Big Bog State Recreation Area

In the area

From Explore MN Tourism

Park Info

Image of Big Bog State Park

Quick stats

9,121 acres
92,380 annual visits
9,614 overnight visits


This largely wilderness area is home to moose, white-tailed deer, black bear, gray wolves, fox, bobcat and other mammals. The bog also provides habitat for more than 300 species of birds. The great gray owl and Connecticut warbler are two species of particular interest that make their home in the Bog. A number of reptiles and amphibians also inhabit the patterned peatlands of the area, including the snapping turtle, gray treefrog, western painted turtle, spotted blood salamander and northern leopard frog.


Big Bog State Recreation Area was established as the result of a grassroots effort to create a sustainable tourist attraction in Waskish whose economy was devastated during the Upper Red Lake walleye population crash of the 1990s. Despite the tremendous northern pike and crappie fishing that remained on Upper Red Lake, many private resorts in Waskish Township closed due to decreased tourism. Commercial and sport fishing of walleye were suspended during the late part of the decade to allow the walleye population to recover. On May 13, 2006, walleye fishing reopened on Upper Red Lake.


The underlying bedrock of Big Bog State Recreation Area is Precambrian (Late Archean) in age, and includes gneiss, amphibolite, undifferentiated granite and metamorphosed mafic to intermediate volcanic and sedimentary rocks. Of particular interest is the sedimentary association of Big Bog's geologic history. The majority of the Northern Unit has a peat sediment association. Ludlow Island is composed of lacustrine sediment deposited from Glacial Lake Agassiz. The Southern Unit rests on lacustrine sediment from Glacial Lake Agassiz as well, and is characterized by beach ridges that have formed over time due to the geologic movement of Upper Red Lake to the west.


Plant communities that exist within the boundary of Big Bog State Recreation Area include open sphagnum bog, fen, boreal conifers, boreal hardwoods, conifer swamp forest and hardwood swamp forest. The boreal conifers in the southern unit include a stand of jack pine. Boreal hardwoods in the northern unit include trembling aspen. The stand also includes Balm of Gilead and dogwood shrubs. The conifer swamp forest areas in the northern unit include tamarack and black spruce. In the southern unit, the hardwood swamp forest includes back ash and ground cover of wet grasses and sedges plus a hazel shrub layer.