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Park Highlight: Big Falls Campground and Horse Camp

Information provided by Joan Nelson, Big Falls City Clerk/Treasurer.

Big Falls Campground and Horse Camp is a 28-acre site along the banks of the scenic Big Fork River.  We like to say we are located in “The Heart of the Wilderness,” which is at the Junction of State Highways 71 and 6, in the City of Big Falls in Koochiching County. We are 40 miles south of the Canadian border and Voyageurs National Park. We offer complete camping facilities and clean, modern indoor bathrooms and showers.

Our park is the only of its kind on the Big Fork River. It is situated along waterfalls and rapids, in a setting of lofty pines and surrounding woods. It is a pristine, natural setting that changes with the seasons. The rapids range from wild and roaring in early spring to calm and lazy in mid to late summer. The rock ledges and outcroppings make for a natural landscape alive with large and small waterfalls that provide for a unique swimming and wading experience. A Big Fork River “massage” in the small rapids, with the historic train bridge in the background, is an experience like no other in the area. Diving into what locals call the “Deep Hole” is an adventure for the brave and will not soon be forgotten. Photo opportunities abound here. “Love this place,” “Beautiful park,” “We will be back” are frequent reviews we receive. Camping underneath the towering pines in a tent or RV is a very serene experience that draws guests back time and time again. Picnicking in one the pavilions or on the island is a great day activity. There simply is no other place in the region that rivals the Big Falls Campground for its unique location, natural beauty and access to endless outdoor activities.

Our park is a sportsman’s paradise to set up camp for fishing or a fall deer, grouse or bear hunting trip. We have direct access to the Blue Ox ATV trail, and provide a great place to headquarter for your Northern Minnesota ATV adventure. We feature more than 30 miles of marked multi-use trails, with many, many more miles to explore on your own utilizing county forest roads and trails.

We are also connected to the Big Fork River State Water Trail. Whether traveling by canoe, kayak or small motorboat, we offer a modern rest area and campsites at the portage before heading to the primitive landings downriver. You can travel all the way to the Rainy River which runs along the Canadian border. Walleye, northern pike, bass, muskies and sturgeon are species found in the river. Fishing from shore on the rocks is also a fun experience.

If hunting or fishing are not your thing, we have so much more to offer the naturalist. Opportunities for wildlife photography or viewing are abundant in the park and surrounding wilderness. You may see moose, deer, black bears, timber wolves, beaver, fox and more. Bald eagles, cranes, herons, ducks, grouse and countless other birds are plentiful. Our state flower, the Lady Slipper, is found in the area, as well as many other native species of orchids and wildflowers. People come from all over the region to enjoy picking our bountiful wild blueberries. Hiking the trails is also a favorite pastime.

We provide a separate horse camp area for riding enthusiasts. It has direct access to all of our marked trails and opportunities to explore on your own. This camp provides sites with electric and water hookups, as well as tie lines for the horses. Spring and fall are perfect times to bring your horses and explore the north woods.

We welcome campers and day visitors from all over the state, country and Canada. We get many repeat guests from the regional communities, as it provides a true nature experience, without having to travel a long distance. We are also a frequent venue for events such as weddings, family reunions, group camps and day meetings as they make use of our two riverside pavilions and spacious open area.

Our site has rich historical significance. It has been used as a portage camp site for thousands of years by Native Americans, voyageurs and lumberjacks. As you sit and listen to the sounds of the river, you can feel the history and imagine all of the people who came before you who also cherished this place. An historic train bridge has been incorporated into the Blue Ox ATV trail and offers amazing views. We also have the remnants of an old spill way that was once part of an electric power dam. It was destroyed by an ice flow and never restored. You can view it up close from a river-island picnic area.

We are excited to say that we are expanding this summer! We received a $1.27 million grant from GMRPT to purchase 10 riverside acres, construct a new accessible restroom building, create additional sites and upgrade the sanitary sewer system. We expect that project to be complete by fall of 2020.

More information about our park or city can be found on our website at