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Jay Cooke State Park, Carlton

4.7
#19 of 142 in Nature in Minnesota
Jay Cooke State Park is a state park of Minnesota, United States, protecting the lower reaches of the St. Louis River. The park is located about 10mi southwest of Duluth and is one of the ten most visited state parks in Minnesota. The western half of the park contains part of a rocky, 13mi gorge. This was a major barrier to Native Americans and early Europeans traveling by canoe, which they bypassed with the challenging Grand Portage of the St. Louis River. The river was a vital link connecting the Mississippi waterways to the west with the Great Lakes to the east.
Today Minnesota State Highway 210 runs through Jay Cooke State Park. The 9mi of the route between Carlton and Highway 23—which include the park—are designated the Rushing Rapids Parkway, a state scenic byway.
The park is named for Pennsylvania financier Jay Cooke, who had developed a nearby power plant, which is still in use. The Grand Portage trail and three districts of 1930s park structures are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The first 2350acre of land on which the park is situated were donated to the state by the Saint Louis Power Company in 1915. The park remained generally undeveloped until 1933, when a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp was established on the site. The CCC camp built a rustic swinging bridge over the St. Louis River just slightly downstream from some torrential rapids and waterfalls. This camp also built a picnic shelter. The camp was disbanded in 1935, but a second camp was set up in 1939. This camp rebuilt the swinging bridge and built the River Inn, which now houses the visitor center. This camp was disbanded in 1942, shortly before the federal government ended the CCC entirely. In 1945 the state began to add more land to the park, eventually giving it its current size of 8818acre.
To visit Jay Cooke State Park on your trip to Carlton, use our Carlton journey planner.
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Jay Cooke State Park Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
191 reviews
Google
4.8
TripAdvisor
  • As a Minnesota native I just love exploring all its different landscapes. This park is a beauty. So much to see you could spend days here hiking, camping etc. we were just passing through but decided ...  more »
  • We stayed in the camp ground for 2 nights. Nice facilities, close to everything. Only 5 mins to Carlton and 20 mins to Duluth. But too much mosquitoes so remember to bring bug spray.  more »
Google
  • Went for a hike there 3/23/19, beautiful day! Weather was amazing, first day in the 50's this year I think. Alright down to brass tacks, I'm sure you want to know what it was that made this a 5 star place, and less about the weather. First off the staff was having an extremely busy day. Tons of people were out and about enjoying the park. They were still patient and courteous though. They were a great beginning to a great day in the park. Secondly, the price of admission is so low. $7 for the day or $35 for the year, and that is to access any park in Minnesota. The last thing I'd mention is how maintained the trails were. Everything we went on was well cleared and taken care of! All in all, a fabulous place with fantastic staff leaves me ecstatic. I hope I can get back there again real soon.
  • First time here. Only had time to check out the suspension bridge. Was pretty neat. River was still iced over a bit. Was cool to see it in late March like this. Path to the bridge was mostly cleared off snow and ice, except for a little spot.

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