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Explore Minnesota’s Itasca State Park

June 14, 2021

5 Ways to Explore Minnesota’s Itasca State Park

Itasca State Park is the second oldest state park in the country and a must-see for nature lovers. Stay at the Little Norway Resort and explore the trails that bring you into the park. Visit the Mississippi Headwaters, watch for birds, kayak, and get the best view of the park from Aiton Heights Fire Tower.


The best way to explore the 30,000 miles of Itasca State Park is simply by walking the trails. Itasca State Park has some of the oldest pine trees in the country. This is thanks to the sanctuary established within the park to preserve the integrity of the area before logging. Located on the western side of Lake Itasca, make sure to walk the trails here to enjoy the diverse vegetation and wildlife that resides here.

Mississippi River Headwaters

The Mississippi River starts its over-2,000-mile journey in Itasca State Park. Hop across the rocks where Lake Itasca ends and the Mississippi begins. Or you can choose to wade across the Mighty Mississippi in knee-deep water. Make sure to stop at the Mary Gibbs Visitor Center before you leave to fully grasp the historical and cultural importance of the Mississippi River


Itasca State Park is the perfect place for people who want to see some unique birds in Minnesota. There are over 200 species in the park that range from common to rare. The trails surrounding the Mississippi Headwaters and the Schoolcraft Trail are excellent places to watch for birds. This checklist provides helpful tips for bird identification throughout the park.

Aiton Heights Fire Tower

This fire tower has been standing since 1922, serving as a lookout for fires that may start in the forest. It’s a short hike from the Douglas Lodge, where you can stop for lunch after your hike. Follow the Deer Path from the parking lot for easy access to the fire tower. There’s no better view of Itasca State Park than the Aiton Heights Fire Tower—we highly recommend checking it out.

Itasca Sports

Trails are not the only way to explore the park. Itasca Sports provides rentals for bikes, kayaks, canoes, and paddleboats. For bigger groups, rent a pontoon and relax on the water. Itasca Sports has rentals for however you want to explore the park. 

There are many ways to explore Itasca State Park, including hiking, biking, bird watching, kayaking, and more. At the end of the day, return to your cabin at Little Norway Resort and unwind. Book your reservation on our website or call 218-732-5480.

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