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