What are the pros and cons of various locations for a campground in the Northfield area?

According to Camper Van Finder, the consideration of a Northfield area campground (RV park and tent camping) is now on the radar of the Parks & Rec Advisory Board (PRAB), the Northfield Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) and soon the Northfield Economic Development Authority (EDA). (See the comment thread attached to the July 3rd blog post, Why doesn’t Northfield have a campground?)

So we can now start brainstorming possible locations and what the pros and cons might be of each.  If the City creates a Campground Ad Hoc Task Force, the discussion here might be helpful to them.

For example, Sechler Park:

Sechler Park open space Sechlar Park open space Sechler Park aerial view
Sechler Park was one of the sites mentioned at last week’s PRAB meeting.  I took the above two panoramic photos of the open space at the southern edge of the park, between the two ball fields and near the picnic shelter and playground.  (See the aerial view image on the right, taken from page 5 of this Park Master Plan Appendix (PDF).

Advantages for tent camping:

  • Flat grassy area
  • Parking lot
  • Water and bathrooms at the picnic shelter
  • Adjacent to the Cannon River
  • Adjacent to Mill Towns Trail
  • Close to downtown
  • Gates to the park would allow it to be restricted during off-season, high water, etc.
  • Little needed for infrastructure improvements
  • Other advantages?

Disadvantages for tent camping:

  • Noisy railroad yard nearby
  • Seasonal flooding
  • Other disadvantages?

Attach a comment if you can think of other pros and cons for tent camping at Sechler.  Would the site also work for RV camping?

Got another site you think suitable for tent camping and/or an RV park? Suggest it!


  1. Quite honestly, I think the whole area of the “Rodeo Grounds” between Culvers and the Bridge is a huge eyesore, and that whole area could be nicely re-done to accommodate camping and RV’s. It has nice proximity to trails and downtown.

    I think that so much could be done there to make it multi-use. You could still have a dog park, an area to park RV’s, and a place for backpackers or tent campers to set up. It could be really nice with some additional grass and some hookups.

    July 27, 2011
  2. John,

    Putting my DJJD board member hat aside. I agree with you that the rodeo grounds area could be re-done. However, I do not think having campground there is a good idea. Mainly because you will have constant traffic noise. I think the PRAB and the DJJD Committee could work together on sprucing up the rodeo site to make it look better and more of a multi-use space.

    Also, I do not think having RVs and tents there is very attractive looking. You would have to plant a dense tree line to hide them.

    July 27, 2011
  3. Beth Kallestad said:

    Camping somewhere near the Cannon would be nice – Sechler seems a logical choice. Just be sure to keep back and respect the shoreline zoning and vegetation. Also make sure the wastewater is taken care of. Limit the size to keep it from becoming an eyesore. I checked with the DNR and it does not seem there are any prohibitions in the Wild & Scenic River Rules that would preclude camping. We’d love to see some canoe rental as well. For that downstream of the dam is probably better. Maybe at the Crossing…….

    July 27, 2011
  4. Griff Wigley said:

    Barry Cipra alerted me to a typo that I think I’ve run into before.

    I got “Sechlar” from the City’s page at:

    and the listing of file names at:

    But page 5 of the “Sechlar” plan spells it “Sechler”:

    as does the “Sechlar” outdoor sign photo:

    so I’ll assume “Sechler” is correct. Typo fixed!

    July 27, 2011
  5. Barry Cipra said:

    Griff, that’s a nice sampling of the city’s misspellings. I wonder, does anyone know who Sechler was? (Same for Babcock, etc.) You’d think the city would somewhere have an official history of its parks and the people who donated the lands.

    July 27, 2011
  6. Griff Wigley said:

    Beth, have you heard anything lately about the removal of the Ames Mill dam? I know money was an issue but it seems like it would be a candidate for a Legacy grant to get it done. Then all sorts of recreational possibilities would surface, including camping, canoeing, kayak park, etc.

    July 28, 2011
  7. Griff Wigley said:

    Great suggestion, Barry. There’s much to be improved with the Parks section of the City’s website.

    July 28, 2011
  8. Griff Wigley said:

    Hayes, I don’t think having a portion of a municipal park like Babcock full of RV’s and tents would be so unattractive. The two in the heart of Lanesboro don’t seem to detract at all, but rather, add vibrancy.

    And highway noise is probably not a big issue for RV’s who’ll be parking there for the convenience, not so much for the spectacular scenery/outdoor experience.

    I like the idea of RV’s at Babcock and tents at the more remote end of Sechler.

    July 28, 2011
  9. Well Griff we will have to agree to disagree. I see RV’s as smaller semi-trucks and the City went to great lengths to remove the semi-trucks from parking there over night.

    July 28, 2011
  10. Patrick Enders said:

    Did I miss the decision to dismantle the off-leash dog area?

    I used to exercise my dog there, but instead I’ve been driven to make choices in this regard which might not be appreciated by some city park users.

    July 28, 2011
  11. Griff, I thought the DNR was concerned about the levels of some chemicals in the now trapped sediments behind the dam. This issue was raised as a possible problem with removing the dam. A quick and dirty Googling reveals:

    http://www.stolaf.edu/people/swift/CannonRiverProject.pdf – interesting background

    http://nddc.org/weblog/post/1158/ – NDDC light thoughts.

    http://mitkmfzsi.info/2011/elsonk-2010-twku/ – intro to mussels, the canary in the river ecosystem coal mine

    http://www.crwp.net/storage/Signs%20of%20Progress%20web.pdf – a great history and overview.

    But I did not find any reports specific to the sediment behind the dam.

    July 29, 2011
  12. Patrick:

    From what I have heard the park will be back. I guess they are discussing expanding the dog park.

    July 29, 2011
  13. Beth Kallestad said:

    My understanding is that the DNR and Malt-O-Meal are in agreement that the dam will need to come out though I am not aware of a set date. DNR has this dam as a high priority. As it is a private dam the final decisions will be made by MOM and DNR. The last design I was aware of was a stepped structure that would have rocks and a more natural look that would allow fish passage. You’d need to get MOM to very that is still the case.

    July 29, 2011
  14. Patrick Enders said:

    Yes, there is Ytterboe. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to walk my dog to Dundas – and if I did, then she really wouldn’t need more exercise once we got there.

    July 29, 2011
  15. john george said:

    Patrick- Perhaps this is indication that the dog park is unnecessary. This should be a sign that it is a good candidate for a campground. I’ve heard, what with the general reduced state funding, that some camp grounds have gone to the dogs. 😉

    July 29, 2011

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