Most rural counties in Minnesota

Written by:
July 25, 2022
P199 // Wikimedia Commons

Most rural counties in Minnesota

A surprising number of U.S. counties have 100% rural land-702, in fact. Stacker compiled a list of the most rural counties in Minnesota using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Counties are ranked by the percent of land area that is rural, as of the 2010 Census, with ties broken by residents per square mile, according to 2020 5-year population estimates.

According to the Census Bureau, rural land encompasses any land that isn't an urban area. To be considered an urban area, a place has to have a densely settled core of census tracts or blocks and count at least 2,500 people, at least 1,500 of whom must be residents of non-institutional buildings. Areas with 50,000 people or more are considered urbanized areas, while areas with between 2,500 and 50,000 people are considered urban clusters.

You may also like: Most popular girl names in the 80s in Minnesota

1 / 50
Jonathunder // Wikimedia Commons

#50. Houston County

- Rural area: 99.2% (548 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.8% (5 square miles)
- Total land area: 552 square miles
--- #61 largest county in state, #1,892 nationwide

- Population density: 33.8 people / square mile (18,670 residents)
--- #51 lowest density county in state, #1,311 nationwide

2 / 50
McGhiever // Wikimedia Commons

#49. Mille Lacs County

- Rural area: 99.3% (568 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.7% (4 square miles)
- Total land area: 572 square miles
--- #56 largest county in state, #1,755 nationwide

- Population density: 45.4 people / square mile (25,963 residents)
--- #59 lowest density county in state, #1,586 nationwide

3 / 50
Elkman // Wikimedia Commons

#48. Meeker County

- Rural area: 99.3% (604 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.7% (4 square miles)
- Total land area: 608 square miles
--- #52 largest county in state, #1,598 nationwide

- Population density: 38.1 people / square mile (23,149 residents)
--- #53 lowest density county in state, #1,426 nationwide

4 / 50
McGhiever // Wikimedia Commons

#47. Nobles County

- Rural area: 99.3% (710 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.7% (5 square miles)
- Total land area: 715 square miles
--- #36 largest county in state, #1,275 nationwide

- Population density: 30.3 people / square mile (21,667 residents)
--- #48 lowest density county in state, #1,220 nationwide

5 / 50
McGhiever // Wikimedia Commons

#46. Chippewa County

- Rural area: 99.3% (577 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.7% (4 square miles)
- Total land area: 581 square miles
--- #54 largest county in state, #1,693 nationwide

- Population density: 20.4 people / square mile (11,876 residents)
--- #35 lowest density county in state, #906 nationwide

You may also like: Best private high schools in Minnesota

6 / 50
McGhiever // Wikimedia Commons

#45. Morrison County

- Rural area: 99.4% (1,119 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.6% (6 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,125 square miles
--- #17 largest county in state, #559 nationwide

- Population density: 29.4 people / square mile (33,119 residents)
--- #46 lowest density county in state, #1,195 nationwide

7 / 50
McGhiever // Wikimedia Commons

#44. Wadena County

- Rural area: 99.5% (534 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.5% (3 square miles)
- Total land area: 536 square miles
--- #64 largest county in state, #1,948 nationwide

- Population density: 25.5 people / square mile (13,681 residents)
--- #42 lowest density county in state, #1,086 nationwide

8 / 50
w:User:Malepheasant // Wikimedia Commons

#43. Kanabec County

- Rural area: 99.5% (519 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.5% (2 square miles)
- Total land area: 522 square miles
--- #66 largest county in state, #2,001 nationwide

- Population density: 31.1 people / square mile (16,205 residents)
--- #49 lowest density county in state, #1,240 nationwide

9 / 50
Jatakuck // Wikimedia Commons

#42. Watonwan County

- Rural area: 99.5% (433 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.5% (2 square miles)
- Total land area: 435 square miles
--- #76 largest county in state, #2,330 nationwide

- Population density: 25.1 people / square mile (10,903 residents)
--- #40 lowest density county in state, #1,072 nationwide

10 / 50
Gobonobo // Wikimedia Commons

#41. Stevens County

- Rural area: 99.5% (561 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.5% (3 square miles)
- Total land area: 564 square miles
--- #57 largest county in state, #1,831 nationwide

- Population density: 17.3 people / square mile (9,770 residents)
--- #29 lowest density county in state, #808 nationwide

