Find Sites

Find your spot

Find other facilities on map


part ofMississippi River Headwaters - Sandy Lake, US Army Corps of Engineers
Status: Open through Sat Oct 31 2015   Season Dates


The Sandy Lake Recreation Area is situated at the outlet of Big Sandy Lake in northern Minnesota, 13 miles north of McGregor, MN. The park is noted for its fishing, boating and picnicking on both the lake and nearby Mississippi River. It is the only public campground and beach on Big Sandy Lake.

The site is a part of the historic canoe route that connected the Mississippi River to Lake Superior and major fur trading companies. Artifacts from the area are kept in a small museum located near the dam.

Natural Features:

Big Sandy Lake is a reservoir that was created in the late nineteenth century from the waters of the Sandy River.

A forest of mixed hardwoods and towering red and white pine covers the area. An abundance of wildlife can be found including bald eagles, white-tail deer, black bears, chipmunks, loons, mink, river otters and many others.

Wild rice is harvested from the lake seasonally and wild berries are occasionally found around the area.


Sandy Lake offers many recreational opportunities including camping, boating, swimming, picnicking, birding and hiking. Anglers enjoy fishing the lake and river for Northern pike, walleye, Rock bass, bluegill and crappie.

The original wood dam was built in 1895 and included a lock that allowed steam boats to travel through to the Mississippi River. The original wood structure was replaced with concrete in 1912 and the lock was last cycled in 1956.

Today, the lock house has been converted into a small museum containing historical artifacts of the area. Educational programs are also offered seasonally and are open to the public free of charge.


This campground offers a variety of sites for all kinds of campers, including 43 single family sites, five double family sites and two group sites all with electric hookups. Eight primitive walk-to tent sites (four of which have electrical hookups), a camper cabin with bunk beds and a day-use group picnic shelter are also available.

Amenities include flush and vault restrooms, showers, drinking water, laundry facilities and a dump station. Also within the site are two lake boat ramps, one river boat ramp, docks, a fishing pier, beach, playgrounds and a hiking trail.

Nearby Attractions:

Nearby attractions include golf courses, shopping and dining venues, Savannah Portage State Park, Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge, and many acres of state and county forest land.

Activities and Amenities

Within Facility
  • Accessible Flush Toilets
  • Accessible Playground
  • Badminton
  • Basketball Courts
  • Beach
  • Boat Ramp
  • Drinking Water
  • Dump Station
  • Educational Programs
  • Firewood
  • Fish Cleaning Stations
  • Fishing
  • Fishing Pier
  • Hiking
  • Horseshoe Pit
  • Interpretive Trails
  • Laundry Facilities
  • Museum
  • Parking Area
  • Pay Phone
  • Picnic Area
  • Picnic Shelters
  • Playground
  • Ranger Station
  • Recycling
  • Showers
  • Swimming
  • Vault Toilets
  • Visitor Center
  • Volleyball Courts
  • Wildlife Viewing
Know Before You Go
Firewood restrictions are in effect to prevent the spread of forest insects and disease. Only firewood certified or approved by a state or federal natural resource agency is permitted. Firewood is available for purchase in the campground. Call (218) 426-3482 or email Sandy.Lake@usace.army.mil for more information.

Getting There:

GPS Info. (Latitude, Longitude):
46.78833, -93.32833
46°47'18"N, 93°19'42"W

Take Highway 65 for 13 miles north of McGregor, Minnesota. Follow “South Entrance” signs to the campground.

Contact Information:

Mailing Address:

22205 531ST LANE

Phone Number:

Information:  (218)426-3482
Discover and reserve camping, lodging, permits, tours and more at America's parks, forests, monuments and other public lands with Recreation.gov. Learn more about us, or about any of our agency partners below:
Bureau of Land Management Federal Highway Administration National Oceanic Atmosphere Administration Smithsonian Institution USDA Forest Service US Army Corps of Engineers US Fish and Wildlife Service National Park Service Bureau of Engraving and Printing Tennessee Valley Authority Bureau of Reclamation National Archives Records Administration