Jul 27 2009
Lake Shetek is the largest lake in southwest Minnesota, and the state park features the lake. Boat and canoe rentals are available, a small swimming beach is in the park, and park rangers told us where some good fishing spots were. In addition to the water activities, there’s a playground, picnic area, and several trails.
The campground at Lake Shetek is large. We were in campsite 78e, the last one in the Wolf Point campground. Whereas the sites at Ft. Ridgely were spread apart and quite secluded, the ones at Lake Shetek were much closer together. We noticed many families who were using adjacent campsites and enjoying large gatherings since the sites came together nicely. Our site was one of the larger ones.
Although not right on the water, the campsites have a view of the lake through the trees. The sites are not heavily wooded but are nicely shaded. The campground was full when we were there, as it is most weekends in July when the Wilder Pageant is playing in Walnut Grove, a ways down the road.
Our campsite was not very level; the “forward slant” which was indicated when we made the reservation was a little more than we expected. Fortunately we had enough blocks to get our trailer leveled properly. Some sites were more level than others, but as a whole, it’s not a level campground.
There were two well-maintained restroom/shower buildings in the campground, so they’re convenient to all of the sites.
We had 30-amp service at our site; a dump station is available in the campground. Park rangers were friendly and accessible, as was our campground host. Each site has a large picnic table and a fire ring.
Our site 78 was the closest to the horseshoes, fish-cleaning shed, swimming beach, and playground. It was the farthest from the campground dumpsters. Recycling containers were available at the restroom buildings. Site 78 was a little tricky to back into because of a water runoff area, and we couldn’t open our canopy because of a tree next to the camper. It was shady enough that we didn’t miss the canopy, but others might take this into consideration.
One of the reasons we chose Lake Shetek was because of its bicycle trail. There is a 6-mile loop of the Casey Jones State Trail that runs to Currie and back, and it’s a nice paved trail. The portion that runs along the road is perhaps more challenging, with some longer hills on the prairie; the portion that hugs the lake and the Des Moines River has gentler slopes and is more scenic. Along this portion one can stop at the Currie Dam. There are benches and historic markers along the trail in various places. The trail is great for riding with younger children because there aren’t a lot of roads to cross, and especially the river side is very manageable for kids. (My six-year-old and eight-year-old, who are both relatively new to riding without training wheels, both did the complete loops with just a few pauses to walk their bikes up hills.)
In Currie, there is parking for the bike trail at the End O Line Railroad Park and Museum. We took a guided tour of this railroad museum and pioneer village, which is filled with railroad history, and you can take a spin on the railroad turntable.
Currie’s main street features some stores and restaurants, including some pretty big Blue Bunny ice cream cones at Currie Corner for only $2.25. Ice cream treats, including 1919 root beer floats, are also available at the Trail’s End store along the bike path near the state park entrance.
We encountered several people geocaching in and around the park; I believe there are at least four caches in the area. (Note–and I don’t think this is a spoiler–the cache at the dam is a virtual cache. Some geocachers were very frustrated with this one and finally asked about it at the park office.) One geocache is part of the Minnesota state parks Geocaching Safari program and the rest have been left by other parties.
The Friends of Lake Shetek group is sponsoring a giveaway of a rod & reel with a children’s prize drawing each weekend this summer; they also host an Easter egg hunt and a pumpkin festival each year, which are free of charge. I was impressed at how the State Park and the nearby community of Currie seem to support and promote each other.