Minnesota is home to 67 state parks totaling over 267,000 acres of protected land. Some of these parks are vast expanses of rolling wilderness and clear waters extending hundreds of miles.
The smallest of all Minnesota state parks is Franz Jevne State Park. Even though it’s tiny, Franz Jevne should be on your camping destination list.
Explore this beautiful stretch of land that shares a border with our northern neighbors in Canada. After reading this guide, you will no doubt want to visit in person.
The Cultural History of Franz Jevne State Park
Franz Jevne State Park is a 118-acre forested area located along the Rainy River in northern Minnesota. Visitors can stand on the river’s shore and easily see Ontario, Canada, in the distance.
People have inhabited this region since the glaciers retreated over two thousand years ago. The ancestors of the Algonquin people gathered along the banks of the Rainy River for trade and festivals as early as 20 CE.
The Rainy River and Rainy Lake in Koochiching County, MN, form the Rainy River Basin.
These waters supported the local tribes with abundant food and fresh water. This river also served as an important travel route throughout history.
The land comprising Franz Jevne State Park is sacred to many tribes, as evidenced by the extensive nearby burial mounds. One of the largest is the Grand Mound, just 25 miles outside the park.
The mid-1600s brought western explorers to what is now Minnesota. Europeans first settled near this location in the early 18th century with the establishment of Fort St. Charles in Lake of The Woods.
Franz Jevne State Park was privately-owned property until 1967. After declining to sell the land to the United States National Park Service, the Jevne family donated part of their private estate to the State of Minnesota.
The Smallest Park with the Biggest Wildlife
Franz Jevne State Park is the smallest state park in Minnesota, which is a state that is home to many expansive parks and forests. Don’t let the minuscule size fool you, though. The area offers spectacular hiking and sightseeing opportunities.
Bring along a camera and some bear spray. This northern retreat is home to some of the largest animals in North America.
You will likely hear timber wolves howling in the distance as you settle down in your tent at night. You don’t need to worry! These predators are timid around humans and are unlikely to approach you.
Make sure you secure any food or strong-smelling gear in a bear box to prevent scavengers from ravaging your camp. You will need to be on the lookout for more than just ravens and coyotes since black bears are known to inhabit this region.
While generally non-aggressive, bears are intelligent, strong, and dexterous enough to swipe the trail mix from your car. You won’t want to deal with that kind of damage!
During the day, you will probably get the chance to see moose grazing throughout the park. Keep your distance, as these massive herbivores are much more dangerous than any predator.
Do you enjoy birdwatching? If so, you will be delighted by the winged residents of Franz Jevne State Park.
You might spot bald eagles, hawks, herons, cormorants, pelicans, woodpeckers, and songbirds.
Check out the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Bird Checklist for Franz Jevne State Park to learn more.
Directions to Franz Jevne State Park
Franz Jevne State Park is in Birchdale, MN. It’s situated right on the border of northern Minnesota and Ontario, Canada.
If you are driving in from the southeast, you will probably pass through Duluth. Don’t forget to check out this list of fun things to do in Duluth, MN, while you are there.
Here’s how to navigate to Franz Jevne State Park if you are starting in Duluth, MN:
- Follow US-53 North for 156 miles
- Turn left onto County Road 332 South
- After three miles, turn left onto US-71 South
- After seven miles, follow MN-11 West for 29 miles
- Turn right onto County Road 85
Follow signs for Franz Jevne State Park campgrounds to find your spot.
To get to the park from the west, take ND-66 East until you reach MN-11 East. Follow MN-11 East for 109 miles until you reach County Road 85 on the left.
Where to Stay in Franz Jevne State Park
This little state park has a lot to offer visitors, but only 21 campsites are available for those staying the night. Fortunately, this undiscovered gem is often overlooked and rarely overbooked.
What should you do in the unlikely event you cannot find a spot at Franz Jevne State Park? Don’t worry—there are options nearby.
International Falls is a border town just 45 minutes east of the park. It’s a fun place to spend the evening in, and many hotels are available for a last-minute booking.
You might also enjoy mingling with fellow travelers at the restaurants and bars in International Falls. Don’t miss out on The Library, a favorite bistro among locals and visitors alike.
The campground at Franz Jevne State Park is rustic and features stunning views. The individual campsites are well-secluded and surrounded by foliage and hardwood forests.
Amenities at this park include 20-amp electrical hookups, a water pump, pit toilets, and a boat ramp. You can quickly get your boat out onto the Rainy River, which flows past the campground near many of the sites.
Gather around one of the group fire pits when night falls. If you forgot your firewood, you could purchase forest-safe firewood from the general store in nearby Birchdale.
Of the campground’s 21 sites, 18 are suitable for medium-sized campers and RVs. Heavy trailers and fifth-wheels are prohibited past the picnic area.
Experienced visitors recommend leaving any A-Class RV or camper longer than 20 feet at home. Some twists and turns in the park will cause these longer trailers to get stuck.
Three of the sites are walk-in only. If you want to camp in one of these secluded coves, you should bring your tent along.
Partial hookups are available if you need to plug in for the night, but it is primarily dry camping here. You will have access to hand-pumped water but neither running water nor a sewage dumping station.
Franz Jevne State Park is a lot of wilderness wrapped in a small package. Nature lovers will enjoy the stunning sights found around every corner of the park.
Northern Minnesota is a vast and wild place full of gorgeous lakes and streams supporting diverse wildlife. Camping at Franz Jevne State Park is a great way to explore this natural beauty.
Are you planning to visit during the summer? If so, remember to bring bug spray. This area is notorious for mosquitoes from June through August.
The park is open all year, but winters in northern Minnesota can be brutal. Bundle up if you are coming during the off-season.
Franz Jevne State Park is the perfect destination for hiking enthusiasts. Gear up and explore over two miles of hiking trails winding through the hardwood forest.
Since some dangerous wildlife lurks around northern Minnesota, you might want to invest in a can of bear-repellent spray. Bear spray is the most effective way to deter large animals, and most cans hold multiple uses.
Don’t forget your camera! There are innumerable picturesque views you’ll want to capture to remember for a lifetime.
You don’t have to settle for just gazing at the Rainy River. Set sail in a canoe or kayak to experience the full beauty of this place.
Just across the river, you can clearly see the shores of Canada. Take a break in the middle and enjoy the beautiful views.
Dock at the forested island in the middle of the Rainy River. If you like fishing, kick back and cast a line once you are there.
Franz Jevne State Park provides ample fishing opportunities all year. Since the area is less trafficked than other popular Minnesota fishing spots, you will surely get a bite.
Rainy River is home to a large population of diverse fish species. It is most notable for walleye, but you will also catch northern pike, smallmouth bass, and sturgeon.
This river was where a record-setting white sucker weighing over six pounds got caught in 1984. Get out there and see if you can break that record today!
Visit Franz Jevne State Park!
Big adventures come in small packages, as any Franz Jevne State Park visitor could tell you. Now that you know all about this gorgeous park, it’s time to go camping!
Do you want to discover more places to camp in Minnesota? Check out our Outdoors page to get the lowdown on Minnesota’s best State Parks and recreational areas.