You may also like: Famous actors from Minnesota

11 / 50
McGhiever // Wikimedia Commons

#40. Beltrami County

- Rural area: 99.6% (2,494 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.5% (11 square miles)
- Total land area: 2,505 square miles
--- #4 largest county in state, #218 nationwide

- Population density: 18.7 people / square mile (46,784 residents)
--- #31 lowest density county in state, #843 nationwide

12 / 50
McGhiever // Wikimedia Commons

#39. Becker County

- Rural area: 99.6% (1,309 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.4% (6 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,315 square miles
--- #15 largest county in state, #453 nationwide

- Population density: 26.0 people / square mile (34,227 residents)
--- #43 lowest density county in state, #1,099 nationwide

13 / 50
Jonathunder // Wikimedia Commons

#38. Pipestone County

- Rural area: 99.6% (463 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.4% (2 square miles)
- Total land area: 465 square miles
--- #71 largest county in state, #2,212 nationwide

- Population density: 19.7 people / square mile (9,163 residents)
--- #34 lowest density county in state, #883 nationwide

14 / 50
McGhiever // Wikimedia Commons

#37. Rock County

- Rural area: 99.6% (480 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.4% (2 square miles)
- Total land area: 482 square miles
--- #70 largest county in state, #2,152 nationwide

- Population density: 19.5 people / square mile (9,386 residents)
--- #33 lowest density county in state, #869 nationwide

15 / 50
SH5544 // Wikimedia Commons

#36. Otter Tail County

- Rural area: 99.6% (1,964 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.4% (8 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,972 square miles
--- #7 largest county in state, #289 nationwide

- Population density: 29.6 people / square mile (58,416 residents)
--- #47 lowest density county in state, #1,201 nationwide

You may also like: Counties with the highest rate of food insecurity in Minnesota

16 / 50
Myotus // Wikimedia Commons

#35. Polk County

- Rural area: 99.6% (1,963 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.4% (8 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,971 square miles
--- #8 largest county in state, #290 nationwide

- Population density: 15.9 people / square mile (31,384 residents)
--- #25 lowest density county in state, #767 nationwide

17 / 50
David Daniel // Wikimedia Commons

#34. Cottonwood County

- Rural area: 99.6% (636 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.4% (2 square miles)
- Total land area: 639 square miles
--- #47 largest county in state, #1,491 nationwide

- Population density: 17.7 people / square mile (11,279 residents)
--- #30 lowest density county in state, #818 nationwide

18 / 50
Jonathunder // Wikimedia Commons

#33. Jackson County

- Rural area: 99.6% (700 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.4% (3 square miles)
- Total land area: 703 square miles
--- #43 largest county in state, #1,320 nationwide

- Population density: 14.0 people / square mile (9,873 residents)
--- #22 lowest density county in state, #709 nationwide

19 / 50
McGhiever // Wikimedia Commons

#32. Redwood County

- Rural area: 99.7% (876 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.3% (3 square miles)
- Total land area: 879 square miles
--- #25 largest county in state, #912 nationwide

- Population density: 17.3 people / square mile (15,193 residents)
--- #28 lowest density county in state, #806 nationwide

20 / 50
Jonathunder // Wikimedia Commons

#31. Itasca County

- Rural area: 99.7% (2,660 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.3% (8 square miles)
- Total land area: 2,668 square miles
--- #3 largest county in state, #197 nationwide

- Population density: 16.9 people / square mile (45,180 residents)
--- #27 lowest density county in state, #798 nationwide

You may also like: Counties with the lowest hospital bed capacity in Minnesota

21 / 50
McGhiever // Wikimedia Commons

#30. Wilkin County

- Rural area: 99.7% (749 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.3% (2 square miles)
- Total land area: 751 square miles
--- #33 largest county in state, #1,172 nationwide

- Population density: 8.3 people / square mile (6,264 residents)
--- #9 lowest density county in state, #511 nationwide

22 / 50
McGhiever // Wikimedia Commons

#29. Todd County

- Rural area: 99.7% (942 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.3% (2 square miles)
- Total land area: 945 square miles
--- #23 largest county in state, #748 nationwide

- Population density: 26.0 people / square mile (24,603 residents)
--- #44 lowest density county in state, #1,100 nationwide

23 / 50
McGhiever // Wikimedia Commons

#28. Hubbard County

- Rural area: 99.8% (923 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.3% (2 square miles)
- Total land area: 926 square miles
--- #24 largest county in state, #783 nationwide

- Population density: 23.0 people / square mile (21,287 residents)
--- #38 lowest density county in state, #1,004 nationwide

