McCarthy Beach State Park

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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 snowshoers 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

Drinking Water Notification

Water monitoring has detected contaminants in two of the wells that supply drinking water to the park, and the water is not safe for consumption at the Side Lake campground including the shower and bathroom, fish cleaning house, and water spigots throughout the campground. Visitors may still use the water for showering and hand washing with soap, but should avoid consuming or using the water for tooth brushing, dish washing or fish cleaning unless it has been heated at a rolling boil for one minute. Potable water is located at the tank filling spigot adjacent to the dump station, and the group campsite and beach building at McCarthy Beach. We are actively pursuing a solution. Please check this site for the latest information.

Naturalist Programs

Nature Walk Series 4– Introduction to Phenology

July 27, 2017 6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. Join us for the fourth in a series of exciting hikes to discover the wild world in the woods! John Latimer, one of Minnesota’s leading phenologists, will lead an informal walk through McCarthy Beach State Park looking and listening for birds, blossoms, butterflies, and more! Participants may wish to bring a water bottle, sunscreen/bug spray, and binoculars. People of all ages are invited to participate. Please call the Park Office for meeting location.

Wolves at our Door

August 5, 2017 7:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. Join the International Wolf Center in the picnic shelter for an engaging and unbiased program to help individuals better understand the complicated issues surrounding wolves. This presentation will cover subjects including wolf biology, behavior, predator/prey relationships, mythology and fear of wolves, and challenges wildlife face and the importance of wildland habitat

Visit ParkFinder for an overview of recreation opportunities available statewide.

Park Notes

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:

Reservations are now required for all campsites in the Side Lake campground. Beatrice Lake campground is still first come, first served.

Click the Camping & Lodging link to the left on this page for more information about camping reservations, including same-day reservation 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 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 Stony Brook Horse Camp and day-use area. Scenic State Park now manages Button Box Lake, Togo Horse Camp and Thistledew Lake Campgrounds. These campgrounds are all 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 218-274-7200.

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 Snowshoeing/snowmobiling


Office Hours: June - August: Thursday - Monday 9 a.m. - 8 p.m. Tuesday - Wednesday 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.


7622 McCarthy Beach Road
Side Lake, MN 55781

tel: 218-274-7200

Getting There

From the town of Hibbing, take U.S. Highway 169 north to 73 in Chisholm. Follow Hwy 5 in Chisholm 16 miles to the park.