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Cascade River State Park | Top Things to Do & Camping Options

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Are you looking for a nice, serene outdoor area to spend some alone time? Cascade River State Park has the answer for you. This piece gives you amazing reasons why you should consider the park.

Named after a series of waterfalls along the Cascade River as it drains into Lake Superior, Cascade River State Park has become a charm for hikers, cross-country skiers, and campers. Also, its convenient location offers the best vacation destination for both one-day visitors and several-day RV campers.

Cascade River State Park Overview

NameCascade River State Park
LocationWest, 3481 MN-61, Lutsen, MN 55612, United States
ActivitiesHiking, picnicking, fishing, bird watching, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing
Notable FeaturesCascade Falls, Lake Superior shoreline, Lookout Mountain
WildlifeMoose, wolves, lynx, beavers, birds
TrailsOver 18 miles of hiking trails, including a section of the Superior Hiking Trail
CampgroundsDrive-in sites, backpack sites, and group campsites
FacilitiesPicnic area, fire rings, restrooms, water spigots
AccessibilitySome accessible trails and facilities; visitors should verify specifics
Park HoursOpen year-round; specific hours for different facilities and seasons may vary
Contact InformationFor reservations and information, visitors can contact the park directly or visit the state park website.

Cascade River State Park is on the North Shore of Superior, Minnesota, around 9 miles southwest of Grand Marais. And if you are searching for solitude time in nature, Cascade River State Park, Minnesota, is an excellent place to be. The park has stayed undisturbed since the 1950s, offering the most serene part of nature.

Whether you want to go camping, hiking, skiing, fishing, or enjoy nature, the park offers a fantastic opportunity. You’ll enjoy the tranquility and breathtaking views and even capture some stunning moments on your camera for memories.

The Cascade River Falls are the ultimate view of this beautiful park. The five magnificent waterfalls are amazing in summer but even more spectacular during winter, as the entire river freezes.

How to Get There

Cascade River State Park is situated approximately 9 miles from the towns of Grand Marais and Lutsen. It’s quite accessible from either of these towns by driving and is one of our favorite Minnesota state parks along the North Shore.

Even better, Minnesota Highway 61 passes inside the park, making it much easier to drive to the park. If you wish to rent a car near Cascade River State Park, the platform offers an incredible opportunity for you.

Inside the park, the internal gravel roads are not particularly wide. You should be careful when navigating these roads as they are not wide enough for several vehicles at a time. This is especially true if you are driving a wide RV.

However, the roads throughout the park are still pretty flat despite numerous sharp ascents. And they offer some amazing views.

Snowfall during winter is also relatively common in the area, necessitating extra care for drivers as you drive within the park. Wild animals crossing the roads and fallen trees along the roads can also cause unwarranted accidents if not careful.

Cascade River State Park Map

Cascade River State Park Map

Before starting your journey, download the Cascade River State Park map. This will help guide your moves to and within the park.

Also, keep checking for local weather updates to know if there are any road closures, especially during winter. Do you wish to rent an RV for your camping trip in Minnesota? Outdoorsy is the site for you.

And if you want to go a step further and own an RV for all your outdoor vacations, you can browse for affordable RVs at the RVT website.

Parking Fees

Parking Fees
Image from TripAdvisor

Once you are at the park, you’ll have to buy a parking pass. This gives you access to the park and allows you to park your car or RV on the campsite of your choice.

Generally, Cascade River State Park has three major parking areas, offering ample parking space for one-day visitors and campers. Two of these parking areas are within walking distance from the campground.

Cascade River State Park Reservations

Cascade River State Park Reservations

If you wish to make a reservation in one of the 40 campsites available at Cascade State Park, you can do that through Tentrr. However, this doesn’t mean you can get access without a reservation. “First-come-first-served” camping options are also available. 

One thing to note before traveling is that some of these campsites are relatively narrow and can’t fit large RVs. Therefore, check your vehicle’s dimensions before choosing your favorite camping site.

The park only offers four pull-in-through sites. Three of these sites have electric hookups, which makes camping enjoyable, especially for RV campers. Picnic tables are spread all over the campground, and the park offers seven excellent picnic areas for group events. Also, the park offers a dump station, toilets, and water showers. There will also be vault toilets for winter visitors.

Unlike many campsites, Cascade State Park offers decent cell phone coverage on most of its camping sites. This comes in handy for RVers who want a reliable cell service.  Also, if you wish to make an urgent call, you can access public phones at the park’s office.


The park also offers a separate camping ground for groups, and you can also do backcountry camping. And if you want to enjoy a stress-free vacation, having that travel insurance from Travelex is an excellent idea. This will make all your bookings effortless and worry-free.

