You have to get pretty far outside of the central cities to pitch a tent or park an RV, but it’s still possible to combine a trip to the Twin Cities with some good old-fashioned camping.
The Three Rivers Park District (www.threeriversparkdistrict.org ) maintains three campgrounds within easy driving distance of Minneapolis. Call 763/559-6700 to make reservations at any of the campgrounds. A $7.50 fee per reservation will be charged. Campgrounds are open May–October.
The campground in Baker Park Reserve (763/694-7662, $17–25 per night) is 20 miles west of Minneapolis and has 210 sites, about half with electricity. The 54 sites at Lake Auburn Campground (952/443-2911, $11) near Victoria, about 25 miles west of Minneapolis, are more rustic, with no electric or water hookups and no showers. The sites at Red Pine Family Camping Area (763/694-7777, $11) near Prior Lake, about 26 miles south of Minneapolis, are hike-in only, with no amenities beyond pit latrines.
Two Minnesota State Parks campgrounds are within easy driving distance of the metro area. Make reservations for campsites up to one year in advance at 866/857-2757 or www.stayatmnparks.com . The reservation fee is $8.50. Campsite fees are $12–20 per night. In the far east metro area, Afton State Park (6959 Peller Ave., South Hastings, 651/436-5391, www.dnr.state.mn.us ) is about 20 miles southeast of St. Paul and open year-round. There are 24 tenting sites located about one mile from parking lot, with wood and water available there. Flush toilets are located in the camp office, with vault toilets near the camping area.
Minnesota Valley State Park (19825 Park Blvd., Jordan, 952/492-6400, www.dnr.state.mn.us ) is about 40 miles southwest of Minneapolis, with 25 drive-in sites (good for car camping or RVs up to 50 feet long), eight hike-in sites, and three sites that can accommodate horses. The campground is open mid-May through Labor Day.
The nationwide chain of RV parks KOA has two campgrounds (or is that “kampgrounds?”) in the metro area. Minneapolis Northwest KOA (10410, Brockton Ln. N., Maple Grove, 763/420-2255, www.koa.com ) is 20 miles north of Minneapolis. Minneapolis Southwest KOA (3315 166th St. W., Jordan, 952/492-6440) is about 35 miles south of Minneapolis. Both are open May–October and have RV and tent sites and cabins available, as well as a swimming pool and a mini-golf course on-site.