McCarthy Beach State Park

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McCarthy Beach State Park

Come to McCarthy Beach State Park and you’ll remember the lakes. The sandy beach on Sturgeon Lake was rated one of the top 17 beaches in North America by Highway’s Magazine. Walk along the half-mile of shoreline, or venture out into the shallow water that extends hundreds of feet into the lake.

Launch a boat on Side Lake or Sturgeon Lake to explore the five connected lakes of the Sturgeon chain. Hikers, mountain bikers, and snowshoers enjoy scenic trails that wind along pine-covered ridges and through stands of birch. Snowmobilers and horseback riders take advantage of the Taconite State Trail to access miles of trails outside the park. Located near many tourist attractions, McCarthy Beach State Park offers opportunities for both relaxation and exploration.

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

Visitor Alert

Drinking Water Notification

Water monitoring has detected contaminants in two of the wells that supply drinking water to the park, and the water is not safe for consumption at the Side Lake campground including the shower and bathroom, fish cleaning house, and water spigots throughout the campground. Visitors may still use the water for showering and hand washing with soap, but should avoid consuming or using the water for tooth brushing, dish washing or fish cleaning unless it has been heated at a rolling boil for one minute. There is no potable water in the park. We are actively pursuing a solution. Please check this site for the latest information.

Modern Restroom Closure

The restroom facility at the main beach area is scheduled to shut down late afternoon, on Labor Day.

The Side Lake Campground modern restroom facility is scheduled to be closed on Monday, October 2nd at 8:00 a.m. After that date, restroom facilities will be limited to vault toilets throughout the park, and the modern restroom located inside the park office. The availability of the office restroom is dependent on office hours listed below. Water will be shut off October 2nd at 8:00 a.m. Please bring water with you before arriving at the park.

(Updated September 27, 2017)

Park Notes

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

Camping Information

Reservations are now required for all campsites in the Side Lake campground. Beatrice Lake campground is still first come, first served.

Narrow Roads (RVers, take note!): The Side Lake Campground has narrow roads with sharp turns and may not be suitable for some large RVs. The road leading to sites 46 - 59 is especially narrow, so even though some of these campsites are long, they may be unsuitable for large rigs.
Download the list of sites with sharp turning radiuses. This is a PDF file. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to download it.

Group Camp: The camp is typically open mid-spring to fall, but water may not be available at the group camp outside of the Memorial Day to Labor Day period.

State Forest Campgrounds: McCarthy Beach State Park manages Stony Brook Horse Camp and day-use area. Scenic State Park now manages Button Box Lake, Togo Horse Camp and Thistledew Lake Campgrounds. These campgrounds are all located in the George Washington State Forest. Camping is first-come, first-served at these areas. The cost is $14/night for a regular campsite and $16/night at the horse sites. For more information, call the park at 218-274-7200.

Gift Cards

Purchase a Minnesota State Parks Gift Card.

Only use approved firewood!

Help prevent the spread of tree-killing insects by burning only approved firewood, available at all Minnesota State Parks.


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

Park Highlights

tree Swimming Beach

tree Camping

tree Hiking

tree Horse Trails

tree Picnicking

tree Snowshoeing/snowmobiling


Office Hours: September 5 - 30th -10 a.m. - 4 p.m. daily. Starting October 1st - Intermittently through April.


7622 McCarthy Beach Road
Side Lake, MN 55781

tel: 218-274-7200

Getting There

From the town of Hibbing, take U.S. Highway 169 north to 73 in Chisholm. Follow Hwy 5 in Chisholm 16 miles to the park.