The Friends of Itasca The trickle of the Mighty Mississippi flowing out of Itasca State Park

Thank you visiting The Friends of Itasca website! Warmer weather is here. The playground is one of the most popular spots in the park. Help us move foward with a donation for our PLAYGROUND PROJECT!

Itasca welcomes almost a half million visitors each year, and visitorship is on the rise. Supporting Itasca State Park is worthwhile and longlasting! We try to choose projects that will benefit the most visitors and fulfill the most immediate needs. Please consider donating to Itasca State Park. Give in in honor of your family member or friend.

Don't miss our first Ice Cream Social! It is scheduled for May 28, 2023 at Forest Inn beginning at 6:30. Bill and Mary Kaiser will be performing at 7:00 and ice cream sundaes will be available for $3.00.

Day 182 - CY365 - Refreshing (14579044203)

2023 Restaurant and Cafe Hours!

For the first few days Mary Gibbs will be open only until 5 PM. Check back for updates.

Summer hours, beginning May 27, 2023, Douglas Lodge Restaurant will be open Thursday - Sunday 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and Mary Gibbs Cafe will be open every day 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM (At first only until 5 PM because staff is in training).

Friends Group Renewal Notice

It’s that time of year again! Your Friends Group plays a crucial role in the stewardship of Minnesota’s parks and trails, and we hope you will renew your membership with Parks and Trails Council for 2023. You may download the Contact Form and return it by mail.  

Project Update

The Friends of Itasca board members would like to provide an update on our Playground Project at Itasca State Park. Our goal is to upgrade or replace worn out playground equipment to ensure a safe and fun play experience and focus on accessibility for all abilities. Our original timeline was to install the new playground equipment in 2022. Several factors have contributed to delays that have pushed the deadline for installation to 2023.

We are so grateful to all of our donors for supporting this worthwhile project that will provide hours of enjoyment to all the families and school children who visit each year. Last year there were close to half a million domestic and international visitors. You are truly making a difference in the lives of all these visitors! And, as mentioned above, the project will be ongoing for another year, so we would welcome any additional contributions. We are excited to bring this project to fruition. Your financial support and patience are very much appreciated! If you wish to make a further contribution you may do so by:

• Sending a check to the Friends to: The Friends of Itasca, 36750 Main Park Drive, Park Rapids, MN 56470
• Donate at
• Contribute to our playground endowment fund at the Northwest Minnesota Foundation by going to and searching for the Friends of Itasca State Park Fund. When making a donation here, please indicate in the comments that the donation is for the playground equipment.
All donations are tax deductible.

Links to our Donation Options

GiveMN, the Northwest Minnesota Foundation or donate via PayPal In the menu bar, tap GiveMN. It’s as simple as that. Make sure to direct your donation for the playground and type   "For playground equipment" in the Additional Information Box. GiveMN or donate via PayPal. You may scan the qr code and it will take you to PayPal.qr code for PayPal donation

Check out the Headwaters Livestream

Visit the MN DNR Events Calendar. You can find programming and special events at Itasca and other MN State Parks