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HI - Mississippi Headwaters Hostel

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Description
Hostelz.com's Review
Location

Unfortunately, there is no public transportation to the park. Amtrak can take you as close as Detroit Lakes (56 miles) or Staples (72 miles). Greyhound bus service can take you as close as Park Rapids (22 miles), Bagley (33 miles), Bemidji (34 miles), or Walker (34 miles). From Park Rapids, take US Hwy 71 North past the first park entrance. Turn left on MN Hwy 210 and immediately left again into the park. If you don't have a State Park sticker for your vehicle you can pick one up at the park headquarters as you drive by. From the headquarters, take the main park drive north along the eastern arm of the lake for about 3.5 miles. The hostel is on the right and is well-marked.

Amenities

The hostel building once served as the old park headquarters, as evidenced by its wonderful log cabin construction. All rooms are kept very clean, and the kitchen has a special system for washing dishes that involves a 5 minute soak in diluted bleach solution before drying. Bedrooms house either 4 or 6 bunk-style beds, and all showers have community-style access from the hall. The common room is definitely the coziest spot in the hostel, a perfect place to curl up. A bike rack outside also doubles as a ski rack in the winter.

Atmosphere

Although there has been some recent turnover in the manager position at the hostel, the one constant has been the super-friendly attitudes of the managers. Patrons here are also very friendly, and most are active outdoors types who have come to explore the park's natural beauty.

Attractions

Itasca State Park might best be described as the "poor man's Yellowstone", but that's not really a fair comparison. Granted, there's no geologic activity, and the Tetons don't loom on the horizon across the lake, but both parks are home to much native flora and fauna and serve as headwaters for some important rivers that eventually meet downstream. The hostel itself is just a short walk from the Mississippi Headwaters (pictured), a great place to brag to your friends that you walked across the Mississippi! The park has a great network of hiking trails and interpretive trails surrounding the many other lakes and ponds that were deposited by the receding glaciers. And like Yellowstone, the park can also be seen rather well by car on the one-way road that encircles the lake and has many stops such as the tallest red and white pine trees in the state, and Nicollet Cabin (also pictured). But the solitude seeker will find that the park is best experienced in winter, when all the trails and some of the roads are groomed for XC skiing, the Deer Park Trail being the most interesting of them as it rises and dips between the scattered lakes and ponds. And the fireplace is much more worthwhile in the winter, too!

Price

This hostel is a very good value for an individual traveler, compared with motel and resort accommodations. The best part is that you don't feel you've sacrificed comforts to stay here, and you're smack in the middle of the park when you wake up!

Overall Value

Itasca is truly a gem of a State Park, and this hostel does it justice by being a gem of its own! What are you waiting for, the northwoods are calling!

Exclusive Hostelz.com Review
May 2008

Photos taken by the Hostelz.com reviewer — Genuine photos you can trust.
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Location/Contact
How is HI - Mississippi Headwaters Hostel rated on other websites?
 OverallCleanlinessStaffLocationAtmosphereSecurity
HI Hostels  
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Hostelworld  
Not listed on Hostelworld.
Hostels.com  
Not listed on Hostels.com.
HostelBookers  
Not listed on HostelBookers.
HostelsClub  
Not listed on HostelsClub.
Average  
97%
97%
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Hostelz.com Guest Reviews
5   Fantastic This place was fantastic. I was delighted by the lodging which was clean, welcoming, and spacious with several places to lounge outside of sleeping room, a large eating area, and a kitchen large enough for my group of 4 friends, and others including a family reunion, and 3 other people to prepare food with ease. We ALL loved this place and will be returning.  ()
5   This is a great lodging option in a favorite state park I've stayed at this hostel a couple times, albeit during the Tour de Pines weekend. We usually travel with a group, half of us staying here, half of us tenting it. In a scheduling error, they allowed us to pitch our tents on the hostel grounds -- not a normal thing, but very appreciative that they were so accommodating. The staff is kind and helpful, very safe and cozy location. The lodging is quite nice, clean and comfortable. The decor is up north cabin shabby chic, much nicer than many hostels. The grounds are beautiful, green, secluded with area for campfire, picnic, grilling. We usually bike here and it's one of the best organized bike rides I've attended. It's a great bargain for the money.  ()
2   My Stay was Excellent but Staff Treatment Terrible I stayed one time during the winter. It was great. They didn't seem that thrilled to have me call and gave me the feeling that I had really lucked out, that they weren't often available in the winter to take individuals for a night. But it was a great time, for those few hours. So I determined I would try and stay there for the 5 nights when my daughter went to camp. I was treated terribly. No one returned my calls, several times. Finally I got someone who told me she didn't start taking applications until April 1. I told her how excited I was about booking a stay from July 8 - 14, and that I usually could go nowhere as a single parent of a child with multiple disabilities and couldn't usually afford it anyway, but since I took her to camp near St. Cloud it wouldn't be all that bad to keep going on July 8 after I dropped her off and stay in the park at the hostel for 5 nights until I had to drive back and pick her up. I was very excited as I didn't usually get to take vacations, and was looking forward to it so much. She never responded that this might not be possible, just let me continue hoping and then on April 1 begin trying to contact her. I tried desperately for a week as she never returned my calls. I had to call the main office to find out that they didn't usually take individual reservations, only rented the whole hostel, and that maybe I could find 2 or 3 days in between which weren't rented if I was lucky. I felt I was treated very poorly. please note: you don't matter to this hostel unless you are a large group and don't expect to have them call you back. They should warn people on the webpage that individuals are only taken for a day or two in between the larger groups, and that they shouldn't expect to be communicated with as they don't contribute many $s to the hostel. It's only fair.  , USA ()
5   One of the Best in North America We stayed here in September and it exceeded our high expectations. It is in an old log building that has been completely updated inside. The kitchen is excellent and the bathrooms modern and spotless. The hostel is located in a real gem of a state park, featuring one of the most lovely mountain lakes I have ever seen. About three kilometers away, just outside the park, is a local bar/restaurant with considerable local color and good food. There were farmers wearing overalls drinking their evening beers along with day trippers who had visited the park.  , USA ()
5  This is one of the cleanest and most well maintained hostels I have ever been to. It is a hidden gem for cross-country skiers (one of the only places open near the headwaters in the winter). I would recommend this hostel to anyone.  ()
5  This is a great hostel in a wonderful spot. The building is excellent, the manager very helpful, the park setting is beautiful/peaceful, and the surrounding adventure opportunities are challenging. We had a great time here and met some great people.  ()

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