You can do tons of research on trying to find a good campsite, but it can be a crap shoot if you have never been there before. Also, there is no guarantee when on a road trip that the spot you want is convenient to where and when you want to stop. Therefore, it is wonderful to stumble upon a good campsite when you least expect it.
Heading west to Theodore Roosevelt National Park
It was 2 a.m., and I was west of Minneapolis on I-94 heading to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. I had hoped to be resting by a campfire by 10 or 11 p.m., but traffic was rough through northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin as everyone was heading north for the long Labor Day weekend.
I then hit Minneapolis and St. Paul, so here was an hour long stretch of city and suburb where nary a good campsite could be found – at least none that I was aware of. I kept plugging away west, but my eyes were getting tired and dry. Then it started to rain. I did not feel like driving in the rain or setting up a campsite in the rain, but I took the lesser of two evils and decided to stop.
The search for a good campsite and success in Melrose, Minnesota
I started to pull off at each exit that mentioned a campground, but when I got to the split after the exit, the signs for campgrounds were too far off the main road. I wanted to find something within a couple of miles from the Interstate, so I would not have to back track too far the next day.
Finally in Melrose, Minnesota there was a sign for camping without even a mileage sign on it. This looked promising. I snaked through this small town until I came to a town park. The park looked just like any other park in any other small town. The only difference though was this had a small campground at the far end.
I read the campground instructions and paid the $9.00 fee and dropped it in the box and proceeded to set up camp. There were a few other campers there, but plenty of room in the grass for my tent. I heard water rushing as I set up camp and discovered a river flowed by the camp. Rushing water is the perfect sound to sleep to.
After setting up camp, I put my chair down and had a beer. There was no time to get a fire going as it was near 3 a.m., and I wanted to get on the road by 8 a.m. the next morning. I did not need a fire as the sky was lighting up all around. I pulled up the radar app on my phone to see it was a small thunderstorm system. I was at the tail end of it and it was clear skies after that. I was elated because I had a week on the open road ahead of me and this was just the first of many adventures.
I enjoyed the light display while having a couple of beers and soon went to bed. I was up at 7 a.m. and I walked over to check out the river. The Sauk River flowed right out of a lake right beneath a dam. I crossed the street and took some pictures of the scenic lake and then turned around and captured the sunrise over the campground.
I took down my tent and rolled west towards Theodore Roosevelt content in the fact that I got a few hours sleep in a perfect little campground along the Sauk River in Melrose, Minnesota. This campground has been bookmarked in my memory for future road trips or I might just make Melrose a future destination.
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the more beer you drink, the more sufficient each campsite will look, ya know?
the lazy travelers recently posted..the lazy girls’ guide to villa living
Yep, after a few beers, they all look the same 🙂
LOL very true.
So glad you were eventually successful! Driving without accommodations can be stressful – at least that’s been my experience lately, haha. Luckily, you have your tent and can find such wonderful cheap accommodations.
Erin Marie recently posted..Cross Country Adventure: Week One Recap
Sometimes I will pony up and stay at a hotel, but I don’t like to spend so much on a hotel when you are only going to be there for like 5-6 hours. Seems such a waste. I prefer to camp anyway if the weather is accommodating.
You’re way more determined than I am. I’d have said “screw it” and just found a hotel room! Glad it worked out for ya.
I don’t like staying a motel if I am only going to be there for 4-5 hours. My screw it default is pulling over and sleeping in my car.
So glad to hear that Minnesota greeted you with the wonderful finds it offers up — that small campground was a pure joy of a find! You were wise not to continue to travel by car in the thunderstorm. Minnesota weather is often tricky. Hard straight-line winds are often a surprise as Minnesota has many pop-up tornadoes leaving as little as five minutes to shelter-in-place. My husband and I and our two dogs had hard straight-line winds hit our tent produced by a nearby tornado. Me in one corner, husband in another corner, dogs in their night kennels at each of the other two corners…it was a wild ride Mr. Toad. We weathered it well and I do believe the balanced weight in each corner helped save us and our tent. Twenty minutes later it was as if nothing had ever occurred! Nothing but blue afternoon skies followed by a calm/cooler night. That’s what it is all about, yes? The adventure and the unknown around the bend. My husband sheepishly asked, “Does it get any worse for a day trip of camping than a small tornado?” My thoughts went to thinking of BEAR INTRUSION. “Yes dear, it could have been a lot worse :)” So, dear Ted, keep the travel stories coming, we love ’em! As always, be safe out there.