LAKE VERMILION STATE PARK — Visitors here will have more comfortable overnight accommodations, particularly for winter, beginning Dec. 31. That’s when new camper cabins open for use. A …
LAKE VERMILION STATE PARK — Visitors here will have more comfortable overnight accommodations, particularly for winter, beginning Dec. 31. That’s when new camper cabins open for use.
A total of eight new cabins will soon be open year-round, according to Park Manager Jim Essig, although only four cabins will be open the first week so park managers can make sure their water treatment system and other infrastructure is working properly. The other four cabins will be tested the week after, with all eight cabins expected to be open by mid-January.
Visitors wanting to take advantage of the new accommodations can begin making reservations on Dec. 28 for stays beginning on Dec. 31. Reservations can be made by calling 866-857-2757.
The cabins reflect the latest in green building practices, including all LED lighting and motion detecting fixtures to minimize lighting needs. The units are built from structural insulated panels, which will provide maximum heating efficiency. The units feature rustic tamarack interiors and are equipped with heat, electricity and Wi-Fi, and an outdoor food prep counter, fire ring, and table. Outfitted with either three full-size bunks, or two full-size and two twin-size bunks, each cabin can accommodate up to six people. A new shower and restroom building, as well as an adjacent vault toilet, serve the cabins.
Essig said park staff had originally hoped to have the cabins open by last fall, but that delays in the delivery of some materials, due mostly to the COVID-19 pandemic, delayed completion of the units.
Essig said he expects plenty of interest in the new cabins, which would be consistent with demand at other area parks. “They’re very popular,” said Jen Westlund, manager at Bear Head Lake State Park in an interview earlier in 2020. Bear Head has had four of the small cabins for several years and getting a reservation can be like winning the lottery.
The cabins, which run between 300-400 square feet, may be rustic, but they’re a huge step up from tent camping, which makes them popular with a wide range of park users, according to Westlund. “People just wish we had more of them,” she said. The Bear Head units currently rent for $75 a night and the Lake Vermilion units will cost the same, although Essig said a rate increase is likely in the coming months.
The camper cabin development was primarily funded by capital bonding funds provided by the Legislature in 2014 and 2017.
Additional camping planned
With work completed on the eight camper cabins, park staff are turning their attention to additional accommodations in a second campground designed around off-highway vehicles. Since OHV use is prohibited in state parks, the portion of the state park located southeast of Hwy. 169 was recently reclassified as a state recreation area, making it possible to utilize ATVs and other off-road vehicles there. Initial surveying is already underway for the new campground, which is expected to house 20-25 campsites. Design work is expected to begin within a couple months, said Essig. He’d like to see the new camping facility open for visitors in 2022, but said given past experience, he’s figuring it won’t happen before 2023. “Opening in 2022 would be best-case scenario,” he said.
The new campground would be located along the new Prospector Loop ATV trail, which connects several communities in the region, including Ely, Tower-Soudan, Babbitt, and Embarrass.
Combined with the eight new camper cabins, the new campground would effectively double the overnight capacity of the park. The park’s Vermilion Ridge Campground, which offers 32 campsites along with two group camps, opened in 2017.