By Chris Schultz Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal & Howard Lake Herald, Minn. September 1, 1997
Camping at Lake Carlos State Park
Occasionally a camping trip provides exactly what is expected - a beautiful, relaxing, and peaceful experience in the great outdoors.
Mother Nature doesn't demand her sheer power be known by blowing through a big thunderstorm and drenching your sleeping bags and wildlife, like raccoon, aren't intent on scurrying into your campsite to see what you had for supper or steal a marshmallow or two. Everything is calm and peaceful, and you get home with an understanding of how wonderful and magnificent the outdoors really are.
A few weeks ago at Lake Carlos State Park, just north of Alexandria on Highway 29, that is the kind of camping trip my wife and I enjoyed.
Along with many other campers at the park, we enjoyed the weather, interpretive nature trails, the tremendous view from Inspiration Peak, the recreational opportunities of Lake Carlos, and a few quiet evenings around the campfire.
Like most or all Minnesota state parks, Lake Carlos State Park provides many recreational and educational opportunities, wildlife is abundant, and the campgrounds and facilities are clean and well designed.
If you're camping, it's just simply a great place to be. You can reserve a site and set up your tent in the upper campground amidst the maple and basswood trees overlooking a grassy meadow or you can choose a spot in lower campground, where electrical hookups are available, and camp along the shore of Lake Carlos. The view of the lake from the lower campground is more than you could expect, but if you want to camp there, make your reservations 90 days in advance.
The park is 1,210 acres in size and is set with in a hardwood transition zone between the prairies of the southwest and the coniferous forest of the northeast. Naturalist and interpretive programs are offered, and park goers can enjoy a swimming beach with bathhouse, boat beach and boat access to Lake Carlos, three miles of interpretive trails, 13 miles of hiking trails, and eight miles of horseback riding trails with a horseback riders campground.
If you're a winter enthusiast, the park is open year around and does have cross-county ski and snowmobile trails.
Along with camping, there's a ton of interesting and fun stuff to do at the park, with highlights being all the recreational opportunities provided by Lake Carlos and the view from the top of Inspiration Peak.
Lake Carlos is a big, deep and clear lake excellent for swimming, boating, and fishing. My wife and I spent one complete day on the lake getting some sun, boating, and fishing.
We tried a honey hole on the northeast side of the lake that an area guide directed me to and we managed to pull in a couple largemouth bass and a few sunnies.
Along with the lake, Inspiration Peak, not in the park, but about 20 minutes to the northwest, must be experienced.
The peak, just west of Urbank, rises 1,750 feet, 400 feet above the surrounding countryside and the view provided is worth every step of the quarter-mile hike to the top. Inspiration Peak is a state wayside managed by Lake Carlos State Park.
On occasion, this being our first, you experience a camping trip where the peacefulness of the outdoors and sleeping in a tent are not challenged by a hungry raccoon, a pending thunderstorm, or a cloud of mosquitoes. Lake Carlos State Park was a great place to have that experience.
For more information on Lake Carlos State Park call (320) 852-7200.