24 / 50
Jonathunder // Wikimedia Commons

#27. Faribault County

- Rural area: 99.8% (711 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.2% (2 square miles)
- Total land area: 712 square miles
--- #38 largest county in state, #1,285 nationwide

- Population density: 19.3 people / square mile (13,727 residents)
--- #32 lowest density county in state, #861 nationwide

25 / 50
Bobak Ha'Eri // Wikimedia Commons

#26. Swift County

- Rural area: 99.8% (740 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.2% (2 square miles)
- Total land area: 742 square miles
--- #35 largest county in state, #1,190 nationwide

- Population density: 12.6 people / square mile (9,329 residents)
--- #20 lowest density county in state, #661 nationwide

You may also like: Counties with the highest COVID-19 death rate in Minnesota

26 / 50
Ed Lombard // Wikimedia Commons

#25. Koochiching County

- Rural area: 99.8% (3,097 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.2% (7 square miles)
- Total land area: 3,104 square miles
--- #2 largest county in state, #167 nationwide

- Population density: 4.0 people / square mile (12,355 residents)
--- #4 lowest density county in state, #309 nationwide

27 / 50
ACNWelc // Wikimedia Commons

#24. Pine County

- Rural area: 99.9% (1,409 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.2% (2 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,411 square miles
--- #13 largest county in state, #426 nationwide

- Population density: 20.7 people / square mile (29,254 residents)
--- #36 lowest density county in state, #914 nationwide

28 / 50
Myotus // Wikimedia Commons

#23. Roseau County

- Rural area: 99.9% (1,669 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.2% (3 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,672 square miles
--- #11 largest county in state, #360 nationwide

- Population density: 9.1 people / square mile (15,259 residents)
--- #13 lowest density county in state, #541 nationwide

29 / 50
w:User:Malepheasant // Wikimedia Commons

#22. Yellow Medicine County

- Rural area: 99.9% (758 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.1% (1 square miles)
- Total land area: 759 square miles
--- #31 largest county in state, #1,153 nationwide

- Population density: 12.9 people / square mile (9,775 residents)
--- #21 lowest density county in state, #672 nationwide

30 / 50
McGhiever // Wikimedia Commons

#21. Fillmore County

- Rural area: 99.9% (861 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.1% (1 square miles)
- Total land area: 861 square miles
--- #28 largest county in state, #963 nationwide

- Population density: 24.4 people / square mile (21,031 residents)
--- #39 lowest density county in state, #1,050 nationwide

You may also like: Counties with the lowest home prices in Minnesota

31 / 50
McGhiever // Wikimedia Commons

#20. Lake County

- Rural area: 99.9% (2,108 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.1% (1 square miles)
- Total land area: 2,109 square miles
--- #5 largest county in state, #266 nationwide

- Population density: 5.0 people / square mile (10,571 residents)
--- #5 lowest density county in state, #368 nationwide

32 / 50
Elkman // Wikimedia Commons

#19. Sibley County

- Rural area: 100.0% (589 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 589 square miles
--- #53 largest county in state, #1,664 nationwide

- Population density: 25.3 people / square mile (14,871 residents)
--- #41 lowest density county in state, #1,079 nationwide

33 / 50
McGhiever // Wikimedia Commons

#18. Pope County

- Rural area: 100.0% (670 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 670 square miles
--- #44 largest county in state, #1,405 nationwide

- Population density: 16.6 people / square mile (11,107 residents)
--- #26 lowest density county in state, #789 nationwide

34 / 50
Tony Webster // Wikimedia Commons

#17. Renville County

- Rural area: 100.0% (983 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 983 square miles
--- #22 largest county in state, #701 nationwide

- Population density: 14.8 people / square mile (14,572 residents)
--- #24 lowest density county in state, #731 nationwide

35 / 50
McGhiever // Wikimedia Commons

#16. Cass County

- Rural area: 100.0% (2,022 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 2,022 square miles
--- #6 largest county in state, #282 nationwide

- Population density: 14.6 people / square mile (29,462 residents)
--- #23 lowest density county in state, #725 nationwide

You may also like: Counties with the most super commuters in Minnesota

36 / 50
McGhiever // Wikimedia Commons

#15. Murray County

- Rural area: 100.0% (705 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 705 square miles
--- #42 largest county in state, #1,315 nationwide

- Population density: 11.7 people / square mile (8,247 residents)
--- #19 lowest density county in state, #626 nationwide

