Minnesota State Parks Details
With its abundance of nature and wilderness, there’s no shortage of great camping sites in Minnesota! Father Hennepin State Park is one of the best in the state; situated on the shores of Mille Lacs Lake, campers will fall asleep to breathtaking views of the sunset over open water. There are over 100 sites in this park, all of which feature flushing toilets and water spigots.
Visitors also love camping at Whitewater State Park with its bluff-lined hiking trails and the churning waters of the Whitewater River. The park’s sites have all the latest amenities, making it the perfect spot for those who want the best modern camping that Minnesota can offer.
Split Rock Lighthouse State Park is another great camping spot with stunning views and plenty of hiking trails. Those who love a rustic camping experience with plenty of outdoor adventure will find this to their liking. Set up your camp, split some firewood with your hatchet, and get your campfire going. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the beauty of nature.
Situated along the beautiful St. Croix River, Wild River State Park is a favorite destination for camping enthusiasts. There are a wide variety of backcountry camping sites here, as well as plenty of outdoor recreational activities.
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Afton State Park is a favorite among hiking enthusiasts with its over 20 miles of nature trails that meander through the park’s beautiful landscapes. A popular route is the popular North River Trail Loop, which runs along the St. Croix River and takes hikers to a scenic overlook.
One of the best state parks in Minnesota is Banning State Park, which features trails that end at the cascading Wolf Creek Falls. Other routes also trail alongside the Wild and Scenic Kettle River, as well as the ruins of a 20th century historic sandstone quarry.
Several hiking opportunities are also found at Jay Cooke State Park with approximately 50 miles of hiking trails. The Grand Portage Trail Loop and Silver Creek Trail both offer incredible views of the slanted bedrock landscape that the St. Louis River has exposed.
Those who want to explore the floodplain forests of cottonwood and willow trees unique to Minnesota should check out Fort Snelling State Park whose hiking trails meander through those. Additionally, routes here offer views of Snelling Lake and various other rivers.
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The 260-mile Superior Hiking Trail (SHT) that passes through several state parks, including Tettegouche State Park, is the crown jewel of Minnesota hiking trails. This is the perfect backpacking trail for those who want to explore the shoreline of Lake Superior, as well as several pebble beaches and jutting cliff sides.
Lake Louise State Park is an incredible fishing hole ideal for anglers hoping to catch bass, crappie, sunfish, and more. Over 47 fish species have been found in the lake, making it one of the best spots in Minnesota.
Another great fishing spot is Fort Snelling Lake at Fort Snelling State Park. Here, anglers can cast for northern pike, sunfish, and crappie, among others.
Annie Battle Lake at Glendalough State Park is considered by many to be the best fishing location in Minnesota. The 355-acre lake is home to large populations of crappie, walleye, and bass so those fishing here are sure to come away with a bountiful catch!
Geocaching is a favorite family pastime in Minnesota, which means that many of its state parks feature hidden caches! Two of the best geocaching sites here are Whitewater State Park and Afton State Park.
Large hunting areas are found at Beaver Creek Valley State Park and Lake Shetek State Park. Hunting at these parks are so popular and so extensive that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources even encourages people to visit other parks instead during the hunting season!
Day Use Areas
There are plenty of incredible outdoor spots in Minnesota that are made for a great picnic excursion. The rolling hills of Sibley State Park are a favorite spot with peaceful views of natural landscapes unique to this part of the state.
At Interstate State Park, set your blanket down on the cliff’s lookout spots for a scenic and unforgettable picnic. However, there are also plenty of picnic tables scattered throughout the park.
The cascading falls at Grand Portage State Park also make for great picnic views. This is the perfect spot for those who wish to experience Minnesota’s breathtaking nature landscapes as they tuck into their meals.
Over four miles of mountain biking trails are found at Camden State Park, ranging from beginner-friendly to those ideal for more advanced riders. These routes meander through the beautiful scenery of the park, which makes for an unforgettable and picturesque adventure.
