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Lake Itasca with the Mississippi Headwaters crossing rocks
Research facilities and resources

Itasca Station has a wide range of distinctive features that make it the perfect place to conduct research, with our unique geographic setting and assemblage of facilities and equipment.

The station is is open year-round with several winterized cabins and lab spaces. Lodging options include full bath and kitchen cabins, and bunkhouses with shared bathhouse facilities. Our dining hall serves buffet-style meals available from mid-May to early October. 

Itasca Station can host gatherings and seminars in our writing and meeting spaces. Reliable wifi is availble throughout the station, and several rooms have video conferencing capabilities. Cellphone service may be spotty due to the remote location of the station, but landline phones are available.

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Lab spaces

IBSL houses eleven well-equipped laboratories across six buildings. Nine of these labs are used for instruction and research from May through October. The Lakeside Laboratory is operational year-round and houses two labs for research ranging from aquatic ecology to molecular genetics.


IBSL offers a variety of lab and field equipment available for use, ranging from fume hoods and -80°F freezers to compasses and canoes. Check out this equipment list to see what supplies are available. Note that this is not a comprehensive list of our equipment. If you require specific equipment, contact the Station Scientist at with inquiries.

IBSL may not be able to provide all of the supplies needed for a project. Researchers are more than welcome to bring their own equipment and can send it to the Station ahead of their arrival. 

IBSL allows the use of Station watercraft (including motorboats, canoes, and kayaks) to conduct research activities. If this is of interest to you, please contact the Station Scientist at for more detailed information.

Specimen collections

IBSL is home to a herbarium and collections of algae, birds, insects, mammals, fish, reptiles, and amphibians on-site that are available for study.

UMN Offsite Plots

The University of Minnesota owns two plots of land north of Itasca State Park, just under 4 miles away from IBSL. They hold a mixture of early-successional forest and meadow, which you can see in the maps below. Unlike land within the State Park boundaries, these UMN plots present an opportunity for manipulative research projects.

North Plot: 19 acres (7.7 hectares)

 Dominant habitats in the North Plot:

South Plot: 44 acres (17.8 hectares)

 Dominant habitats in the South Plot:

Dominant soils in the North and South Plots:

Adapted and mapped using data from UCDavis SoilWeb.

State lands

State Forest lands, State Natural Areas (SNAs), Iron Springs Bog, and LaSalle Lake are all nearby and available for research or recreation