By Bailey Hovland
We are a camping family. Our vacations consist of weekends at Minnesota State Parks, spending the days out on nature trails and spending the nights by the campfire, roasting marshmallows and telling stories. And living in the Willmar Lakes Area, we spend plenty of time out at the different camping spots around the area.
A happy camper at Sibley State Park, a.k.a. a younger me with marshmallows and chocolate smeared around my face.
Kandiyohi County’s very own Sibley State Park is where my dad took me for one of our first camping expeditions. We were hit by a bout of pouring rain but stayed dry under one of the log and stone shelters, building a fire in the fireplace and making s’mores. Since my first visit to Sibley, I’ve climbed Mt. Tom, spent afternoons on the sandy beach of Lake Andrew, and hiked the park’s nature trails. This summer, Sibley is celebrating its 100th year as a state park. In honor of the centennial, the park will be hosting night hikes, music on the shores of Lake Andrew, Fish Frenzy Fridays, and more. A full list of the event schedule can be found by Clicking Here. With a total of 141 campsites and 4 camper cabins, Sibley State Park is an ideal spot for camping.
The Kandiyohi County Parks are also great places to pitch your tent. Games Lake County Park is a part of the Norway chain of lakes in the Willmar Lakes Area. With a sandy beach, campground, volleyball nets, and more, this county park is a hot spot in the summer. I’ve attended birthday parties, slumber parties, and night game sessions out at Games Lake, showing how often people bring their friends and families out to the park. Green Lake County Park is another great place for a camping getaway. On the northeastern shore of Green Lake, this park is a picturesque camping spot, featuring clear lake water, a swimming
Late nights spent under the stars are some of the best camping memories (and some of the most restful nights of sleep).
beach with a slide and raft, and 54 paved camping sites with electricity. On the biggest lake in the Willmar Lakes Area, Green Lake County Park also has a whole host of water activities, including paddle boards, kayaks, and paradise pads for rent. Diamond Lake County Park is on, you guessed it, the shores of Diamond Lake. Located approximately four miles north of Atwater, this park has a swimming beach, playground, camp store, and more. With an ample northern and walleye population, Diamond Lake is also a great place to try your luck at fishing. And finally, there’s Big Kandiyohi Lake County Park, which is so big it is separated into east and west campgrounds. Both campgrounds have similar features, including beach access, picnic area, and WiFi availability (for an additional fee). Together, both campgrounds have 174 campsites. All of the county parks are tent and RV friendly, so regardless of your preference for a metal or nylon barrier between you and the great outdoors, the parks have you covered. You can reserve a campsite online at one of five Kandiyohi County Parks by Clicking Here.
There are also a few other campgrounds around the Willmar Lakes Area, namely the Old Wagon Campground, Hide-Away Campground, and Westrich RV Park & Campground. The Old Wagon Campground is located on Long Lake North just outside of Hawick. With a launching ramp, swimming beach, playground, snack bar, and bait & tackle shop, your family is sure to want to stay a while. Pets are also allowed at this campground, so you can bring your four-legged family members along too! Hide-Away Campground is also on Long Lake, one of the area’s best
From the stoic trees of the quiet woods to the restless prairie grass, the Willmar Lakes Area is the perfect place to plan your next camping getaway.
largemouth bass and sunfish lakes. I don’t think I’ll have to tell you twice to bring your fishing poles along if you decide to stay at Hide-Away. Finally, Westrich RV Park is a great spot to park your RV for the summer, with a wading pool, basketball court, playground, and horseshoe pits. The lodge building has a community room and an arcade in case you (or your gamer family members) want to spend a little more time indoors.
And last but certainly not least is the Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center, where the only lodging on the property is a yurt. If you’re wondering what a yurt is, you’re not alone. Originating in Central Asia from several nomadic groups, yurts are round structures supported by a latticework of wood. North American adaptations of yurts are engineered to stand extreme weather conditions and are not intended to be moved often (unlike their historical counterparts). Prairie Woods’ yurt is perfect for spring, summer, and fall camping, providing a unique shelter from the elements. With sprawling hiking trails, indoor rock climbing, an educational treehouse, and a gorgeous observatory, Prairie Woods ELC is a perfect place to spend a weekend away.
Because of my extensive camping background, I’ve camped across the country, backpacking through the Beartooth Mountains, pitching my tent at Yellowstone, and exploring the waterfalls of Great Falls Park. But there is nothing quite like the rolling prairie and quiet lakes of the Willmar Lakes Area, a place I am proud to call my home.