling isn’t your thing, go for a swim on the beach or catch some fish off one of the docks. Locals say that this is an excellent fishing spot, and to keep an eye out for good-sized walleye, muskie, and yellow perch.

After you’ve gotten you fill of water spots, rent a bike and spend your evening exploring the bike trails before settling back at your comfortable campsite. Even though reservations are recommended, they are not required to stay at any of the 203 sites at Baker Park. Apart from the regular RV and tent campsites, there are also 5 fully serviced camper cabins for a comfortable camping experience with zero hassle (or mosquitos!)

4. Minneapolis Southwest KOA Holiday

Distance from Minneapolis: 32 miles (33 minutes by car)

Types of Campsites: Tent, RV, and Cabins

Open Dates: April 28 to October 9

Reservation and Cost: Reservations are recommended, starts at $35/night 

If you want to turn your camping experience into a resort-like vibe, our top recommendation is the Southwest KOA Holiday near Shakopee. Here, you can enjoy picturesque shaded trees, landscaped grounds, pull-thru campsites, and even cozy little air-conditioned cabins. Not only is Southwest KOA Holiday a short half hour drive from downtown, it’s also incredibly close to Valleyfair Amusement/Water Park and the Mystic Lake Casino, making for some fun off-site experiences.

Even if you don’t want to leave the campground, there are still plenty of things to do, like enjoying the large indoor swimming pool, playground, mini-golf, or bike rentals. The best part about camping here is their wide range of planned activities like arts and crafts and going on hayrides every week. Oh, and did we mention there’s free Wi-Fi all the time? Trust us, Minneapolis Southwest KOA Holiday is the ultimate urban camping experience for people of all ages!

5. William O’Brian State Park

Distance from Minneapolis: 42 miles (48 minutes by car)

Types of Campsites: Tent and RV

Open Dates: All year-round

Reservation and Cost: Reservations are recommended, starts at $17/night

Even though this campground is a little further away from downtown Minneapolis, the drive down to William O’Brian State Park is definitely worth it. It’s located right on the St. Croix River, and the entire park has a river-side trail loop that lets you explore the most scenic locations. When camping at William O’Brian, you have to go on the Riverside Trail that takes you right along Lake Alice and through a beautiful, 100 year old pine forest. On your way, you’re likely to see some adorable chipmunks, hawks, and if you’re lucky, even a bald eagle.

If that wasn’t enough, other popular activities include taking a swim at the beach, going canoeing, or casting your fishing pole to catch walleye, pike, trout, and bass. At this State Park, you can bring your RV, set up a tent in the campground, or simply rent one of the 4 camper cabins that are fully air-conditioned for year-round use. Just make sure you don’t forget to reserve your campsite in advance!

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