Frontenac State Park’s Campground is everything we’ve come to expect in a Minnesota State Park campground plus a few extra perks. The location is set away from the hustle and bustle of the main park but still within a short hike of most of the park’s main attractions. The sites are close but visually private. And the facilities. Well, we’ll get into that.
A Blufftop Campground
Frontenac State Park Campground sits 430 feet above the Mississippi River, along the forested bluff that composes much of the park. While views of the Mississippi are limited to overlooks a short hike away, the thick forest makes for well-shaded and visually private campsites. The vegetation between each site acts as natural partitions, providing the sense of being in one’s private “green room.” Bushes and undergrowth form the walls, a generous tree canopy serves as the ceiling, with the fire pit and picnic tables tucked away from the campground road.
Granted, the camping experience can vary greatly by site. The main campground is composed of 58 drive-in campsites split between four loops, 19 of which are electric. The first three loops are closer to the campground amenities but also more exposed to each other.
Frontenac State Park Campground Amenities
While the natural surroundings offer a break from civilization, the facilities at Fontenac make sure campers are not too far removed from creature comforts. A standout feature is the modern restrooms, which are impressively new and—dare we say—slick. Equipped with running water and warm showers, these facilities offer a level of comfort that is rare for a campground and absolutely worth noting.
Other Camping Options
At the end of the main campground road is the group campground. Here the forest and underbrush thins for a more open space. These sites avoid the hustle and bustle of the main site but share rustic toilets and open picnic shelters.
Meanwhile, campers can find even more seclusion with fewer conveniences among the six cart-in sites and two backpack sites. Cart-in sites have a group parking lot one-third of a mile from the campsites, with access to a cart to move their gear. Meanwhile, backpackers park at the ranger’s station to start their 1.4-mile hike to the campsites.
Privacy and comfort are only part of Frontenac’s allure; the campground also serves as a gateway to numerous outdoor activities. Hiking trails snake through the park, offering scenic views of the Mississippi River and opportunities to spot local wildlife. The Upper Bluffside Trail parallels the campground road and connects to the campground at multiple entry points. Follow it east to access the picnic area and main overlook. Or, connect to other trails that wind down the bluffs to the waterfront for fishing, bird watching, and simple relaxation.
Frontenac State Park Campground is easily accessible by road and offers multiple options for parking near the campsites. Most of the park’s amenities and trails are also accessible to persons with limited mobility, ensuring that the park is welcoming to all.
As for vehicles, there are some limitations. While the campground does include electric sites that cater to RVs, the narrow roads, tight loops, and overhanging forest limit vehicle lengths to 53 feet. Technically, a bus can camp here. But I wouldn’t want to be the driver attempting to turn into these sites.
We arrive at Frontenac State Park Campground early in the evening, with plenty of time to settle in before worrying about dinner. We take the opportunity to explore the campground and hike the Upper Bluffs Trail to the main overlook before returning to our site and preparing dinner. The grounds quiet as the sun sets and we sleep to a chorus of incsects. It’s a quiet campground in the heart of a relaxing park.
The next morning, we string together a series of trails to run a loop around the bluff. After a heart-pounding climb up 430 feet from the Lower Bluff Trail to our campsite, we are grateful for the warm, clean showers, to refresh ourselves before packing up and moving on.
Frontenac State Park Campground has proved itself as a destination elegantly fusing nature and convenience. A place where we can get away from it all and live a slower life while still enjoying a good shower at the end of the day. And some days, that’s exactly what we need.