"Bemidji" is a shortening of an Ojibwe word meaning "lake with a cross-current"--and that cross-current is the Mississippi River as it flows through Lake Bemidji. Located at the lake's north end, Lake Bemidji State Park is also where Minnesota's three biomes mix--the pine forest, the broadleaf forest, and the prairie, which begins only a few miles to the west. Species from each create a varied habitat supporting a rich animal life, even though the park is close to town. Deer, black bear, porcupines, skunks, beaver, four kinds of woodpeckers, eagles, ospreys, owls, and even an occasional wolf have been sighted here.
The Bogwalk and Rocky Point Trail are two top destinations for visitors. The 1-mile easy walk to Big Bog Lake covers rolling terrain through a mixed forest, moving to a raised boardwalk through the bog itself. This unique ecosystem draws visitors in early summer for its many blooming orchids, including the state flower, the Showy Lady's-Slipper. Carnivorous plants like sundews and pitcher plants line the trail. In the fall tamarack turn golden around Big Bog Lake itself, a destination visitors return to over and over again. Rocky Point is another popular walk. The paved trail leaves the beach area and rises along the shoreline for a half mile to a platform overlooking Lake Bemidji. Either of these walks can be a starting point too--the park offers 11 miles of well-maintained hiking and biking trails.
Outdoor opportunities abound, on the water as well as in the park. For more information, please contact the park at 218-308-2300 or visit http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/lake_bemidji/index.html.
- Biking: 5 miles mowed trails for mountain biking; northern trailhead for paved Paul Bunyan State Trail
- Hiking: 11 miles mowed trails
- Day-use area including sand beach on Lake Bemidji, children's playground, horseshoe pits, volleyball court, and picnic tables with firerings
- Boat ramp for access to Lake Bemidji; protected marina with boat slips
- Fishing pier
- Year-round naturalist programming, including summer pontoon trips to the northernmost point of the Mississippi River
- Canoe, kayak, and small boat rentals
- Rental facilities for family reunions, weddings, receptions, etc.: Dining Hall, Picnic Shelter, amphitheater
- Cross-country skiing: 8 miles groomed trail; skate-skiing: 1.3 miles groomed trail
- Snowmobiling: 3 miles groomed trail
- Snowshoeing, with snowshoe rentals
- Campground: 95 semi-modern sites, including 43 with electricity. Two modern bathroom buildings with showers open during summer season. Vault toilets.
- Group camps: Bass Creek Group Camp (rustic; capacity 30); Lavinia Group Camp (premium; capacity 50)
- Larger local events: The routes of both Bike Bemidji: Loop the Lake Festival (http://www.bikebemidji.com/; third Saturday of June) and the Blue Ox Marathon races (http://www.bemidjiblueoxmarathon.com/; second weekend of October) come through the park.
- Local use: Our picnic area, playground, and swimming beach are local favorites. Many bicyclists and runners use the park trails regularly. The local ski club is a big supporter of our Candlelight Ski each winter. The Friends of Lake Bemidji State Park and the local Minnesota Master Naturalists volunteer for a variety of projects throughout the year.
Lake Bemidji State Park is open year-round. Our naturalist offers programming in all seasons, from springtime maple-syruping and birding to summer pontoon trips on the Mississippi River to fall snowshoe-lacing classes. Winter brings programs like wreath-making, snowshoeing, ice-fishing, and snowmobiling. Events range from our International Bog Day celebration in summer to Candlelight Ski and Snowshoe evenings and the annual Northland Fat Bike Rally in winter. Four heated camper cabins are available year-round, and campsites are available in winter even after the campground water is turned off.
All vehicles entering the park must have either a daily ($5) or annual ($25) state park vehicle permit, available for purchase at the park office.
Many facilities are wheelchair accessible, including the Visitor Center, Picnic Shelter, Dining Hall, fishing pier, playground, 2 camper cabins, and some campsites. The park is the northern trailhead for the paved Paul Bunyan State Trail, which is wheelchair accessible.
Pet Friendly Notes
Pets are permitted on trails and must be on leash (6 foot) at all times. Owners must clean up after their animals; Dogi-Pot bag dispensers are located throughout the day-use area and campground. Pets (except service animals) are not allowed in buildings. Owner is responsible for animal's behavior.