DNR announces next phase of construction at Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine State Park

SENATOR Tom Bakk, who grew up on Lake Vermilion, spoke at the ribbon cutting Thursday for the new campground at the Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine State Park. Bakk said over $50 million has been spent on the park with another $50 million needed “to make it be this park the jewel it’s going to be.” Photo by Renee Passal.

Progress is continuing on the development of recreation opportunities at Minnesota’s newest state park, and there is more to come.
At a June 7 ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new campground at Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine State Park, Minnesota State Parks and Trails Director Erika Rivers provided an update on current projects, along with a preview of future development planned at the park, contingent on funding.
“Today we realize a decade-long dream of returning this land to all people to enjoy,” Rivers said. “This northern Minnesota state park provides a new place for everyone to call their place at the lake. Visitors can watch in awe as the sun sets over stony island outcrops, the lake glowing in a Vermilion hue. They can also rest peacefully—tired from a day’s exertions of hiking, biking, boating or fishing—under the stars, as humankind has done here for centuries.”
Projects currently underway or starting this year at the park include:
• Eight camper cabins that will each sleep up to six people.
• Accessibility updates to a boat-in cabin on Blue Heron Island in Mattson Bay.
• A hiking trail from the campground to Onumuni Overlook on Cable Bay.
• A picnic shelter designed for large groups near the historic mine.
Future construction will include:
• A Lake Lodge, which will serve as a visitor center.
• A trail-oriented campground, south of Highway 169 that will connect to the Mesabi, Prospectors Loop and Taconite trails, as well as grant-in-aid and state forest trail networks nearby.
The recently completed campground features three group camps and 33 drive-in campsites, all with electricity and Wi-Fi.
Other park recently completed amenities at the park include hiking trails, a public water access in Cable Bay, and a new segment of the paved Mesabi Trail that connects the park to the nearby town of Tower.
Another highlight of the park is the Armstrong Bay Day-Use Area, completed in 2013, which includes boat dockage, a fishing pier and a picnic area.
Daily tours of the historic mine started Memorial Day weekend and will continue through September.
“We are excited that park visitors who come for a mine tour, a family picnic or a day of fishing can now extend their stay by camping overnight,” Rivers said. “The Vermilion Ridge campground is a beautiful addition to the park, with many energy-saving features and easy access to miles of hiking trails in Minnesota’s newest state park.”
Examples of the energy-saving features at the new campground include LED lights, plumbing fixtures activated by sensors to conserve water and solar panels on the rooftops of the shower buildings that help pre-heat water to take some of the pressure off the water heater.
For a map of the park and other information, contact the DNR Information Center by emailing info.dnr@state.mn.us or by calling 888-646-6367 (8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday).