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Backcountry camping to close in 18 state forests, 6 state parks and on Superior Hiking Trail

The Superior National Forest began restricting dispersed camping outside developed campgrounds Friday.

Firefighters monitor a small defensive fire on the southwest side of the Greenwood fire Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021. Contributed / Superior National Forest

The Department of Natural Resources will restrict dispersed camping in 16 state forests as well as backcountry camping in six state parks in Northeastern Minnesota starting Monday due to wildfires in the region.

The restricted area includes northern St. Louis County as well as all of Lake, Cook and Koochiching counties.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will restrict dispersed camping in state forests and backpacking in state forests in northern St. Louis County as well as all of Lake, Cook and Koochiching counties. Contributed / Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

The only exceptions to the DNR's restriction are the four designated backcountry camping sites in Split Rock Lighthouse State Park.


“We don’t take these decisions lightly and, when conditions allow, we will ease restrictions," DNR Division of Forestry Director Forrest Boe said in a news release. "In the interim, we appreciate people’s support as we all work through this dangerous wildfire season together.”

All campsites on the Superior Hiking Trail will also be closed beginning Monday. The Superior Hiking Trail Association previously recommended against camping on the trail, but will soon prohibit it due to camping closures on Superior National Forest and DNR-managed land.

In coordination with the state of Minnesota, the Superior National Forest announced Friday that camping outside its developed campgrounds is now restricted because of wildfires.

More than 30 of the developed campgrounds in the state forest remain open. Several of the developed campgrounds in the Superior National Forest are still closed: McDougal Lake, Little Isabella, Iron Lake and Trails End.


  • Boundary Waters closure extended through Sept. 3 Permits have been canceled and refunded through Sept. 3.
  • Campgrounds closed on upper Gunflint Trail The U.S. Forest Service announced more closures as the fires continue to grow.

"This closure will be in place until it is safe to lift, forest resources are freed up from firefighting, and likely until the Arrowhead receives a season-ending rain or snow event," a news release from the Forest Service said.
The camping restriction reduces the chance of search-and-rescue resources being diverted from firefighting operations, emergency evacuations and illegal campfires.

The estimated size of the Greenwood Fire in Lake County remained at nearly 26,000 acres with no containment on Friday. The John Ek fire, also in Superior National Forest, remained at nearly 1,600 acres, while the Whelp Fire remained at about 50 acres.

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