Okontoe Family Campground on the Gunflint Trail

Okontoe Family Campground offers 32 beautiful and spacious campsites in northern Minnesota, just 4.5 hours from the Twin Cities. 

An Okontoe lakeside tent site, with tent and tarp set up
Several of our campsites are lakeside or lakeview (photo courtesy of Sharon Brodin)

From Grand Marais, follow the historic Gunflint Trail (County Road 12) 28 miles to our campground entrance.

Okontoe is known for its lovely setting, quiet atmosphere and friendly folks.

It’s a wonderful place for families of all sizes. Also for singles, couples, friend groups, church groups, youth groups—pretty much everyone who loves the woods, the water and immersion in nature that’s off the beaten path!

Our campground is also ideal for prayer retreats, either solo or for a small group. Many of our campsites are tucked away in the trees for privacy.

We’re surrounded by Superior National Forest and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, and have a small private, non-motorized lake on our 80-acre property with direct access to two other small lakes.

About Our Campsites

If you’re used to being in private campgrounds that have you back-to-back with your camping neighbors, your stay here will be a refreshing change! The campsites here at Okontoe provide plenty of elbow room and a fair bit of privacy, depending on your site. 

An Okontoe campsite picnic table and fire ring/grate, surrounded by trees
Okontoe has many spacious and private campsites to choose from (photo courtesy of Sharon Brodin)

Here are the amenities included in your campground stay with us:

  • Many of our sites are lakeside while others offer a fine view of either Bow Lake or Quiver Lake. 
  • Every campsite has a picnic table, fire ring with fire grates, access to potable water via a spigot, and easy access to vault toilets.
  • About half of our sites include electric hookups making them suitable RV sites, with small to mid-size RVs being ideal. We have two pull-through sites that can accommodate large RVs.
  • On-site dump station.
  • We have many wonderful tent sites. All of them are on level ground, many on grass.
  • We offer three Group Campsites for 7-12 people. (Our regular camp sites are for up to 6 people or one family unit.)
  • Hot showers are available at our Shower House in the center of camp. There are two showers in the Gals side and two in the Guys side, both with two sinks and mirrors, and cold and hot water.
  • Small swimming beach on Bow Lake (no lifeguard on duty).
  • Free use of our canoes, paddles and life jackets during your stay (their use is restricted to our three lakes—Bow, Quiver and Shoko). You can rent our recreational kayaks hourly for a very nominal fee.
  • Our no-alcohol policy helps ensure a family-friendly atmosphere.
  • Quiet hours from 10 pm to 8 am daily.

See a map of our Campground

Other Details about Our Campground

Our Camping Season & 2024 Rates

Our campground is open from Memorial Weekend through MEA (usually the 3rd weekend of October) every year. Peak season for us is after the worst of the “bug season” (which is in June) and into mid-late September.

small RV at a lakeside Okontoe campsite
We have several lakeside campsites for small RVs or tents (photo courtesy of Sharon Brodin)

NOTE: We usually turn the water in the campground off (including the Shower House) around the 3rd week of September to prevent our water lines from freezing. 

  • Daily campsite fee for one nuclear family or up to 6 people: $35/non-electric site or $40 electric site
  • Group campsites for groups of 7-12 people (non-nuclear family): $35/night for the first 7 people, plus $5/night for each additional person (more below).
  • We ask for full payment at the time of your reservation. 30% of that is a non-refundable deposit (see our Cancellation Policy here).
  • Firewood is available for purchase at the Wood Shed on the north end of camp (behind the Library/Office). It’s unlawful to bring firewood from outside Cook County (this is a Minnesota DNR regulation to keep unwanted pests out of our area).
  • Non-camper showers: $5/person
two boys swimming with a pool noodle in Bow Lake at Okontoe
Enjoying Bow Lake on a hot summer day (photo courtesy of Sharon Brodin)

Cell Service & Wi-Fi

There’s no cell service on our section of the Gunflint Trail. But we offer limited Wi-Fi at our camp Library/Office so you can check in at home, see the weather forecast or do other quick online tasks. Enjoy your media fast! Most of our guests love being “off-grid” during their stay.

Bow, Quiver and Shoko Lakes

Bow Lake is the lake you see in camp. It’s a perfect Northwoods lake for swimming, fishing, paddling, watching the sunsets and simply enjoying. Then you can access Quiver Lake via a short portage mid-camp, and from there another short portage into Shoko Lake, further east. They’re surrounded by US Forest Service land.

These lakes offer great fishing (perch, smallmouth bass, walleye and northern pike) and paddling. There’s even a Boundary Waters-style campsite on Shoko Lake if you’d like to paddle down for a picnic lunch.

