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Bear Head Lake State Park

Secluded in the Northwoods, this park contains pristine lakes; it is home to black bears, nesting eagles, wolves and moose. Stands of white and red pine trees tower over the birch, aspen and fir trees. Located just south of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, the park shares a similar wilderness quality. Explore miles of shoreline by canoe. Swim at the beach, picnic in the shelter building, or fish for walleye, bass, crappies or trout. Trails in the park link-up with the Taconite State Trail and offer snowmobilers, skiers and hikers plenty to enjoy. Rent a three-bedroom guest house or camper cabin any season of the year.

Tell me more about this park's wildlife, history, geology and landscape.

Visitor Alert!

Park Phone Number Has Changed 218-235-2520.

Campground Reservations

Starting the 2015 season, all sites at Bear Head Lake State Park will be reservable.

Taconite State Trail Master Plan - Update

The existing Taconite State Trail Master Plan was approved in 1980. The master plan includes interim and proposed alignments for several sections of the trail route as it was not fully developed at that time. Since then, the entire length of the trail from Ely to Grand Rapids has been developed along public and private properties, a significant portion of which is not in state ownership.

A new master plan is needed to accurately reflect the developed alignment and existing trail uses, while also considering opportunities for new or future uses based on the current needs and demands of trail users. Input collected throughout the planning process from citizens, trail user groups, land administrators, and other interested citizens and stakeholders, will be used to help develop the master plan for the Taconite State Trail. Upon approval, this master plan will replace the previous plan, and will be used to guide and inform management decisions into the future.

To find out more visit the Taconite State Trail Planning website.

Park Notes

Be fascinated. Check out the naturalist programs and other activities scheduled at the park.

Things to see and do at the park:

Need ideas? Here's park staff's list of top stops at the park!

State Forest Campgrounds:

Bear Head Lake State Park also manages the Woodenfrog, Ash River and Wakemup Bay campgrounds inside the Kabetogama State Forest. For information on these units, please contact the Bear Head Lake State Park office at (218) 235-2520.

2010 America's Favorite Park!

Photo of Bear Head Lake State Park Manager Jen Westlund standing next to the sign at the park's entrance.Bear Head Lake State Park won the 2010 title of "America's Favorite Park" and a $100,000 gift in a nationwide campaign sponsored by Coca-Cola. The money improved a trail center at the park. Thank you Minnesota, and thank you America!
Watch the video of the award ceremony.

Virtual Tour:

Take a virtual tour. It's a great tool to help you plan your next trip to the park!
Panoramic tour | Snapshot tour

There's also a short videoThis link leads to a video. of scenes from the park.

Gift Card:

Purchase a Minnesota State Parks Gift Card.

Don't move firewood!

Burning non-local firewood can spread invasive species, and it's against Minnesota state law. Learn more. Always buy your firewood at the park, or from an approved local vendor. Find firewood vendors for Bear Head Lake State Park.


Bird Checklist This is a PDF file. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to download it. at Bear Head Lake State Park.


From Tower, go east on MN Highway 169 for 9 miles to County Highway 128. Follow this road south 7 miles to the park.

From Ely, go west on MN Highway 169 to County Highway 128. Follow this road south 7 miles to the park.

Park Highlights

tree Camping

tree Fishing

tree Great Hiking Trails

tree Wilderness Atmosphere

tree Wildlife

tree 23 Miles of Lakeshore


Best time to contact the park:

June - August:

Daily, 9 a.m. - 9 p.m.


Daily, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

October - Memorial Day weekend:

Intermittently between 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.


9301 Bear Head State Park Road
Ely, MN 55731

tel: 218-235-2524

email: bearhead.statepark@state.mn.us

Getting There

From the town of Tower, go east on U.S. Highway 169, 9 miles to St. Louis County Highway 128. Take Highway 128 south 7 miles to the contact station.