Temperatures were quickly climbing Friday morning when a camper made a left turn off Highway 11 East into Rainy Lake Vacation Campground.
Owner Cole Hraban pointed to one of the 30 full hookup sites at the newly-opened campground, directing the Borderland visitor where to park.
“It’s an incredible feeling to finally be open,” he said. “We’re so proud to be open.”
Cole and his wife, Kari Hraban, watched their three children play on a sand beach at the Rainy Lake property with wide smiles on their faces. The scene was a visual of hard work paying off and dreams coming true.
“It’s been a lot of work, but it was all worth it,” Cole said.
The couple purchased the 32-acre property near Bohman’s Landing in August 2017. The dream was fresh, and the pair made plans throughout the winter months, hoping to welcome their first set of guests the following summer.
“Hiccups happened, and we had to wait until 2019,” Cole said. “We wanted to make sure everything was ready and in place before we opened.”
“We didn’t want to rush the process,” she said. “It would get frustrating waiting sometimes, but we knew we had to do things in the right order to be successful.”
The Hrabans are not strangers to the up-north hospitality business. Cole’s parents have owned and operated Ash-Ka-Nam Resort and Lodge on the Ash River Trail for 15 years, and he knew he wanted to use his knowledge to create a career within the industry.
“We’ve always been very involved with the resort,” Kari said, adding the couple in the past considered purchasing the business.
Once they had children, however, the Hrabans decided they didn’t want the demands of owning a resort, but wanted to make a living in a similar field.
That’s when the wheels started turning.
“When I was looking into the area, I was looking at the waters I know and looking for what they didn’t have,” Cole said. “I couldn’t find an RV park on Rainy Lake, and I was shocked. That became my ultimate plan.”
Looking to put a vision into motion, Cole discovered the property near Bohman Landing and fell in love with it. But it took some convincing on his part to bring his wife on board.
“For a month, he tried to get me to come look at this property,” Kari said. “I didn’t want to just buy a piece of land.”
Finally, she gave in.
Once arriving, she wasn’t sold right away, but then Cole walked her to the northern point of the land.
“The water was low and there was a beach,” Kari said. “The kids started playing and I saw it — I could see us raising our family here. It was just one of those moments. I was on board.”
Unbeknown to the couple at the time they first considered purchasing the property, it already had a commercial use permit for an RV campground.
“We still had a lot of work to get plans and permits approved,” Kari said. “There was a lot to learn as a new business to become operational.”
At the end, the couple said all the hard work continues to pay off and the first campers rolled in June 1.
“We’ve already had drop-ins two nights in a row,” Cole said. “It’s so great to be able to offer this to the area.”
While the immediate vision is being fulfilled, Cole and Kari said they have future plans to expand offerings including public restrooms and other amenities.
“Things will take time and we don’t want to do too much too fast,” Cole said. “But there are plans in the works.”