See Related: Best Cabins in Minnesota

Important Things to Note

  • They are available only within ten miles if you wish to buy groceries.
  • Firewood is sold at the park office.
  • Recreate in an eco-friendly manner – As you enjoy your time in the park, ensure that your activities don’t cause harm to the environment. For instance, don’t pollute the park with plastic bottles.
  • Use certified firewood – When you want to keep warm or grill your fish after an exciting fishing trip, use approved firewood. Don’t come with firewood from other sources.
Cascade River Waterfall, Lutsen, Minnesota

See Related: Day Trips from Minneapolis

Top Activities to Do in Cascade State Park

1. Hiking

Cascade River State Park Sign

Hiking is one of the best activities to do in Cascade State Park. The cascading river and the extensive Lake Superior shoreline offer some of the most amazing views you can ever come across in Minnesota.  

Hikers are charmed by the numerous hiking trails in Cascade State Park, which always offer more-than-expected experiences. Some of the most preferred Cascade River State Park trails:

Lookout Mountain Trail

Lookout Mountain Trail Sign Minnesota

Also known as the Hiking Club Trail, it’s a 5.1km loop trail with an elevation gain of 186m, neighboring Grand Marais. The trail, described as moderately trafficked, contains a beautiful waterfall that will surely be worth your time.

Hiking Trail at Cascade River State Park
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Park visitors use this loop trail for nature trips, hiking, or even running. Lookout Mountain trail will lead you down to the waterfall and Lookout Mountain. These two sites offer incredible scenery for photo lovers. And the shifting colors of ferns and aspen trees make the view even more splendid. 

See Related: Fun Things to do in Duluth, MN

Superior Hiking Trail CR 6

Superior Hiking Trail Sign at Cascade River State Park
Superior Hiking Trail Sign at Cascade River State Park

This is an 18.6-mile long trail, with an elevation gain of 120m, neighboring West Cook, Minnesota. The trail features beautiful lake scenery and is most popular for hiking. 

This trail gives hikers an unmatched experience, with a serene natural environment of the northern backwoods and stunning views of Lake Superior. It will take you to Silver Bay from County Road 6.

Superior Hiking Trail: Cascade Loop

Superior Hiking Trail at Cascade River State Park

The 7.3-mile-long trail allows you to experience the breathtaking views of one of the main waterfalls in the park. Many hikers consider it a moderate trail, but it can be quite challenging, especially if you’re not in the best shape or the right hiking gear. There are numerous roots and bumps everywhere.

The trail is popular for hikers and nature trips. Also, if you have your fluffy friend, the trail allows them access, but you should always be on a leash.

Cascade River State Park Lake Trail

Cascade River, Lutsen, Minnesota

The 3.9-mile loop trail with an elevation gain of 74m is rated moderate and offers spectacular views of Lake Superior. The trail, considered lightly trafficked, offers hikers several options for enjoying nature and beautiful sceneries. Also, you can come with your dog for the hike if you keep it on a leash.

See Related: Best Weekend Getaways in Minnesota

2. Birdwatching

Cascade River in Minnesota

The wildlife in Cascade River State Park is enough reason to visit the area. For instance, numerous bird species adorn the skies and treetops of this park.

If you are an ardent birdwatcher, then this park will undoubtedly be worth a visit. There are over 100 bird species in the park, which is quite an incredible variety to watch. Right from the famous bald eagle to the notoriously fast peregrine falcon, you can never run short of amazing birds to watch.

The Department of Natural Resources lets you download a checklist from its website. This enables you to keep track of the birds you’ve watched.

See Related: Things to Do in Two Harbors, Minnesota

3. Fishing


Besides hiking and birdwatching, Cascade River State Park campers can also take advantage of the park’s numerous fishing spots. And, while fishing permits are a must-have before embarking on that fishing trip, they are readily available for purchase at Grand Marquis and Lutsen towns.

The proximity of these towns to the park means you can go fishing even if the thought is spontaneous. You should, however, note that different seasons will offer different fish species. For instance, salmon species are common in autumn, while steelhead trout is more prevalent in spring. 

The good news is there is always something to fish for all year round. This is due to the several tributaries that join the Cascade River, bringing new life. So, if you are missing grilled fish, it’s just a fishing rod away.

See Related: Outdoorsy vs RVShare

4. Snowmobiling

Image from TripAdvisor

For those looking for more thrilling moments, winter will be the best time to visit Cascade River State Park. Snowmobiling is one of the most exciting activities in this park during winter. As you drive your skimobile down the 2-mile snowy trail, the experience is undeniably breathtaking.

This trail goes down the river, giving you a glimpse of the frozen waterfalls and rapids, which are amazingly beautiful. If you want to experience more than just sitting in that RV, this somewhat risky adventure can be your thing.

