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

Ribbon cutting for grand opening of the Vermilion Ridge Campsite. L to R: Ray Toutloff – Tribal Council District 2 Representative, Brandon Benner – Tribal Council District 1 Representative (1 of 6 drummers for the ceremony), David Morrison Sr. – Tribal Council secretary/treasurer (His son was the drum keeper for the ceremony), Mark Holsten, Erika Rivers, Rep. Rob Ecklund, Patty Thielen, Sen. Tom Bakk, DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr, Larry Sutherlund – general manager US Steel, Tim Tomsich – Breitung Township chairman.

Mankato Times

SOUDAN, MINN. — 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).

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