Enjoy life: Stay and play at Starlight Bay!
Connect with us!


Itasca State Park is a 32,690 acre state park, just 33 miles from Starlight Bay Resort. Established in 1891, Itasca State Park is the second oldest state park in the country and the oldest one in Minnesota.
Itasca State Park is unique in that it contains the headwaters of the Mississippi River. The river begins as a small stream, flowing out of Lake Itasca. The park also has more than 100 scenic lakes scattered in it's thousands of acres.

Much of the park is covered in old-growth forests. Quaking aspen and bigtooth aspen are the dominant tree species in the forests. Virgin red pine is also prominent. Some of these trees are over 200 years old. Other trees found in the park include paper birch, white pine, and a number of northern hardwoods. Itasca State Park is also home to a number of plants on the state's endangered species list, including slender naiad, sheathed pondweed, bog adder's mouth, and olivaceous spike-rush.

As you might expect with all the lakes, a variety of birds can be viewed at Itasca State Park. You can expect to see bald eagles, osprey, loons, and turkey vultures. In the spring, songbird migration takes place, resulting in dozens of warbler species showing up in the park. Other birds to be on the lookout for include red-tail hawks, blue herons, ruby-throated hummingbirds, ruffed grouse, and northern goshawks.

Itasca State Park also has over 50 mammal species. Black bears, beavers, bobcats, raccoons, timber wolves, deer, and river otters inhabit the park. Reptiles and amphibians you might run across include a variety of snakes, wood frogs, and salamanders.

You can enjoy any number of outdoor activities in Itasca State Park throughout the year.

Itasca State Park has over 100 lakes, many of which can be fished with varying degrees of success. The easiest lake to access is Lake Itasca. Here, you can fish from the pier or simply set out by boat from the public boat launch. You can also find boat launches at Elk Lake, Mary Lake, and Lake Ozawindib.
Depending on the lake you fish, you can expect to find pike, muskie, bluegills and crappies, rock bass, and walleye.

Kayaking, Canoeing, and Boating
Kayaking, canoeing, and boating is extremely popular in Itasca State Park. Lake Itasca has a number of boat ramps available for public use. And, if you don't have your own watercraft, you have plenty of options for renting kayaks, canoes, and boats.

Hiking and Biking
The park has numerous hiking and biking trails. Probably, the most popular trail is Dr. Roberts Nature Trail. This two mile loop goes across a bog leading to the historic Old-Timer's Cabin, built entirely from four giant logs in the 1930s. The mile-long Schoolcraft Trail is another great trail to hike. It begins at the river headwaters and ends at Hill Point.

Itasca State Park is a fantastic location for bird watching, especially in the summer. You'll be able to view numerous species in their natural habitats. Expect to encounter kinglets, hummingbirds, cormorants, owls, herons, eagles, hawks, osprey, and lots and lots of loons.

Winter Sports
Itasca State Park has 28 miles of cross-country ski trails for you to enjoy. Some are easy; some difficult. They are typically groomed for classic cross-country skiing and skate skiing. Interested in snowmobiling? The park has over 30 mile around the park's perimeter. As for snowshoeing, many of the park's hiking trails are perfectly suited for snowshoeing in the winter months. Of course, being in Minnesota, ice fishing is extremely popular, and, in Itasca State Park, you'll have plenty of opportunities to enjoy it.

For more information on Itasca State Park, contact the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Phone: 218-699-7251
Or, you can give us a call. We'll be glad to answer any questions you have about our area.