Those wishing for a longer and more challenging cycling ride should head over to Lake Louise State Park, which provides access to the 20-mile paved Shooting Star State Trail that will take you through some of the best views of Minnesota.
At Glendalough State Park, ride along the shorelines of Annie Battle Lake and Lake Emma. Biking trails at this park are a favorite among the state’s residents!
The 5,685-acre Bear Head State Park features boat-accessible camping sites, as well as other boating facilities. Those who wish to explore Minnesota’s incredible nature while on the water will find this park to their liking.
Minnesota’s only national park, Voyageurs National Park, is also a great boating destination, whether you’re in a canoe, a motorboat, or a houseboat. Enjoy breathtaking views of the Rainy, Namakan, and Kabetogama lakes that are situated along the Canadian border.
Minnesota boasts of the picturesque North Shore, as well as thousands of lakes, which means that it has plenty of unforgettable beaches perfect for your summer vacation!
Zippel Bay State Park has over two miles of sandy beaches. This park is an underrated destination in Minnesota so crowds here aren’t too large and you’ll undoubtedly enjoy some much-needed relaxation time.
The St. Croix River beach at Afton State Park is also a must-visit, especially for those who wish to swim in the river’s calm and deep-blue waters. The weekend crowds tend to get a bit rowdy, though, so keep that in mind.
If you’re looking to swim in the beautiful waters found in Northwestern Minnesota, then head over to Hayes Lake State Park. This is the perfect spot for keeping that scorching summer heat at bay!
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Rock Climbing and Mountaineering
The cliffs – also called “Dalles” – along the St. Croix River gorge in Interstate State Park is a favorite among daring climbers! The levels of climbing routes here range from beginner to expert so this is the perfect spot for rock climbing enthusiasts of all levels. Additionally, campsites found here are well-kept and excellent, making this park the ideal destination for climbers longing for a long and multiple-day adventure
Blue Mounds State Park also offers great climbing spots with boulders ideal for beginner climbers wishing to improve their skills. Keep in mind, though, that some areas are designated “no-climb” areas due to their loose and flaking rock so make sure to avoid these parts of the cliffs.
Shovel Point, located in Tettegouche State Park, is an ancient volcanic flow that exposes the bare cliffs above Lake Superior. This spot is frequented by climbing groups with routes that range from a few dozen to those more than a hundred feet away from the bottom of the cliff faces.
For many avid equestrians, Camden State Park and Fort Ridgely State Park are the best horseback riding spots in Minnesota due to their abundance of well-kept horseback riding trails. Both parks also offer many equestrian facilities so you won’t have to worry about the comfort of your beloved horse!
Recreational Equipment Rentals
Those who wish to explore Minnesota from the river’s vantage point should check out Interstate State Park, which offers kayak and canoe rentals.
Fort Snelling State Park also offers fishing gear rentals for those looking to try their hand at casting in one of the best spots in Minnesota.
Caving enthusiasts will undoubtedly love Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park, which features Minnesota’s longest-known cave with its plethora of fascinating formations, stunning underground pools, and a maze of interconnecting passages. Mystery Cave is a treat to explore and is definitely a must-see for those visiting the state.
The best place in Minnesota for incredible winter hikes is Afton State Park where an abundance of groomed ski and snowshoe trails can be found. Take in breathtaking views of the St. Croix River, as well as the dense forests and gorgeous prairie flowers that lie blanketed under thick snow.
At Gooseberry Falls State Park, marvel at the spectacular frozen falls found within! Ice climbing is permitted on the lower falls so those brave enough to scale these thrilling natural structures should surely take it on.
Over 12 miles of cross-country ski trails are found at Fort Snelling State Park although this is also a great destination to go on a winter hike. One of the best snowy routes here is the three-mile trail that encircles the wooded Pike Island at the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers. This is definitely a winter experience to remember!
Winter is the best time to visit Split Rock Lighthouse State Park with its incredible photo-ops of icy waves crashing against the shore. This iconic Minnesota spot is a favorite among residents and out-of-towners alike.