See Related: Tettegouche State Park Travel Guide

5. Skiing

Image by Tony Webster / CC BY 2.0

Cascade River State Park is also a great vacation place for novice and adept skiers. They have over 17 miles of skiing trails, which guarantee amazing sites for exploration.

Connecting to numerous other skiing trails on the North Shore (over 150 miles), you can access unlimited adventuring space with endless opportunities.

The downhill skiing trail at Lutsen Mountains, one of the best skiing spots in the Midwest, is also found here. So, Cascade River State Park is the answer when you want to go skiing in Minnesota.

See Related: Best Duluth Hotels to Stay At

6. Snowshoeing

Image from TripAdvisor

Sometimes, you want to take things easy and slow. Snowshoeing is one perfect way to do that during winter. It’s the ideal activity for winter hikers. All you need to have is your warmest gear and snowshoes. But, if you are not carrying your gear, there’s also no reason to worry or miss the fun. The park offers rental gear services at its offices inside the park. 

Even better, there is a winter warming house in one of the picnic shelters at the park. This means you can keep warm and enjoy your time there after your long hiking adventure.

Snowshoeing in Cascade River Park offers trails down the river banks, as well as several mountain ones. This gives you better views of the extensive nature and wildlife. If lucky, you can see various animals like deer, coyotes, and beautiful birds on snowy tree branches.

Lookout Mountain Trail, Lutsen, Minnesota

See Related: Best Camper Accessories

Lodging at Cascade River State Park


So, where do you spend your nights visiting Cascade River State Park for a few days? Well, you’ll have more than enough options here. If you are not sleeping in your RV, you can be camping in one of the 40 campsites in the park.

The campsites are semi-modern and have all the necessary basic amenities you require. Cascade River State Park camping also includes two group campgrounds for those traveling.

If you want more than the semi-modern Cascade River State Park cabins, the Grand Marais and Lutsen towns are relatively close, offering numerous lodging options.

Some of the best hotels to book into include:

1. Solbakken Resort

Solbakken Resort
Image from Solbakken On Superior Facebook Page

The resort in Lutsen is one of the best hotels to book nearby Cascade River State Park. They offer various great features, including a sauna, hot tub, spacious and clean rooms, and a private bathroom. Also, every room has a TV set.

Some rooms even include a seating space for relaxing after a long, eventful day. And if you want some souvenirs to take home, there is a gift shop within the resort. You can book a room online to ensure you are sorted during your trip.

2. Lake Front Log Cabin

Lake Front Log Cabin
Image from

This one is also in Lutsen town, around 9 miles from the park. They offer exclusive accommodation with free Wi-Fi and even a patio. It is a 3-bedroom cabin ideal for family getaways, offering the best views of Lake Superior.

This holiday home also features various amenities, including a kitchen equipped with a microwave, dishwasher, oven, and fridge. It also has a TV you can use when relaxing in the cabin. This place offers excellent accommodation, especially if you don’t want to spend the nights in a camping tent.

Reserve your cabin today for the best experience.

See Related: Places to Visit in Minnesota

3. East Bay Suites

East Bay Suites
Image from

Grand Marais also offers excellent accommodations while visiting the Cascade River State Park. East Bay Suites is one such place. These suites offer exclusive accommodation, including free Wi-Fi and private parking.

The rooms also include a seating space, a TV, a DVD player, a kitchen containing a dining area, and a microwave. It also has a private bathroom, a hairdryer, and toiletries in every unit. You can make a booking for a stress-free vacation. The place is rated 9.1 stars out of 10.

See Related: Best Travel Insurance for Pre-Existing Conditions

Health Advisory

As you plan for your trip, keep the following tips in mind. They will be instrumental in making your trip worthwhile.

  • Be prepared – remember to carry your water, soap, hand sanitizer, towels, toiletries, and disinfectants.
  • Maintain the required cleanliness in the park- don’t go litter everywhere.
  • Observe the various federal, MDH, and state guidelines
  • Signages are put there to guide you. Use them, especially the directional ones.

Also, this one aspect of travel is quite important – holiday or travel insurance. While we never expect bad things to happen during the vacation, you also can’t avoid them when they occur. Personal accidents, loss of personal items, medical expenses, etc., must be insured.

Companies like Travel Insurance or SafetyWing have made this process considerably easy. This offers a much-needed sense of security during your entire trip. And if these two are not the ideal choice for you, you can pick your favorite from VisitorsCoverage.

See Related: Best Van Camping Equipment

Cascade River State Park Weather

Cascade River State Park Path

As Nancy D. Steele once said, “Weather is like Mother Nature speaking to us.” While we may not fully comprehend what she says, we can always grasp the idea. For this reason, planning for the trip requires that you also understand how the weather conditions might turn up during your stay.

A perfect way to do this is by getting local weather updates for the entire time you are staying there. You can look for updates of up to two weeks to ensure you are adequately prepared.

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