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McCarthy Beach State Park

Come to McCarthy Beach State Park and you’ll remember the lakes. The sandy beach on Sturgeon Lake was rated one of the top 17 beaches in North America by Highway’s Magazine. Walk along the half-mile of shoreline, or venture out into the shallow water that extends hundreds of feet into the lake.

Launch a boat on Side Lake or Sturgeon Lake to explore the five connected lakes of the Sturgeon chain. Hikers, mountain bikers, and skiers enjoy scenic trails that wind along pine-covered ridges and through stands of birch. Snowmobilers and horseback riders take advantage of the Taconite State Trail to access miles of trails outside the park. Located near many tourist attractions, McCarthy Beach State Park offers opportunities for both relaxation and exploration.

Tell me more about this park's wildlife, history, geology and landscape.

Visitor Alert!

Side Lake Campground Closed for Construction of New Sanitation Building. Complete closure during week; some limited camping available on weekends.

As a safety measure, the campground is closed completely during the week due to large trucks and equipment using the narrow campground roads. This is likely to last throughout the fall. The Beatrice Lake Campground remains open; see below for more details.

Limited Camping on Weekends:

Unless posted differently here, the campground will be open on a very limited basis from 5 pm on Fridays through 4 pm on Sundays. Sites may be rented earlier in the day but may not be occupied until the construction workers leave.

Campers in the electric sites should be self-contained as there are no outhouses accessible except for in the last campground loop. Electric sites 1 to 11 and 14 to 17 are available. The second campground loop also has no toilets but the third loop has two vault toilets. Rustic camping rates will apply. Please call 218-254-7979 for more information.

The Beatrice Lake Campground (seven miles from the park office) will remain open. This rustic campground has vault toilets and hand pumps. The campground roads are narrow, so this campground is best suited for tents and small trailers. All sites are first-come, first-served on a self-registration basis.

The swimming beach and picnic area on Big Sturgeon Lake are not affected by the construction. The group camp will be open until we get snow.

The boat access and fishing pier in the Side Lake Campground will not be accessible when the contractor is working. Boat launching will be available at the Sturgeon Lake access or at the nearby public water access on the Sturgeon River.

Note: The fall construction was needed to assure completion prior to the 2015 season. We are sorry for this disruption, and look forward to having a much-improved facility in the future.

Park Notes

Be fascinated. Check out the naturalist programs and other activities scheduled at the park.

Virtual Tour:

Take a virtual tour. It's a great tool to help you plan your next trip to the park! Panoramic tour | Snapshot tour

Camping Information:

Narrow Roads (RVers, take note!): The Side Lake Campground has narrow roads with sharp turns and may not be suitable for some large RVs. The road leading to sites 46 - 59 is especially narrow, so even though some of these campsites are long, they may be unsuitable for large rigs.
Download the PDF list of sites with sharp turning radiuses. This is a PDF file. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to download it.

Group Camp: The camp is typically open mid-spring to fall, but water may not be available at the group camp outside of the Memorial Day to Labor Day period.

State Forest Campgrounds: McCarthy Beach State Park manages four state forest campgrounds and day-use areas: Button Box Lake, Thistledew Lake, Togo Horse Camp, and Stony Brook Horse Camp. These campgrounds are located in the George Washington State Forest. Camping is first-come, first-served at these areas. The cost is $14/night for a regular campsite and $16/night at the horse sites. For more information, call the park at 218-254-7979.

Gift Cards:

Purchase a Minnesota State Parks Gift Card.

Don't move firewood!

Burning non-local firewood can spread invasive species, and it's against Minnesota state law. Learn more. Always buy your firewood at the park, or from an approved local vendor. Find firewood vendors for McCarthy Beach State Park.


Bird Checklist This is a PDF file. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to download it. at McCarthy Beach State Park.

Park Highlights

tree Swimming Beach

tree Camping

tree Hiking

tree Horse Trails

tree Picnicking

tree Cross-country skiing/snowmobiling


There are no regular office hours in the fall, but the office will be open when staff is available. If you leave a message at 218-254-7979 we can arrange a time to meet you. Mornings are the best time to reach us by phone.


7622 McCarthy Beach Road
Side Lake, MN 55781

tel: 218-254-7979

Getting There

From the town of Hibbing, take U.S. Highway 169 north to County Road 5, then 16 miles to the park.