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Rice Lake State Park in Minnesota

by KenE

Trip Overview

Rice Lake State Park

Trip Type: Solo
Date: July 24th & 25th, 2004

Water Level: Average, though "average" is shallow. Rice Lake is not ideal for canoeing. It is surrounded by a cattail marsh and floating bog. Once past that you reach a zone of seaweed and scum. This stuff is like paddling in mud. Beyond that, the canoeing is acceptable, though the lake is shallow and seaweed is evident below the surface.

Weather: Beautiful! Daytime high- mid 70s. Night time low high 50s. Mostly clear skies. No rain. No mosquitoes to speak of, though there were more Daddy-Long-Leg spiders than I have ever seen; probably the explanation for few mosquitoes.

Campsite: A white buoy marks the entrances to the landings for the put-in/take-out and the canoe-in campsites. The campsite I stayed in was nice. Mature oak trees provided a canopy for the site and tie points for my tarp. The floor was grassy and though I didn't have direct access to the lake, I did have a splendid view. The first two campsites are not laid out well. There is one landing spot for all 5 sites. It is at Campsite #1. Also by Campsite #1 is the one latrine. To get to the other Campsites you must walk through the first campsite. Likewise, Campsite #2 must be walked through to reach the others and it is in direct visual line with Campsite #1. Potentially, a lot of traffic goes right through these two sites. The other three sites are off spur trails from the main trail. Distance and woods act as a noise and visual barrier between these sites. In other words, if you decide to stay here, select sites 3, 4, or 5. I was in #3.

Fauna: The big attraction is the birds. I saw great blue herons, green herons, ducks, geese, and pelicans. It seemed as though there were two great blue herons every 50 yards of shoreline. Also, there were no less than 2-dozen pelicans split between swimming on, and flying over, the water.

Additional Info and thoughts: The scenery along the shoreline is flat. There are some woods, mainly the state owned land. There is also some private land along the shoreline, so at least one house and one farm are visible.

I was mildly surprised that I had no nighttime, raccoon visitors. I have found that they can be a nuisance in State parks. Not here though.

Cabela's in Owatonna, MN is perhaps 15 miles away. There is both a Cabela's Retail Store and an Outlet Mall. I made a side trip there (via car), going to the outlet mall first. I got great deals on several outdoor/camping items.

This was a shakeout trip of sorts for an upcoming BWCA trip. I wanted to check some equipment that hadn't been used yet this season. I'm glad I did. I replaced the generator on my Coleman single burner stove. Also, as I was taking my Eureka Timberline down, one of the shock cords in the pole set decided to give out. I replaced that as well. I'm glad I got it done in advance of the trip.

Rice Lake is a great place for an easy trip to test out gear...and to make a shopping trip to Cabela's to buy more!


Rice Lake State Park is about 9 miles east of Owatonna, MN. It has 5 canoe sites, 42 drive-in sites, and 5 miles of hiking trails. Picnic Shelter; Playground. For more info on Rice Lake go to


Old Town Penobscott 15 - solo


Vehicle Permits -- $25/year or $7/day
Canoe site -- $7/night
Modern Site -- $15/night
Campsite reservation fee -- $8.50

I already had a State Park vehicle sticker and did not bother making a reservation, so my cost was $7 for one night.


From Rochester, MN take hwy 14 west 27 miles; turn RIGHT on 120th ave for 3.5 miles; turn LEFT on 585th St. for 2 miles; turn onto Rose St. for 1 mile.


The only map needed is available at the Rangers' Station at the Park entrance, or online at
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Water Type: Flat/Sheltered Water
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip