Minnesota is renowned for its lakes and waterways, and it's understandable why a great many of the state's 66 state parks and nine recreation areas are dedicated to them. But with so many thousands of bodies of water to see and choose from in Minnesota, it can be hard to settle on which places provide the most aquatic fun.
Are you the sort of RV traveler who feels a need for speed and thrills? If so, then luckily for you making a choice just got easier. The whitewater rapids of Banning State Park, MN, make a strong case for where your next outdoor adventures in Minnesota should take place.
What and Where Is Banning State Park?
Banning State Park is located right off Interstate 35, near the town of Sandstone in Pine County, in central-eastern Minnesota. Sitting along a 10-mile stretch of the Kettle River, Banning State Park was planned as a memorial site to the ghost town of Banning (lending the park its name), but that changed when planners realized the area's scenic and recreational opportunities.
While officially established with the passage of a bill in 1963, it was only in 1967 that enough land was acquired to build recreational facilities at Banning State Park. Further expansion took place in 1986, and a dam was removed in 1995 that restored a waterfall and restored and strengthened some rapids.
What Is There To Do at Banning State Park?
From rapids to hiking and more, both adrenaline junkies and travelers in search of peaceful, idyllic scenery don't lack activities at Banning State Park.
Kayaking, Canoeing, and Rafting
The highlight of any visit to Banning State Park is the 1.5 miles of whirling swirling rapids situated along the Kettle River. Thrill-seekers flock to Banning State Park, MN, from all over the country for these rapids, and you can join them.
Whether you conquer Blueberry Slide, Dragon’s Tooth, Mother’s Delight, Little Banning, or the Hell’s Gate rapids by kayak, canoe, or raft is totally up to you!
Even if you don't want to experience them for yourself (preferring to stay dry), you can still thrill to the sight of others bravely fighting through Banning State Park's rapids from the shore.
Hiking is another popular activity at Banning State Park, with 17 miles of hiking trails you can explore. Check out the Quarry Loop, which takes you through an abandoned quarry and offers viewing opportunities to see people take on the formidable Hell's Gate rapids. For a more strenuous hike, choose the Wolf Creek Trail, with steep terrain that takes you up to Wolf Creek Falls.
While hiking, be sure to have a look around; Banning State Park is teeming with wildlife! There are 184 species of bird at Banning State Park, along with 34 species of mammals (including black bears, white-tailed deer, foxes, beavers, and raccoons) and 17 species of amphibians.
Snowmobiling, Snowshoeing, and Skiing
In the colder months, Banning State Park becomes yet another Minnesota winter playground. In winter, 11 miles of trails are groomed for cross-country skiing, and another six miles of trails are reserved for snowmobiling. If you prefer to explore Banning State Park in winter on foot, snowshoeing is available anywhere aside from those aforementioned trails groomed for skiing and snowmobiling.
Can You Go RV Camping at Banning State Park, MN?
Yes, you can go RV camping in Banning State Park from May 1st through mid-November each year. There are a total of 33 RV campsites at the Banning State Park campground, but only 11 of them have electric hookups, and there's a length limit of 50 feet.
In addition, Banning State Park manages the Willow River Campground within the General Andrews State Forest; sites are first-come, first-served.
When Is the Best Time To Visit Banning State Park?
Spring to early fall is the best time to visit Banning State Park, with most visitors who intend to take on the whitewater rapids usually doing so in spring. Mid-to-late April highs average in the high 40s Fahrenheit, with a jump into the mid-60s come May. Highs in the mid-70s to low-80s can be found June through August, with September highs averaging in the low-70s.
If visiting in winter, you're going to want to bundle up — big time. Overnight lows are already usually reaching below freezing in November, and January sees snow with average highs in the high teens and lows in the single digits. The below-freezing low temperatures will continue into March, while things start to warm up in April.
Visit Banning State Park With Cruise America
What is the best way to visit Banning State Park, MN? It's in an RV, of course! And the perfect RV is waiting for you at Cruise America. With a fleet of vehicles packed with modern amenities, Cruise America's RV selection is second to none — and there's the excellent customer service to match it.
So, whether you're aiming to pick up an RV rental for a short visit to Banning State Park or you want to buy a pre-owned RV to enjoy RV life on the open road, stick with Cruise. Ready to go? Connect with Cruise America today and start exploring.