Canada Anemone

Thank you for visiting The Friends of Itasca website!

Itasca State Park is open year round, and each season is unique. Visit the park in the winter and you will experience the magic that comes with a quieter season. This year we don't have much snow, but the warmer weather makes it easier to head out on the trails. The Headwaters always has lovely atmosphere no matter the weather.

It's a Swing!!
The new Accessible Swing with a few of the Itasca board members

Like proud grandparents, Friends of Itasca board members were gathered around their first purchase for the Park’s Swimming Beach Playground - An Accessible Swing. Smiles and laughter await all who take a turn on it in the 2024 season. Heartfelt thanks to all who contributed to make this a reality.

In the meantime, we are continuing to move foward with our PLAYGROUND PROJECT! Itasca welcomes almost a half million visitors each year and we try to choose projects that will benefit the most visitors and fulfill the most immediate needs. Please consider donating to Itasca State Park. Your donation will go to something that benefits many Itasca visitors.

Live at the Headwaters!

Douglas Lodge Menu Cover

Restaurant and Gift Shop Hours

The Douglas Lodge Restaurant is open Thrusday-Sunday from 11:00 AM - 5:00 PM

At the Headwaters, the Mary Gibbs Gift Shop is open daily 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM, and the Cafe is open daily from 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM.

Forest Inn Gift Shop is open daily 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM.

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.

  • One factor was COVID, which prevented us from carrying out several of our annual fund raisers.
  • A second factor is the cost of steel has increased dramatically. Both of these have affected the amount of funds we needed to raise and the timeline.
  • Another factor related to timing, is a longer than expected DNR State review process required to ensure the desired aesthetics and preserve the historic nature of the site where the playground is to be replaced.

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 viaPayPal 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

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