Since getting our Travato, Stef and I have been staying in fewer and fewer formal RV parks and campgrounds, preferring remote, dispersed camping sites instead. That is, after all, part of the allure of getting a new Class B – we can take it ANYWHERE!
And we usually have sort of campsite-ADD, rarely staying in place more than one night. But recently, when we were spending a few nights in the new Winnebago Fuse, we decided to be a little more traditional, head to a regular campground, and try not to move around so much. For this, we wound up at Myre – Big Island State Park, near Albert Lea, Minnesota. I’m happy to report, we didn’t regret this one bit.
The first thing to know about Myre – Big Island State Park is that there really is an island there. There are two campgrounds, and we stayed in the one on the island (called “Big Island”, appropriately enough). The campground on the island is the older of the two. Our observations are mostly based on what we saw in our campground. Although we did ride bikes through it, we didn’t make many detailed observations of the newer one.
So let’s start off with the campsites. We’ve been in RV campgrounds that were glorified parking lots. NOT the case here. The sites were spacious, and adequately far enough away from the others that you still felt like you were “in the woods”. The picture below was about as crowded as things got during the three days we were there.
Apart from that, the power worked, the water worked, and the site was level. There was a picnic table and a fire ring, and those were both in good repair as well. So a thumbs-up on the site itself.
There were other facilities. We were a short walk from the restroom and shower house. As I said before, this was the older campground, so these facilities were older, but clean and perfectly functional. We didn’t use them much, but I did hit the showers here once, just to make sure they worked (and indeed they did).
And if, for some reason, you find yourself there without your RV, there are cabins available for rental as well. I suppose if you had more in your party than would fit in your rig, this would be a good option. And they were kind of rustic looking, so I just liked them anyway. No idea what they’re like on the inside though.
But the thing we really liked about Myre – Big Island State Park were all the activities. And here, I’m not talking “activities” like potlucks and bingo nights. I mean “activities” as in “Active Recreation”, and we tried to squeeze in as many of those as we could.
I had already started training for our Thanksgiving 5k when we stayed here, and this place is covered with trails. So rather than run on more roads (bleh), we took to the trails for our jogging.
This was awesome don’t-bother-to-look-at-a-map-just-go kind of trail running. And the scenery as you jog the perimeter of the island is amazing.
There’s not much here for road bikes, but we had our mountain bikes along, and I’m glad we did.
Those trails that we were running on? There are plenty of them that are designated for mountain bikes as well, and we rode ALL OVER this place. You can find the trail map of Myre – Big Island State Park here. We were able to ride for multiple miles without retracing our paths.
But the park also connects with the Blazing Star State Trail. This is a paved trail that stretches for farther than I was willing to explore the day I rode it. The main thing I did with that trail was to ride it into nearby Albert Lea to go to the Kwik Trip for some groceries and things to put on the grill. It was an easy enough trip that should save you the headache of breaking camp if you bring bikes but not a tow vehicle. (That’s how we do it.)
Another thing we did was to indulge in Stef’s latest recreation obsession – Stand-Up-Paddleboarding. With all the islands and lakes around, this is a natural. They rent paddleboards, kayaks, and more from the visitors center at the park entrance.
The staff in the visitor’s center was friendly, and since it wasn’t high season, they just left the paddle boards out for us on the honor system (since they rent by the hour). Stef enjoyed this immensely.
They rented other gear as well, which we didn’t have time to try. They also sold firewood, which we did have time to try, and you can see that in our video review of the Winnebago Fuse.
Now, we were there during what I’d call a shoulder season. It certainly wasn’t high season, so many of the camp sites were empty.
And it wasn’t winter, so most everything was still up and running and available to us (I don’t imagine they rent stand-up paddleboards in February in Minnesota). And since it got cooler at night, the mosquitoes were almost non-existent. The mosquitoes are the one negative I’ve read about this place. Fortunately, given our experience with mosquitoes in Texas, we didn’t encounter any, but consider yourselves warned.
And the price was right. We stayed there for $29 per night – although there is a park entry fee that is charged separately from this. It’s $5, so it’s really more like $34 per night total, which is still not a bad deal. There were breaks in pricing for pass holders, and the staff actually tried to get us an even better deal than we got. The rates on the hourly rentals for the sporting equipment were, I felt, reasonable as well.
So – Though we try to take our RVing to more remote places these days, if you’re going to stay in a camp ground, you can do a lot worse than Myre – Big Island State Park. It’s pretty, everything works, and you can do that Active Recreation thing until you’re tired out.