Camping at Whitewater State Park During COVID-19



hammockI probably mentioned this before: we are from Canada. A year after moving here, we decided to buy an older used camper. We called it our 3-year trial, which meant we will give it go and then upgrade if we like the camper. To me, this was the perfect reason to go visit as many cool spots and states. Side note: my hubby was excited because this also meant we needed a pickup truck to tow it. What better way to integrate into the USA then by getting a cool pickup! I mean, before moving here, we only had one car, which is our Prius!

Each year, we try to camp at our favorite spot, Whitewater State Park, which is about a 45 minute drive from our NW Rochester home. It has nice hiking trails, crossing the Whitewater river in a few different spots, and good fishing (I’ve been told). It has a nice bird sanctuary, as well as no cell reception, so you really get the experience of being out in nature. Normally, they would have special events, like bird banding, or making a walking sticks with a buckthorn, an invasive species to the area. You can go morel mushroom foraging with a guide. All of this is included in the yearly State Park pass. This year, of course, there have been things cancelled due to COVID-19.

boy walking on bridge over water
Our son exploring the river paths

This year, we went camping June 26 to June 29. Because of COVID, we did not know what our camping experience would be like. However, we were pleased to find that had access to the facilities. The ranger station was closed, but park rangers could be seen occasionally.

We went for a great bike ride with our son and checked out the camping neighbors. There is a big section for campers, and for tents. Some of the sites don’t have much shade as the trees aren’t full size, but they have very nice spots for big or small campers and RV’s.

Hubby reading in one of our hammocks

My hubby couldn’t help himself, he HAD to go check out the beach area. We love how nice the beach is at Whitewater. We knew the beach was closed, but still wanted to check it out. After my son and I started to make the fire for cooking cheddar brats and smore’s to come, hubby rolled into our campsite with a sad face… They drained the water from the swimming hole! We had no idea they did that, plus it was a super-hot weekend. I told him we would figure it out, but I won’t lie, I had two sad faces and tried to keep my face from frowning too.

beach area
The beach area and swimming hole on a normal year

The next day, we went for a family walk, and hung the hammocks. There were no tadpoles to visit, and to my son there was not much point playing at the beach if you can’t make sandcastles, dig a giant hole, or take a quick dip when it gets too hot.

So, we used this opportunity to finally do something we have been meaning to do for years! We paid $30 for all three of us to go tubing down the Whitewater river at the nearby Lazy D Campground.

You get to pick a tube, and make sure you bring your own life jacket. They had some to loan, but I would recommend bringing your own. You get to ride down the Whitewater River not too far from the main office. We did one ride on Saturday as they closed at 4pm for the last ride. We went back the next day and enjoyed about 4 trips down the river in one day. And for one of them, we ran into a friend so that was extra special! I would highly recommend calling them before you go to see what hours they are open, as they seem to change each day.

Here is basic information from the site: 
RIVER TUBING (45-minutes to 1 hour) Leaves from campground. Shuttle service provided $10.00 (plus tax). All-day wristband 10:00 am – 5:00 pm. Personal tubes require additional pick up fee.

After a nice day of tubing, we got supper done just before the rain started. As we were getting ready for and early bedtime–let’s be honest, a whole day outside in the sun, and then rain to calm you down, makes the adults, not the kids sleepy– we tried quiet time and we were getting ready for bed as the Tornado Warning siren went off! What a way to energize you back into being awake! This was the first time in 4 years we got to live this experience! A tornado touched down about 15 miles to the west of our camp site. What an experience! At least now we now know we are kept safe!

If you want to know more about various camp site in the area, have a look at the guides below, and here are two articles that I enjoyed and learned a lot.

I would also recommend looking at a few other articles Rochester Mom has posted:

Rochester MN Guide to Nearby State Parks

4 Poisonous Plants Every Mom Should Know

“Be One with Nature,” They Said

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Born and raised in Canada, Lucy is relatively new to Rochester. Her and her husband Richy moved here in 2015 after he accepted a position at Mayo Clinic. They bought a now over 20-year-old camper, and have been exploring the USA on State at a time. This French Canadian speaks French at home or while camping, with her hubby and son Eliot. Sometime she speaks French/ English to her newly found friends. Lucy is a social butterfly. She will challenge you step out of your comfort zone and take on any and every event that is kid related or not in this city. They have been watching our city grow fast before their eyes, and enjoy navigating through the change. She loves to try new things because how else do you figure out if you like it, or are good at something if you don’t try? Engaging people is Lucy’s passion. She takes this on by baking, volunteering, and giving back to this community. Lucy was an office manager in Montreal and loves to organize and host events. She loves people. Having a husband that is Bi-Sci-Fi means the dogs in their lives are named after Star Wars or Star Trek, this includes the newest member of the family. Miss Nimoy is 100% American and a Golden Retriever, she is a great companion for their son Eliot. Eliot has an interesting middle name, when you meet Lucy ask her about it. Lucy has had three miscarriages and as painful as it is to talk about, it helps Lucy heal and feel closer to people who also experienced loss. We are never alone and Lucy makes an effort every day to connect with people and be a part of her community.