State Park's cabins offer winter retreat
CURRIE -- While it may not be an ideal winter for people who love to spend their days ice fishing, building snow forts or snowshoeing, it still offers promising days to go for a hike, cozy up in a cabin with a good book or simply enjoy the serenity of a Minnesota State Park.
At Lake Shetek State Park north of Currie, manager Kerry Christoffer had hoped their four new camper cabins would be a popular winter-time destination -- but perhaps, he speculates, it just isn't "winter" enough outside.
Camper cabins are cropping up in state parks across Minnesota, and Lake Shetek State Park is the first in the southwest area of the state to offer them as part of their campground's rental options. The cabins were completed late last summer and were quite popular when they first debuted.
The set of four 12- by 16-foot rustic, one-room wooden cabins are complete with heat and electricity. Three of the cabins are handicap-accessible and have sleeping space for five, while the fourth cabin sleeps six. The lower bunk in each cabin sleeps two, and Christoffer said each bunk has a built-in LED light for reading. All guests need to do is bring their own bedding or sleeping bag and they are set for the night.
In addition to the wooden bunks and mattresses, the cabins are furnished with a table and benches. Each also features a screened-in porch.
"This winter you have access to everything," Christoffer said. "If you are a jogger, a runner or if you like to hike, what a fantastic winter to get out.
"It's not necessarily unusual for people to come with their book and we won't see them again (until check-out)," he added. "It's warm, you're not in a tent. It's a much more convenient way of camping for people who don't have a (camper) or camping gear."
Christoffer said the camper cabins are ideal for single parents or people who haven't had much experience camping.
"I've actually met people who've never camped a day in their life," he said, talking about one family that visited the park late last summer. "They were going to learn and teach their kids about the camping experience -- they stuck with it and they had a blast."
The obvious benefits to a weekend road trip to Lake Shetek State Park to reconnect with nature this winter are the absence of hot summer days, high humidity and tons of people -- a stark contrast to the park's peak popularity in the summer.
Lake Shetek State Park spans more than 1,100 acres on the east side of Lake Shetek in northern Murray County. Christoffer calls it a "park park," offering swimming and boating activities during the summer months, and hiking trails and historical features that can be enjoyed year-round.
"We have marshes and massive oak trees, and yet there is a modern group center that sleeps 80," he said.
Lake Shetek State Park was the second state park in the state to provide sewer, water and electric hook-ups to its camping guests.
Also notable about the park is the Koch Cabin, which is deemed the oldest building in Murray County.
There's also the lake, known for great walleye, northern and crappie fishing, and an abundance of wildlife -- including bird viewing opportunities.
During the summer and fall, visitors will find an array of wildflowers in bloom. The park also features a variety of trails for hiking, bicycling and snowmobiling.
The six-mile paved bicycle trail is adjacent to the new camper cabins, and Christoffer said they do have snowshoes available for rent this winter. Boat, canoe and kayak rentals are available during the spring, summer and fall.
The new camper cabins are clustered in the southern tip of Wolf Point, with close proximity to restroom and shower facilities and parking.
Each cabin has its own fire ring, with crock pots and coffee pots allowed for cooking indoors. Pets are not allowed in the cabins, and there is no air conditioning. Ceiling fans are built in, and floor fans are available to help guests keep cool during the summer months.
"One of the things the Division of Parks wants to do is cluster (the cabins) so families can rent them together," Christoffer said.
The new camper cabins at Lake Shetek State Park were constructed entirely from money collected through the state's Legacy Amendment -- the three-eighths of 1 percent tax approved in a vote of the people in 2008. The tax was implemented to help fund the arts, cultural heritage and waters and wetlands of Minnesota.
The cabins are available for rent by calling Lake Shetek State Park at (507) 763-3256. Beginning March 1, people can book a cabin online at www.mndnr.gov/state_parks/lake_shetek.
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