Lake Carlos State Park

Quick Facts

Lake Carlos State Park

Minnesota

(320) 852-7200

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

Sculpted by ancient glaciers, Lake Carlos State Park contains a tamarack bog, marshes, woodland ponds, and lakes. A variety of recreational activities revolve around the lake. Clear and deep, Lake Carlos offers visitors a perfect setting for swimming, fishing, boating, camping, hiking and horseback riding. In the winter, ski from the tamarack bog to a maple-basswood forest.

Receding glaciers left most of Douglas County blanketed with layers of gravel and sand. This "drift"contains pebbles and round stones of all sizes. Retreating glaciers also left huge chunks of broken ice. When these blocks melted, they formed the area's lakes. Lake Carlos is 150 feet deep in places. The outlet at the northeast corner is the source of the Long Prairie River. Although no rock outcrops occur in this area, boulders taken from glacial drift supplied farmers in the area with building blocks for the foundations and walls of their homes and barns. This granite masonry can also be seen in the park's beach house and pump station.

The park's 1,231 acres lie within a hardwood transition zone between the prairies to the southwest and the coniferous forest to the northeast. The park's glacial moraine topography is dotted with woodland ponds, marshes, wet meadows, and lakes cradled among the hills. Visitors can hike or ski from a tamarack bog to a maple-basswood stand, or from open grassland to forested ridges...all within minutes.

Map of Lake Carlos (MN)

Latitude, Longitude: 45.994138, -95.338740

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Activities

  • Boating

    A boat launch is located on the north end of Lake Carlos, near the park's campground. In addition to this drive-in access, canoeists may take advantage of carry-in access on Hidden Lake.

  • Camping

    The park contains two semi-modern campgrounds with a total of 121 campsites (81 with electricity) and four year-round camper cabins with electricity. Amenities include a dump station, showers and flush toilets open seasonally. The park has a modern group camp (capacity 60) with cabins, a dining hall, a classroom building, and a sanitation building with showers and flush toilets as well as two primitive group camps with vault toilets, shelter, and water. There is a horseback riders campground with running water and pit toilets

  • Fishing

    A fish cleaning building is available for visitor use.

  • Hiking

    There are three miles contained within two self-guided trails. Visitors should inquire abut these at the park office. Fourteen additional miles of hiking across rolling hills takes adventurers through forested areas and mature hardwoods (and is great for fall hiking).

  • Historic Sites

    A number of buildings in the park were built during the WPA-era and are on the National Register of Historic Places.

  • Horseback Riding

    The park offers 9 miles of hose trails in addition to providing a horse camp. Riders should call the park first for trail conditions, as trails may be too wet for riding.

  • Picnicking

    A picnic area near the beach includes tables and fire rings, as well as an open shelter and volleyball court.

  • RVing

    Gravel spurs are available at all campsites. The RV length limit is 50 feet. A dump station is available seasonally.

  • Winter Sports

    The park grooms five miles of classical cross-country ski trails. There are nine miles of snowmobile trails groomed in the park. The park trails are connected to the 500-mile Douglas Area Trail Association trail system. Snowshoeing is allowed anywhere in the park except on groomed trails. The picnic shelter is partially enclosed in winter and heated by a wood stove. Wood is supplied by the park.

Seasonality/Weather

Modern bathroom facilities, showers, the dump station and most water sources are shut down seasonally (mid-October through early May). The upper and lower campground remain open year-round and are offered at rustic rates when the shower buildings are closed. Reservations are recommended during the regular camping season and not necessary November 1 through April 1.

Park Partners

Directions

Driving

The park entrance is located 10 miles north of Alexandria on State Highway 29, then 2 miles west on Highway 38.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(320) 852-7200

Links