Jay Cooke State Park

Exploring Northern Minnesota at Jay Cooke State Park!

A few weeks ago, Jake and I set out for a weekend backpacking trip in Northern Minnesota. We made reservations over six months in advance and before we knew it the weekend arrived! Since getting married, most of our birthday and Christmas presents have been related to backpacking and camping. We have been saving our pennies, while paying off student loans, to afford regional trips. Camping is always cheaper than getting a hotel and provides the outdoor adventures we crave!

Jay Cooke State Park is two hours north of the Twin Cities. Without having to take off work or spend a lot of time in the car, it was the perfect weekend getaway. Throughout our whole relationship, Jacob talked about how much he loved this state park growing up. While he is known for his extreme biases, I trusted this was a place we had to visit together. We loaded up the vehicle and hit the road Saturday morning in an effort to beat the looming forecast.

With our backpack site over two miles in, we needed to book it if we wanted to set up camp before the storms hit. After only one wrong turn, we made it to the site ten minutes before the floodgates opened. We spent most of our evening inside the tent – playing games, cuddling, chatting about life and telling each other stories. It is not often we are all alone with literally no distractions. Although it was a bummer to be confined to our tent, it turned out to be just what we needed.

The next morning we ventured outside and explored the area around our campsite for the first time. What had been a small creek the night before turned into a rushing one from all the rainfall! We hiked around the state park, explored the amazing rock and river formations, and spent time in the visitor’s center learning about the history of the park. Our weekend away provided a perfect balance of rejuvenation, hiking and overall appreciation of the outdoors. I know I am bias, but the Minnesota state park system is truly one of a kind. Looking back on these photos is almost surreal to me. The scenery is breathtaking, while the vast landscapes and truly intricate environments Minnesota offers are nothing short of amazing!

Exploring Northern Minnesota at Jay Cooke State Park!Exploring Northern Minnesota at Jay Cooke State Park!Exploring Northern Minnesota at Jay Cooke State Park!Exploring Northern Minnesota at Jay Cooke State Park!Exploring Northern Minnesota at Jay Cooke State Park!Exploring Northern Minnesota at Jay Cooke State Park!Exploring Northern Minnesota at Jay Cooke State Park!Exploring Northern Minnesota at Jay Cooke State Park!Exploring Northern Minnesota at Jay Cooke State Park!Exploring Northern Minnesota at Jay Cooke State Park!Exploring Northern Minnesota at Jay Cooke State Park!

What are your favorite Minnesota State Parks? Have you explored Northern Minnesota before? Share your favorite outdoor adventure locations in the comments below.

Laura Jean
  • This looks like a gorgeous place to hike! My husband and I always give birthday/Christmas presents that are related to getting out and doing something together, too.

    • It was absolutely breathtaking – around every corner I was amazed by beauty. Giving meaningful and interactive gifts is the best way to treat one another and spend quality time together.

  • What a fun summer adventure!

  • This looks like such a fun trip! We were all about camping as a cheap vacation, until we had a baby, and now our tents are ready to be borrowed by adventurous friends as we sit here and decide whether we could hack it in a cabin (or would that still be too much trouble?! haha.) Glad you got to your site before the rain started!!

    • HA! I love that motto. At least your equipment is still being used. I am sure a lot will change for us too when we have kids someday.