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Nobles County camping all about quality

Dan (from left), Sandi and Kaida Altene set up their camper Friday afternoon at Olson Park on Lake Okabena in Worthington. (BRIAN KORTHALS/DAILY GLOBE)

Editor’s note: This is the second of a series on camping opportunities available in the region.

WORTHINGTON — Nobles County may not have an abundance of camping locations and opportunities, but what it lacks in numbers it makes up in quality.

There are three locations in the county where one can pack up the car and take the family to pitch up the tent or park the RV. Two parks border both East and West Graham Lakes: Maka-Oicu and Fury’s Island county parks.

“The name “Maka-Oicu” is a French-Sioux word,” explained Jerry Braun, who has been Nobles County’s park director for 41 years. “It means ‘homestead.’”

Maka-Oicu County Park, which sits on approximately 46 acres of developed land on the northeast shore of West Graham Lake, provides many amenities for the average camper, including lake access for boating on the lake along with a swimming beach. Dock access on the lake provides options for both power and non-powering boating. 

Maka-Oicu also has a one-room cabin complete with four padded bunks, a table and small refrigerator. Campers also have access to electricity and running water supply. Other available conveniences include onsite showers, and a large picnic shelter perfect for reunions and gatherings.

Maka-Oicu’s campground features approximately 44 campsites, with 36 of them complete with electricity, and 8 of those sites without. 

Fury’s Island County Park sits on a smaller plot of land, with only about 10 developed acres. Amenities are also plentiful at Fury’s Island, however, with lake access to East Graham lake available along with showers, a large picnic shelter for gatherings and reunions and a playground for the young ones. 

Fury’s Island’s campground features 20 campsites with electric hook-ups, and 11 sites without the electricity.

Both campgrounds offer a little bit of history along with their pristine camping. 

“Both campgrounds have historic pieces,” Braun explained. “They’re old cabin sites from the settlers. It’s mostly just foundations and pieces level with the ground.” 

Braun added that camping is allowed at other parks in Nobles County, but basic amenities may not be present. 

“You can camp at the other parks in the county, but there are no designated sites to camp at,” he said. “There also aren’t bathrooms and other things like that, but there are boat landings and lake access for people who would want to use that.” 

Olson Park

The third campground in the county is located within Worthington’s city limits.

The Olson Park campground namesake is industrialist E.O. Olson, who in 1945 donated over 50 acres of land to the city of Worthington. The area was designated as park land, and the city dubbed it Olson Park in 1950. Expansions to the park have continued throughout the years, and now the park sits on nearly 58 acres of land.

Olson Park boasts a total of 68 campsites, with 63 having electrical outlet access. A clean, modern bathroom complete with showers and laundry tubs is available.

For non-tenting campers, there is a RV dumping station, along with a water hydrant. Charcoal grills and picnic tables along with fire pits are available throughout the campground.

Near the campground, there are also other activities. A nearby boat landing allows access to Lake Okabena, with a fishing dock in the park and the opportunity to fish from the shore of the lake.

On the south side of the park, a 9-hole disc (frisbee) golf course is available for all free of charge. A walking and biking trail, which completely circles Lake Okabena, is accessible in the park as well, along with a playground for children to enjoy. Firewood and ice are also for sale at the campground office.

Reservations for Olson Park are available by calling Barb Elsing at 329-0760.

For more information on parks in Nobles County, visit the county website at