Take advantage of the swimming beach on Bow Lake on hot summer days.

Well-Behaved Dogs are Welcome

  • Please keep them leashed or under your direct control at all times.
  • Pick up after them before leaving for home.
  • Don’t leave them unattended in your campsite.
  • If your dog barks excessively or is bothering other campers, you may be asked to leave out of respect for our other guests.
  • Our property is surrounded by thousands of acres of boreal forest wilderness that’s home to many predators like bears, moose, bald eagles, fox and wolves. Be sure you keep track of your dog(s), especially little ones!
young woman and her dog on a paddle board on Bow Lake at Okontoe
Okontoe is dog heaven! (photo courtesy of Sam Mayes)

Group Camping

We have three large Group Campsites at Okontoe for groups of 7-12 people. These are perfect for non-nuclear family groups and groups of individuals.

Two of these Group Sites are along the campground road in mid-camp. They’re a short walk from the Shower House with just a bit of a longer hike to the swimming beach and canoe launch area.

The third Group Site is on the south end of Bow Lake with gorgeous sunset views. It’s further from the Shower House, beach and canoe launch—but you can launch canoes and kayaks right from your site.

Church small groups, prayer retreats and small youth groups will find us to be an ideal setting for a weekend or even week-long campout.

​Sunday Chapel & Saturday Night Community Campfires

As a Christian community and Retreat Center at heart, Okontoe has a long tradition of meaningful Sunday morning services in our beautiful hand-built Chapel. We invite all our guests to participate, starting at 10 am throughout the camping season. Guitar-led worship, a teaching and warm fellowship are the standard, along with coffee, tea and hot chocolate.

Also during the camping season, we invite our guests to our Saturday Night Community Campfires at our fire ring on the north end of camp. Roast marshmallows, make s’mores and enjoy chatting with fellow campers and Okontoe staff. Please bring bug spray and your own camp chairs!

people gathered around a fire circle, a couple guys playing guitar, lake in the background
Saturday evening Community Campfire (photo courtesy of Sharon Brodin)

Fall Camping at Okontoe

There are so many reasons to tent camp in the fall in our area! First, of course, are the gorgeous fall colors. Second, most or all of the biting bugs are gone or greatly diminished (depending on how cold our nights have been). Third, you can do pretty much everything in the fall that you can do in the summer, except maybe swim (depending on how cold our nights have been!).

You’ll want to have very warm sleeping bags and a good pad under them—we can get frost as early as mid-August. Often, though, our nights are refreshingly cool while our days are still warm. 

As we mentioned above, we typically turn the campground water off (including in the Shower House) around the third week of September to prevent our lines from freezing. If that’s the case, you can bring a 5-gallon beverage cooler with you and we can supply you with potable water for your stay.

two women at an Okontoe campsite with a popup camper in the fall
Fall camping means great color and no bugs! (photo courtesy of Sharon Brodin)

Recreational Opportunities in Our Area

Being mid-way up the Gunflint Trail puts us in a perfect place for our guests to take advantage of what Cook County has to offer. Here are some favorites with our staff and guests:

  • There are several Boundary Waters access points near us. While our canoes need to stay in camp, we can refer you to any one of the canoe outfitters nearby for canoe rentals for a day canoe trip. Or use Okontoe as your base for the start and end of your multi-day canoe trip with a Gunflint Trail entry point permit.
  • Do you like to hike? Some of the best hiking on the Gunflint Trail is nearby.
  • Drive down toward the end of the Gunflint Trail for a sand swimming beach on Seagull Lake, the Chikwauk Museum, great hiking and views of the Canadian shore.
  • Drive into downtown Grand Marais for some fun shopping and time along Lake Superior’s North Shore, especially Artists Point.
  • Several of the North Shore state parks make an easy half-day or day trip from Okontoe including Cascade River State Park, Temperance River State Park, Judge C.R. Magney State Park and Grand Portage State Park.
  • Access Superior Hiking Trail trailheads within an hour’s drive of Okontoe.

See our Local Attractions & Activities page for more details.

Are You a Current or Retired Minister or Missionary? 

We want to bless you! Please email us at info@okontoe.org for information on getting a reduced rate for one of our Retreat Cabins or campsites.

man fishing off a dock
Fishing on Bow Lake (photo courtesy of Bridget Barr)

We Offer Seasonal Lease Campsites, Too

We love that we have so many return guests!

If you’re one of them and would love to be able to spend more time at Okontoe throughout the camping season, check out our Seasonal Lease Campsites.

We are a Christian non-profit ministry with a campground and Retreat Cabins. We welcome all who respect our values. Our property is alcohol-free and family-friendly. Quiet hours are 10:00 pm – 8:00 am.