A Day in Itasca State Park

In northwestern Minnesota there lies a cozy place where families meet, travelers rest for the night, and people dine after biking, driving, or hiking through the forest. People from across the country and world come to visit the start of the mighty Mississippi River.

Itasca, Minnesota’s oldest state park.

Itasca, it turns out, is a lovely place to take some pictures.

A Cabin You Can Rent in Itasca State Park

My family visits Itasca annually and we always start our visit at Douglas Lodge for some breakfast. In true Minnesota fashion, the specialty is wild rice pancakes with maple syrup. Yum. A great start to a wonderful day.

Douglas Lodge

Then, only a short hike away from Douglas Lodge, sits a log cabin constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in 1940. The CCC was a large part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. The CCC was dedicated to the conservation and development of natural resources on public lands and worked extensively in Itasca.

After this short hike it’s time for a stroll around the grounds. A perfect time to find some interesting photos. Like this one of a historic cabin.

Civilian Conservation Corps Log Cabin

Or just a glimpse of the beauty of the forest.

Or a little inchworm that found its way onto a railing on the middle of a bridge.

After the stroll it’s time for the main event of the day, visiting the headwaters. The name “Itasca” is deeply connected to this part of the park. The explorer Henry Schoolcraft was led to the true source of the Mississippi River by an Anishinabe guide named Ozawindib in 1832. He then named the lake he was led to Itasca, after the Latin words veritas and caput meaning “truth” and “head”.

A short drive brings us to the start of the trail.

A statue greets us as we start our walk.

At the end of the walk there is a sign saying, 


The day is beautiful, and the lake looks splendid.

The Headwaters of the Mississippi and Lake Itasca

Then it’s time to do what many others have done before. Cross the Mississippi River.

Headwaters of the Mississippi

Then it’s time to head back. 2 choices are available. You can walk back on a trail or walk down the river. I chose the river. My grandmother had mentioned that the water level looked higher than usual, but I didn’t listen. Even rolled up, my jeans got soaked. Woops. At least I got this neat picture.

And that concluded my day in pictures. My family and I stopped back at Douglas Lodge for dinner after stopping for coffee at the café and driving through the park for a while. Then we headed home.

Recent Posts