37 / 50
Gobonobo // Wikimedia Commons

#14. Grant County

- Rural area: 100.0% (548 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 548 square miles
--- #62 largest county in state, #1,904 nationwide

- Population density: 10.9 people / square mile (5,962 residents)
--- #18 lowest density county in state, #604 nationwide

38 / 50
Jonathunder // Wikimedia Commons

#13. Lincoln County

- Rural area: 100.0% (537 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 537 square miles
--- #63 largest county in state, #1,945 nationwide

- Population density: 10.5 people / square mile (5,641 residents)
--- #17 lowest density county in state, #593 nationwide

39 / 50
McGhiever // Wikimedia Commons

#12. Big Stone County

- Rural area: 100.0% (499 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 499 square miles
--- #67 largest county in state, #2,087 nationwide

- Population density: 10.0 people / square mile (4,974 residents)
--- #16 lowest density county in state, #575 nationwide

40 / 50
Andrew Filer (afiler) // Wikimedia Commons

#11. Mahnomen County

- Rural area: 100.0% (558 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 558 square miles
--- #59 largest county in state, #1,861 nationwide

- Population density: 9.9 people / square mile (5,508 residents)
--- #15 lowest density county in state, #572 nationwide

You may also like: Best school districts in Minnesota

41 / 50
w:User:Malepheasant // Wikimedia Commons

#10. Red Lake County

- Rural area: 100.0% (432 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 432 square miles
--- #78 largest county in state, #2,347 nationwide

- Population density: 9.3 people / square mile (4,005 residents)
--- #14 lowest density county in state, #546 nationwide

42 / 50
Myotus // Wikimedia Commons

#9. Clearwater County

- Rural area: 100.0% (999 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 999 square miles
--- #21 largest county in state, #682 nationwide

- Population density: 8.9 people / square mile (8,872 residents)
--- #12 lowest density county in state, #531 nationwide

43 / 50
Elkman // Wikimedia Commons

#8. Aitkin County

- Rural area: 100.0% (1,822 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,822 square miles
--- #9 largest county in state, #322 nationwide

- Population density: 8.7 people / square mile (15,826 residents)
--- #11 lowest density county in state, #526 nationwide

44 / 50
Jet Lowe // Wikimedia Commons

#7. Lac qui Parle County

- Rural area: 100.0% (765 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 765 square miles
--- #30 largest county in state, #1,139 nationwide

- Population density: 8.7 people / square mile (6,645 residents)
--- #10 lowest density county in state, #525 nationwide

45 / 50
Mathieu Nicklay // Wikimedia Commons

#6. Norman County

- Rural area: 100.0% (873 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 873 square miles
--- #26 largest county in state, #932 nationwide

- Population density: 7.4 people / square mile (6,466 residents)
--- #8 lowest density county in state, #468 nationwide

You may also like: Best places to raise a family in Minnesota

46 / 50
McGhiever // Wikimedia Commons

#5. Traverse County

- Rural area: 100.0% (574 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 574 square miles
--- #55 largest county in state, #1,740 nationwide

- Population density: 5.7 people / square mile (3,282 residents)
--- #7 lowest density county in state, #399 nationwide

47 / 50
McGhiever // Wikimedia Commons

#4. Marshall County

- Rural area: 100.0% (1,775 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,775 square miles
--- #10 largest county in state, #335 nationwide

- Population density: 5.3 people / square mile (9,353 residents)
--- #6 lowest density county in state, #380 nationwide

48 / 50
Myotus // Wikimedia Commons

#3. Kittson County

- Rural area: 100.0% (1,099 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,099 square miles
--- #18 largest county in state, #581 nationwide

- Population density: 3.9 people / square mile (4,272 residents)
--- #3 lowest density county in state, #301 nationwide

49 / 50
McGhiever // Wikimedia Commons

#2. Cook County

- Rural area: 100.0% (1,452 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,452 square miles
--- #12 largest county in state, #413 nationwide

- Population density: 3.7 people / square mile (5,402 residents)
--- #2 lowest density county in state, #289 nationwide

50 / 50
P199 // Wikimedia Commons

#1. Lake of the Woods County

- Rural area: 100.0% (1,298 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,298 square miles
--- #16 largest county in state, #462 nationwide

- Population density: 2.9 people / square mile (3,747 residents)
--- #1 lowest density county in state, #226 nationwide

You may also like: Most rural counties in Minnesota

Trending Now