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From Explore MN Tourism


Itasca State Park – Winter Weekend Itinerary

Highlights:

  • Mississippi River headwaters
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Snowshoeing
  • Walking
  • Naturalist events

Great for:

  • Families, friends
  • All levels of abilities

Itasca State Park Visitor Center

Overview

Spend a winter weekend exploring Itasca State Park, where you can visit the headwaters of the Mississippi River State Water Trail.

 

Itasca Winter Suites Itasca Suites Interior

Day One: Morning

Stop at the Jacob V. Brower Visitor Center. Pick up a map and get an update on trail conditions or recent wildlife sightings. Check into your lodging.

Have lunch. Pack a snack and water for your afternoon adventure.

Note: There are no restaurants open in the park in the winter. Vending machines are available in the Jacob V. Brower Visitor Center.


Day One: Afternoon

Attend a naturalist program or hit the trails for a hike, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing under the towering pines. Bring your own equipment or rent snowshoes at the Jacob V. Brower Visitor Center.

Snowshoeing at Itasca State Park

 

Hiking and snowshoeing

Popular snowshoe routes include the Dr. Roberts, Brower and Schoolcraft trails.

Cross-country skiing

A popular and easy ski trail goes from the Jacob V. Brower Visitor Center toward Preachers Grove.

Note: Skiers age 16 and older must carry a signed ski pass on all groomed state park ski trails. Daily passes are available for sale at the Jacob V. Brower Visitor Center.

Warm up

Warm up in the Jacob V. Brower Visitor Center in front of the fire. In the winter, the front lobby stays open as a warming shelter 24 hours a day.

Wander through the building to view exhibits and watch a short movie about the park.


Day One: Evening

Head back to the Douglas Lodge Suites and make dinner.

Mississippi River headwaters in winter

 

Day Two: Morning

Have breakfast. Pack a snack and water for the trail.

Drive to the Mary Gibbs Center at the Headwaters of the Mississippi River State Water Trail. Walk through the outdoor exhibits and down to the water.

Note: The nature store and café are not open in the winter.

Take family photos and selfies in front of the iconic post.

Otter with fish From the headwaters, walk or snowshoe the Schoolcraft Trail for a wide view of Lake Itasca and Schoolcraft Island

 

Return to your vehicle. It's time to check out and head home.


Special notes

Other seasons in the park

Cheerful snowman on Lake Itasca

Now that you're a fan of Itasca State Park in the winter, plan a trip to come see how it changes through the seasons! Here are some of our favorite activities in each season:

 

 

Getting to the park

From Park Rapids: Take U.S. Highway 71 north for 21 miles.

From Bemidji: Go 30 miles south on U.S. Highway 71. Then go 1/10 mile north on State Highway 200.

Note: In winter, the south entrance is closed. The east entrance and the north entrance remain open.

 

Want to explore a nearby park?

If you'd like even more winter adventure, check out Lake Bemidji State Park, approximately 30 miles from Itasca State Park. There you'll find naturalist programs throughout the winter, groomed ski trails, snowshoe rentals and four winterized camper cabins.