Ok, our weekend really wasn’t that wild, but it was an absolutely fantastic weekend. This past weekend found us staying at two campsites, hanging out with my sister, my kid’s cousin (Ava) spending the weekend with us, ticks, dragons flies, sand bars, long hikes, busted mini golf, a camper grave yard, some spoooooky stories and Mr. Raccoon coming to see if we had any food to share. It was fun!
We started the weekend with a planned stay at Kozy Oaks campground in North Branch, MN (about 1 hour from Minneapolis). We got the trailer all packed and made it to Kozy Oaks about 3 pm on Friday. First impressions as Kozy Oaks had a bit to be desired. The owners were really nice, but the campsite was not to inviting. If you want to read more about our thoughts on Kozy Oaks, you can read our full review right here, if you just want my quick opinion, I’d give it a 3/10.
Kozy Oaks is right on a little lake and the dragon flies were crazy. My 3 and 6 year old girls got some good practice of their lungs whenever one would come to close. Turns our my 13 year old son has about the same lung capacity when a dragon fly is by him too. Around 4 my daughters best friend (and cousin) Ava made it to our Campsite with her mom to hang out for the night.
There wasn’t too much to do at Kozy Oaks. They did have an old arcade that the kids all played at for an hour as well as some mini golf, but it was a bit of a stretch to actually call it mini golf. Other than that there wasn’t any good water access, the pool was broke, the lake felt more like a swamp and the basketball hoop was in a pasture.
The bright spot about Kozy Oaks was that our actual campsite was big and open for the kids to run around.
Night one was pretty uneventful, we cooked a good meal, I got sleepy and we all went to bed rather early.
On Saturday Kelly and I were getting a little bit of work done on the computers while the big kids babysat when Kelly said to me “there is really nothing more to do at Kozy Oaks besides sit around, want to see if the State Park has any openings?”. I was all game and luckily enough Wild River State Park had 7 openings left for a camper, but they were all first come first serve. We made the 10 minute drive from McDonalds back to Kozy Oaks and packed up the truck and camper all in 30 minutes, that has to be some kind of record.
We got to Wild River around 2 pm on Saturday and everyone was so happy that we made the decision to move. Wild River is awesome! The campsites are almost completely isolated from one another, the forest is thick and there are trails all along the St. Croix River. It was absolutely beautiful.
After setting up the camper and camp site for the second time in a weekend we decided to do a big hike. We found a trail by our campsite that led us to the banks of the St. Croix. Turns out this trail was completely flooded and muddy, we tried to trek it anyway but soon gave up and moved to the new temporary trail 50 feet back from the river.
After what felt like 10 miles (actually 1.1) we found an amazing sand bar that we were able to take all of the kids onto and spend a half hour playing in some extra fine sand. Since the river was moving quick we only allowed the kids to go near the water one at a time with either their mom or me while the rest stayed back 20 feet.
After the 30 mile hike back (1.1 miles) everyone was tired and hungry so we let the kids hang out in the camper while we started some brats and hot dogs on the fire.
Saturday night was really fun as the whole family stayed up late and played “Truth, Dare, Double Dare, Promise or Repeat” around the fire. This was probably everyone’s highlight of the weekend as we laughed and had just a great time. Ava got Mikaela with a doozy when Mikaela chose “Dare” and Ava dared her to eat a tree. Mikaela couldn’t and thus lost… We also had a great time as Kelly and I shared stories about when each of the kids were younger, they all love stories about themselves and funny/embarrassing things they did.
After and hour or two of this, all of the 6 and under crowd went to bed and Kelly, Keegan, Mikaela and myself stayed up another couple hours and had some of those crazy idiotic good times where we laughed, made fun and told some spooooky stories. It was during this time that Mr. Raccoon decided to see if we had any snacks that he could have a nibble. The coon popped out from under the camper about 4 feet behind Kelly. The first time we heard a noise Mikaela insisted it was a cat (maybe a wild forest cat?!) but the second time Kelly saw the coon and SCREAMED as she jumped on top of the picnic table. Kelly and the kids stayed up there as I took a look around to make sure their lives were no longer in danger as the coon ran off.
During the night Mr. Coon made another visit to see if we were dirty campers, thankfully I don’t think he found much more than some sunflower seeds and some crumbs from Isaiah eating chips.
We are just about to pack up and head home now on Sunday morning. It is currently raining and the kids are all talking, laughing and having a good time as we wrap up our weekend.
It was fun, wild, scary, ticky and even a bit Kozy. It was a great weekend.
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Hey there, I’m Ryan, the face behind Beyond The Tent.
With decades of camping experiences, my journey into the wilderness began on the rustic trails of a farm in southern Minnesota, where my childhood was filled with explorations and camping by a picturesque river.
My family’s adventures across the United States, from the majestic Colorado mountains to the serene national parks and the pristine Boundary Waters Canoe Area of Northern Minnesota have given me a broad perspective. With each journey, whether in state parks or private encampments, and through the homely comfort of our camping trailers, we’ve amassed a trove of stories, experiences, and invaluable camping wisdom.