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One of Minnesota’s Most Popular Adventures is Jay Cooke State Park

Leaves change at Minnesota's Jay Cooke State Park.

Don?t get it twisted; Jay Cooke State Park is on the North Shore of the St. Louis River. If you?ve hit the North Shore of Oahu, you may have gone too far. This Minnesota state park is no Pipeline, but its famous rapids make waves for onlookers, kayakers, whitewater rafters, and other watercraft.

The power of the St. Louis River is a trademark of Jay Cooke State Park that has created picturesque rapids and waterfalls that are oft captured by photographers. Many park guests choose to hike alongside the river and through the park while on family trips or other outdoor adventures.

What to Do at Jay Cooke State Park

Most individuals who come for day use of the park won?t want to leave after viewing the vast camping and overnight options that are available at Jay Cooke State Park. Tent and RV campsites are open for online reservation and come with electric hookups, picnic tables, toilets, hot showers, and a dump station for campers, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Don?t have a tent or RV? Jay Cooke State Park management offers pet friendly camper cabins that have electricity, heat, bunk beds, picnic tables, screened-in porches, and campfire rings.

Guests can wake up immersed in nature and ready to take advantage of over 50 miles of hiking trails. Hikers and backpackers can choose from shorter trails like the simple CCC Trail that runs along the north side of the St. Louis River. Otherwise, longer paths like the Carlton Trail exist for those who?d like to spend the day traversing the Thomson Gorge by way of the Willard Munger State Trail trestle bridge.

Horseback riding and mountain biking are also very common for Jay Cooke State Park guests. There are eight miles worth of trails for mountain bikers, and six miles for riders on horseback.

Sightseers will notice the park?s natural beauty carved by the St. Louis River. There are small waterfalls that cascade over ancient, slanted rock formations which equate to some amazing visuals for onlookers. Crossing the swinging, suspension bridge is a rite of passage for visitors. Since the 1920s, the iconic swinging bridge has been a park staple and as such, it?s been maintained beautifully for the park?s guests.

What?s more, Pioneer Cemetery, Thomson Dam, and Oldenburg Point are three other areas of interest that visitors should seek out. Each spot features American history, panoramic views, and lookouts?especially Oldenburg Point?s classic sunset view over the river valley.

The environment and wildlife that lives in this area is another main reason why people come to visit Jay Cooke State Park. Wildlife aficionados should keep their eyes peeled for the black bear, timber wolves, and coyote that reside in the forest. Plus, the park is a popular birdwatching zone that?s home to eagles, hawks, owls, and 173 bird species in total . What?s more, fishermen flock to this area as the long, stretching river has more than enough spots for those who want to cast by themselves or fish with a crew.

How to Get to Jay Cooke State Park

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The Park is located on 780 State Highway 210 in Carlton County, Minnesota. Sitting on the North Shore of the St. Louis River, Jay Cooke State Park is just about 30 minutes from Duluth, MN as well as famous, Great Lake Superior.

Planning Your Trip

The Park is most often used in the warmer months. However, Jay Cooke State Park is open year-round with many activities for its Wintertime visitors.  Guests can bring or rent snowshoes and cross-country skis for these two very popular Winter pastimes. Plus, the park features eight miles worth of snowmobile trails that connect to the Willard Munger State Trail.

When planning a trip to Jay Cooke State Park, check the park?s website for events. The park?s management often puts on a variety of naturalist activities and programming for year-round guests which include guided hikes, phenology courses, and historical presentations by the civilian conservation corps.

Outside the park are towns like Carlton, Scanlon, Cloquet, Proctor, and Duluth. These areas can be valuable for guests looking for tasty restaurants, places to stay, and other events.

There is plenty of fun to be had at Jay Cooke State Park with easy online booking for $35 annual permits and $7 daily permits. Guests looking to hike, fish, camp, or just adventure along the river can check the park?s website for helpful updates from the park office. Last but not least, guests can seek out some park history from businessman and explorer, Jay Cooke himself who owned a slate factory that is still on park premises today. Head to Jay Cooke State Park for a slice of American history and the great outdoors.

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