There are 66 state parks in Minnesota, and even if you visited them a thousand times, the beauty of each one would still take your breath away like it was the first time.
The state parks near Rochester top the list with scenic landscapes, gorgeous lakes, and fascinating wildlife.
The picturesque wilderness of the state park provides a suitable backdrop for nature-inspired photography and an amazing source of inspiration for artists.
Sixty-six state parks are a lot to sort through, so we compiled a list of the best state parks near Rochester to give you a headstart. The state parks on this list are nothing short of awe-inspiring.
Visit any of these parks to experience the outdoors like you’ve never seen it.
Map of State Parks Near Rochester MN
Here is a map of the Minnesota state parks covered in this post:
List of State Parks Near Rochester
Here are each of those state parks with distance from Rochester and what is special about each.
1. Lake Louise State Park
Lake Louise State Park is located 36.5 miles away from Rochester. Gorgeous pastures and rich hardwood surround the park. The park offers different outdoor recreational activities, including swimming, hiking, picnicking, horseback riding, biking, and jogging. It also contains rare butterfly species so that guests can go butterfly watching.
View a beautiful array of wildflowers and wildlife. And experience a perfect oasis of peace and calmness. Clear your mind of worry and enjoy the tranquility of this park.
Camp under the stars with your friends and family at the lovely campsite. It can accommodate up to 50 people and is equipped with fire rings and picnic tables. The campsite has water available for the guest and vault toilets.
There is also a 45-foot RV site so guests can bring their RVs and camp on the park ground.
2. Carley State Park
This park offers another opportunity to view unique flowers and majestic wildlife. During spring, the park is home to the beautiful bluebell flowers, and all year round, guests can see various wildlife. There are beavers, deer, foxes, and even coyotes on the park grounds. You can also enjoy bird watching. The park is situated 32 miles from Rochester.
Have fun river crossing on the stepping stones that run through the North Area of the Whitewater River. The picnic area is great for day guests. It is a lush green field with picnic tables and a playground nearby for the children. The picnic tables are set up under the warm shade of the tall, healthy trees.
There are 29 campsites in the park, complete with picnic tables, fire rings for telling stories and roasting marshmallows, and vault toilets. The campsite grounds are very smooth so you can set up your tent without worrying about stones.
3. Nerstrand Big Woods State Park
Nerstrand Big Woods State Park is a carpeted meadow located just 49.7 miles away from Rochester. This park offers enough fun to keep everyone entertained.
You don’t have to walk too far before the fun begins; park your car and walk a short distance to the picnic area to start your day on a high note. The picnic area has standing grills, picnic tables, and fire rings. The picnic shelter offers a unique picnicking experience. It has a fireplace, kitchen counter, sink, and outlets.
Other fun activities include horseshoe throwing, volleyball, hiking, and reading interpretive signs. During the winter, guests can enjoy cross country skiing or snowmobile riding.
There are 51 campsites available, 27 of which are electrical, so you could rough it or enjoy camping with a bit of luxury at the electric campsites. You could also enjoy quiet time at the listening beach, basking in nature’s beauty.
4. Rice Lake State Park
This park offers a scenic view with vibrant colors and picturesque terrain. It is located about 41.2 miles away from Rochester.
You can witness the waterfowl as they swim across the shallow lakes and read about the different types of waterfowl on the interpretive signs that the park provides.
Take in the view from the Lakeshore Trail Bridge, a short wooden bridge in-between the trail and the picnic area. When you’re not observing the waterfowl, picnicking, or canoeing, you can spend some time hiking through the Lakeshore Trail. You can take a break from hiking at the trail shelter.
For night use visitors, the park offers various camping options, such as group campsites, cart-in campsites, canoe-in campsites, walk-in campsites, and two separate campgrounds.
5. Myre-Big Island State Park
This park is the farthest away from Rochester, sitting at about 64.4 miles away, so if you’re a fan of road trips, then this park is for you. The park offers lots of fun activities and a breathtaking view. You can walk, jog, or bike through the paved trail while viewing stunning wildflowers. You can also peek at a view of the Albert Lea Lake from the trail and view the native prairie.
The park offers nicely equipped campsites with tent pads, flushable toilets, showers, picnic tables, and fire rings. For a more comfortable experience, guests can rent out the log cabin. It is a warm cabin with electricity that accommodates five people and is not too far from the campground’s flushable toilets.
There is a picnic area along the Albert Lea Lake and a hiking trail where hikers can view various wildlife, including foxes, raccoons, squirrels, and deer. Another fun activity this park is known for is bird watching.
Minnesota parks are definitely worth all the excitement and the hype people give them. The landscape alone is amazing to witness, and the wildlife is even more incredible. Visit one of these parks so you can have a story of your own to tell.
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