Hayes Lake State Park is an iconic Minnesota retreat. Its pine forests, sky blue waters, and solitude is so reflective of the state known for its 10,000 lakes. Hayes Lake State Park is located on the western perimeter of vast, sparsely populated wildlands within Beltrami Island State Forest. Hayes Lake State Park offers visitors recreation and access to hundreds of square miles of untamed land. This man made lake meets the forest edge for spectacular shoreline views. It’s a great place to come explore Minnesota during any season.
Whether you are coming for a day, pitching a tent in the wilderness or parking your RV at the campground you can expect an immersive experience! Hayes Lake State Park lets you vacation your way.
A typical visit to the park is filled with nature, local wildlife, and memory-making moments. During the day, visitors enjoy beautiful views of Hayes Lake and have plenty of opportunities for fishing, birding, time on the water or exploring the original homesteads in the area. They can hike the trails, enjoy the water gushing over the dam, and bike. Spending nights outdoors allows you to view constellations, hear the yip of coyotes, or the trills of songbirds. Hayes Lake State Park has much to offer during your adventure with nature in Roseau, MN. Let’s explore this destination more.
Your first stop at this state park will be at the park office. Here, visitors to Hayes Lake State Park can purchase a vehicle permit, register for camping, or ask the park ranger questions about the local area. Be sure to pick up a map because this park has great little nooks and crannies that you need to explore.
You don’t need a boat to fish Hayes Lake. An accessible wooden fishing pier provides anglers with the perfect spot to try their luck at catching northern pike, crappie, and sunfish. The low banks allow you to stand on the shores if you prefer bank fishing. Be sure to ask the locals fishing for their advice on what the fish are biting on. You can meet a new fishing buddy and their experience on the lake will help you take home a fresh catch.
A boat ramp and wooden dock provide access to Hayes Lake for a day of fishing or sightseeing. Only electric motors are allowed on the lake so visitors can enjoy the scenery and solitude without interruption. Sometimes a loon or a turtle will swim up to your boat for a closer view of its guests on the water.
Enjoy an afternoon with family or friends at this sandy beach along Hayes Lake. The sandy beach is the perfect spot to build sandcastles, launch kayaks, or let the littles splash around. Take a dip in the water at dusk to watch an amazing sunset. The swim area is a great place to launch a paddleboard. The beach area is protected by little bays and the water is almost always smooth and clear like glass. You will see and hear every ripple as your stroke or paddle hits the water. Plan to make a day of it and pack a lunch. Picnic spots are located throughout the park with grills and tables scattered around the grassy open space.
This screened-in picnic shelter near the beach is a wonderful place for group get-togethers. The shelter has electricity and can be reserved by contacting the park office. A grassy, open area with picnic tables, fire rings, and swings for the kids provides a great spot to spend the afternoon. It is a great place to get out of the sun and take a break before exploring all the park has to offer.
This beautiful overlook on Grefthen Bay is located near the park’s campground. A wooden deck allows one to carefully overlook the bay. The water is calm, allowing the clouds and pines to reflect like an artist’s painting. If you are looking for a quiet retreat to Zen out, this is the place. Guests often find this a perfect place to do yoga, meditate or chill with a great read. If you want to be one with nature, consider Grefthen Bay.
Step onto a wooden boardwalk that threads through the park’s bog and you may be lucky enough to spot plants such as sundew, pitcher plant, and lady’s slippers. This unique area was created when Glacial Lake Agassiz retreated, leaving behind a large, flat landscape. Drainage in these areas was very poor, but the water table remained high. As a result, hundreds of square miles of land, from the park eastward, developed into muskeg and bog communities. To help you identify the unique characteristics of the area, interpretive panels line the boardwalk. Moss and flowers grow dense on the bog wetlands. It’s like being transported into a fairy forest when the tree leaves canopy the trails, and the mossy greens light up the walkway.
Bemis Hill is a favorite staycation for Roseau County locals, but they are always willing to share this gem. Locals and visitors alike enjoy ATV and horseback rides in the forest. In winter, the campground offers an excellent sledding hill, a shelter, and access to snowmobile trails. The fall leaves are breathtaking from the landing. No matter the season, the Bemis overlook is a fun photo opportunity where you can see miles of treetops. Make it a destination to visit during every season.
Bemis Hill Campground is located within the Beltrami Island State Forest and is managed by Hayes Lake State Park. The campground offers two campsites and four-horse campsites, all of which are primitive. Drinking water and vault toilets are available seasonally. Evening bonfires and campfire friends make the nights at the campground a summer highlight.
Hayes Lake officially became a state park in 1967. Both the lake and the park were named in honor of A. F. Hayes, an early settler of the land now included in the park. This land is rich in history. As you drive around the Beltrami Forest, you will see the original family name marking their homesteads.
In the early 1900s, the first homestead was established in what is now the western portion of the park. The family graves of this first homesteader, Alva Hendershot, can be found along the trail starting to the northwest of the dam. Farther down the trail, past the gravesites, the remains of the original homestead and farm can be seen. This is one of the many historical sites located in the park.
Looking for a spot to call home for your Northwoods getaway? Local lodging options let you decide the level of connection with nature. Some guests want to visit the park for a day and travel back to town for a soft hotel bed and a night dining at a local restaurant.
Others may decide to stay awhile at a park cabin, campsite, or walk-in campsite. Wherever you decide to stay, the activities are the same -memory makers.
Campgrounds and Cabins
At Hayes Lake, you can choose from 35 campsites (18 of which are electric) within the park’s campground. Tall trees provide dappled shade over the picnic table and fire ring found in each site. A centrally located shower/restroom building is available to campers seasonally. The campground has many activities that you can take part in. Visit the bog, go geocaching or trailer your ATV to the trails and enjoy nature!
Want to experience a simpler life in the forest? Rent the Camper or Timberline cabins at Hayes Lake State Park. These cabins sleep five or six. A gas fireplace creates a cozy atmosphere, even on chilly northern mornings. A bathroom and
shower building is located nearby. A picnic table and fire ring provide the perfect spot to enjoy an evening campfire and listen to the call of the wild.
The Camper Cabin is all about privacy. A short path leads you right down to the water and the cabin’s own private fishing hole! Campers using this cabin often dock their canoe or boat along the shore during their stay. Try your luck at fishing during the day and view the northern stars at the dark. There is a reason Roseau is known as the North Star City.
Hayes Lake State Park is a spectacular work of nature. Come enjoy the beautiful views of one of Minnesota’s northern most state parks. Some days it will be just you, loons, and moose traversing around the lake. Come connect with nature, connect with family and friends, explore your wild side or just curl up with a book along the shore. At Hayes Lake, you vacation your way.