Big Bog State Recreation Area – Southeast

Parks & Geology / Thursday, September 27th, 2018

If you haven’t been to Big Bog State Recreation Area in Waskish, you are really missing out.
There is so much to write about this place, that I can’t even fit it in one post!
Coincidentally, the recreation area also has two parts; southeast and northwest.
Located on Minnesota State Highway 72, just north of Waskish, Big Bog has been called Minnesota’s last true wilderness.
A relatively new addition to the Minnesota State Parks system, it covers 9,459 acres of swamps, bogs, and upland islands.
It’s worth taking a step back to give a little history of the area.
Big Bog was part of Glacial Lake Agassiz, formed during the last ice age.
You can see remnants in the beach ridges of the Upper Red Lake.
The Anishinabe tribe made use of the area until the late 19th century.
In a massive logging effort during the 1920s and 1930s, most of the pines in the area were cut down but the swampy Big Bog area was passably untouched.
When the Upper Red Lake walleye population suffered a significant crash in the 1990s, an effort began to create a sustainable tourist attraction in the area.
The park was started by local grassroots efforts in 2002, becoming a state recreation area in June 2006.
Fast forward to today;
the southeastern section includes a sandy beach, a fire tower, camping and lots of trails for hiking.
Fall is an exceptional time to visit,
which must be why it lands on Explore Minnesota’s 10 Fall Hikes this year!
I loved hiking through the hardwood swamp forest,
getting up close to some of the most incredible wildlife including endangered species.
If you are there long enough,
you might see white-tailed deer, black bear, bobcats, bald eagles, spotted blood salamander and moose!
I’ll be honest,
I was not so lucky
I blame my incessant camera-clicks.
There are other things to note in the southeastern area including
Waskish Beach off Red Lake
where you can fish, swim, picnic and bird watch
(just watch out for the Scouring Rush, seriously).
Fun Fact: At 444 square miles, Red Lake is Minnesota’s largest lake wholly contained within state boundaries.
You can also brave the 138 steps to the top of the fire tower next to the Visitor Center to get a glimpse of the incredible Upper Red Lake (there’s even a webcam you can check out!).

If you want to do more than live vicariously through my experience, you can reserve one of the many campsites, and year-round camper cabins the park offers.

I always go for the camper cabins if they are available because they have electricity and are heated for use year-round.

While they do not have indoor plumbing, there is a modern shower/restroom not far at the Visitor Center.
You can make a reservation at or by calling 866-857-2757.
Have you had a chance to visit Big Bog yet?

This post was brought to you by Explore Minnesota, but opinions are all my own. #onlyinmn

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