04 Aug Camping at Cascade River State Park
When we realized that our summer was slowly slipping away and we had yet to plan one camping trip, we quickly got our calendars out and snapped up the first open dates we had. Since it ended up being a last minute trip, there wasn’t much left in terms of available campsites. We were looking for a site near the beautiful Lake Superior, and Cascade River State Park happened to have one last site open on our travel dates. Lucky for us, because the park looked absolutely beautiful!
Located between Grand Marais and Lutsen, Cascade River State Park is situated along the Cascade River and on the edge of Lake Superior. There are 18 miles of hiking trails—you can hike up to Lookout Mountain or along the 7-mile trail that runs along the river and waterfalls, and the Superior Hiking Trail also runs through the park. In the winter, there are many miles of cross-country ski trails and snowmobile trails, as well.
As far as the campsites go, there are several backpacking sites in addition to the drive-in campsites. Since we didn’t have all the right equipment to backpack to a site, it worked out well that there was one last drive-in site available.
We weren’t quite sure how we felt about the campground overall—it was a very pretty area, but it just didn’t have quite the secluded feel we were wanting. The campground is set up with more of a “family camping” style, with sites that are close and overlook each other. This can be a great setup, but not when you just want to get away from it all and be in nature. Hearing temper tantrums from the nearby site wasn’t exactly the getaway we had envisioned, but thankfully, the multitude of hiking trails provided us with the escape we needed. Plus, we weren’t complaining because we knew we were lucky to even get a site on such short notice. The campground has showers, toilets and even a dish washing station, so that was exciting, too!
Having a drive-in site did mean one other big plus as well; it meant we were able to bring along a larger cooler and actually cook some delicious meals over the fire! The first night we had sausage and potato pockets, and they would have been great if I had remembered to pack seasonings and butter. But, even without the additional kick, they were surprisingly tasty. All we had to do to make this meal was cut up some brats and baby potatoes—it was one of the easiest meals I’ve made.
Our next meal over the fire was breakfast, and it consisted of hash browns, eggs, ham and cheese. I also added mushrooms to mine—Micah has a bit of an aversion to anything…vegetabley, so he stuck with the basics. We brought frozen hash browns with so all we had to do to make breakfast was crack open some eggs and combine everything in the pouch. It turned out to be an egg bake mix, and again, would have been better with salt, but it was still great! Coffee was also a must, so I brought along some Barney’s Pronto Coffee packs, aka instant coffee, for a morning pick-me-up. This was my first time trying them, and they were surprisingly delicious!
The other meals planned for this trip were quesadillas, pasta and pizza pockets, but unfortunately the rain ended up getting the best of us. Not wanting to play chicken with the imminent rain the weather forecast warned us about, we ended up heading to Lutsen for some childlike fun of alpine slides and gondolas and then into Grand Marais for some restaurant food, instead. Micah grabbed a couple slices of pizza from Sven and Ole’s Pizza and I made my way to Dockside Fish Market for an order of fish and chips made from fresh Lake Superior Herring. After dinner, we watched the sun set over the harbor as the boats swayed in the glassy water. It was so fun to finally make it to Grand Marais—it was a town I had heard so many good things about, so I had been looking forward to making a visit for quite some time. Grand Marais is such an adorable town; I just wish we had allocated an entire afternoon to wandering around, but I guess it gives me a reason to head back again sometime soon.
After dinner, we made it back to our campsite just in time to pack up our belongings before the rain hit. We normally wouldn’t be too concerned about camping in the rain, but we had plans to go camping again in just a few short days, and we didn’t want to bring home wet and soggy gear because we have no where to air it out! Tiny apartments don’t make the best spot for wet camping gear to hang out. Instead, we loaded up our car, and made beds in the back—Micah’s car is a hatchback, so we were actually able to set up camp inside the back with the seats folded down. It wasn’t ideal, but it did make for an easy morning of packing up. After a couple of quick showers and some sleeping bag rolling, we were on our way to explore some of the other state parks in the area.
We made our way to Split Rock State Park, Gooseberry Falls State Park and to end the day, we stopped in Duluth for dinner and a boat ride around Lake Superior and the harbor.
Even though it wasn’t the perfect escape, it was just what we needed to dip our toes back into camping and prepare us for our next camping excursion a few days later. We were able to finally explore an area of Minnesota that has long been on our “to-do” list and it was every bit as gorgeous as I had pictured!
Do you enjoy camping as well? What’s your favorite spot to camp?