We had such high hopes for Crow Wing State Park near Brainerd, Minnesota. It sounded so pretty; wooded and next to the mighty Mississippi River.
The reason we chose this park was that it sits at the southern terminus of the Paul Bunyan Trail, which we were dying to ride. Since the park is very popular, we actually made reservations, which we rarely do, paying an additional $8.50 online reservation fee to ensure we'd get a site with electric hookup. There are only 13 electric sites in the park, plus many more primitive sites.
There had been a lot of severe storms in this part of Minnesota leading up to our visit. Tree damage in the Brainerd area had been especially bad, but the park was in good shape when we arrived other than some potholes and puddles in the unpaved park roads. We checked in, found site #2, and got settled in.
We soon discovered that the mosquitoes here were worse than any campground we'd stayed at in Minnesota; in fact, than any campground we've stayed at period. We'd actually left one national forest campground (Lane Spring in Missouri, covered in this blog post) after just one night of the two we'd paid for for the same reason -- too many mosquitoes..
But this was worse. MUCH worse.
Any time we were outside of the coach, we were swarmed. Poor Paisley was doubly swarmed. It was as if an army of mosquitoes had taken up Crow Wing as their base camp.
As a result, we did a minimum of walking and didn't even get down to the trail to to the Mississippi River. When leaving the coach for any reason, we resorted to wearing long pants and raincoats, tightly closed around our faces. This in hot and humid July was none too comfortable and certainly didn't invite long hikes. And of course, we still got bit. I even got bit on my eyelid, one of the only places I had exposed skin.
The only full day we spent at the campground, it rained the first half the day, so we didn't even get to ride the Paul Bunyan Trail, our only real reason for visiting the park. We could have gone out in the afternoon, but we just couldn't bring ourselves to put on bike shorts and deal with the swarms of mosquitoes. We felt like prisoners inside our rig.
We left as early as we could the following morning.
After leaving, we stopped at the closest Walmart (NO mosquitoes in that parking lot -- ahhhhhh!) and hit their outdoor section hard. We're much better prepared now! We had also previously ordered a screen room online, and picked that up. You'll see photos of that in a later post. Never again will we be sitting ducks for the kind of mosquitoes we experienced at this campground.
Next time in Minnesota, I think we'll give Crow Wing State Park a miss. There are plenty of other campgrounds that are not nearly so mosquito infested, and less expensive to boot. Including our reservation fee and a daily parking fee of $5, we paid $38.25/night, one of our most expensive campgrounds so far.
Fortunately, we did get to ride part of the Paul Bunyan Trail (though not this most southern part) later in our time in Minnesota, and we'll write about that in a later post as well. Stay tuned!
Emily & Barry
We're a long-married, early-retired couple who are currently traveling as nomads with no fixed home base. After years of living in North Carolina (Emily's home state), we spent 18 months living oceanfront on Ambergris Caye, Belize, a year road-tripping the US in a Honda CR-V, a year in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and are now roaming North America in our 32' motorhome, Pearl, following warm weather whenever possible.
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