Famously containing more than 10,000 lakes, the Midwestern state of Minnesota is a haven for those who love water based recreational activities.
Boasting no less than 75 state parks (as well as 6 national parks), it offers plenty of opportunities for fishing, swimming, boating, kayaking, paddle boarding and camping.
They also offer a spectacular landscape of dense forests, meadows with pretty wildflowers, rolling hills and rocky outcrops too. Which can be explored through endless miles of rugged hiking trails.
For residents of the city of Winona, these state park provide an excellent escape from the pressures of daily life.
Most are within easy driving distance as well, that can be completed in a day. Though they also have campground facilities for those who want to stay a bit longer.
Outlined below is a selection of some of the more notable of them.
Map of State Parks Near Winona MN
Here is a map of the Minnesota state parks covered in this post:
List of State Parks Near Winona
Spread throughout the state, these five fabulous state parks near Winona are all fantastic places to visit. If you are looking to reconnect with nature, we highly recommend a visit to all of them.
1. Rice Lake State Park
Location: 8485 Rose St, Owatonna, MN 55060
Rice Lake State Park is a stunning state park that lies just east of Owatonna, about a 90 minute drive west from Winona.
Entirely surrounded by beautiful park lands, the lake covers 750 acres and has an average depth of three feet. Its bedrock consists of limestone which incredibly formed over 500 million years ago. So if you go for a swim in it, your feet are touching something which dates back to the Paleozoic Era.
Wild rice actually grows naturally in the lake – hence its name – which was something Native American Indians harvested hundreds of years ago. Its not the best lake for swimming or fishing however, but it is perfect for canoes and kayaking.
The park lands here are covered in a hardwood forest of elm, oak, maple and basswood, and also features trails that lead on to meadows, which are great for exploring via a long hike.
If you want to camp here there are 40 drive-in sites, 18 of which are electric sites with 50 amp. There are also 5 walk in and canoe sites, as well as 4 cart-in sites. The RV length limit is 55 feet.
2. Carley State Park
Location: 50366 Wabasha County Rd 4, Plainview, MN 55964
About a 35 minute drive west from Winona lies the Carley State Park.
At only 209 acres it is not the biggest state park in Minnesota but is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful, especially during the spring when the stunning bluebell flowers are in bloom.
Established in 1949, it is a popular spot for hiking, camping, fishing and picnics. The park also boasts both a hardwood forest and farmland that are home to a variety of animals including white-tailed deer, coyotes, beavers, both red and gray fox, great horned owls, and numerous species of migratory songbirds.
The north branch of the Whitewater River, which runs through the park, is also a designated trout stream that is very popular with anglers.
Twenty secluded and wooded rustic campsites are located near the picnic area here, along with two group camp sites as well as.
3. Whitewater State Park
Location: 19041 MN-74, Altura, MN 55910
Having recently celebrated its 100th anniversary the Whitewater State Park is one of the closest state parks to Winona.
Located just a 30 minute drive from the city, in the southeastern blufflands, the 2,700 acre park features a stunning landscape of rocky limestone bluffs and deep ravines that surround the stunning Whitewater River.
Known for its six fabulous overlooks, as well as its terrific opportunities for trout fishing, one of the big attractions of this park is the virtual lack of mosquitoes!
The park also features 10 miles of hiking trails, which are great for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in the winter, as well as a beach which is open from the beginning of May all through to Labor Day. The lake affords all the most popular water based recreational activities too.
The campsite here has 110 drive-in sites that are nestled in a variety of landscape areas which range from open grassland, to secluded woodland.
4. Frontenac State Park
Location: 29223 County 28 Blvd, Frontenac, MN 55026
An hour’s drive northwest of Winona will take you to the splendid Frontenac State Park.
If you love birdwatching then this is the spot for you, as the terrain here accommodates more than 260 different species.
Situated on the Mississippi River, it comprises of stunning bluff land, prairies and both upland hardwood and floodplain forest, which make it a fabulous destination for hiking.
Swimming, fishing and boat tours are all popular activities here too, along with picnicking – there are a number of picturesque spots where you can do this at.
For those wanting to stay for a while the park has 58 drive-in campsites, of which 19 are electric, as well as 6 cart-in sites. They also have 2 backpack sites and a group camp facility as well.
5. Flandrau State Park
Location: 1300 Summit Ave, New Ulm, MN 56073
Tucked away in the valley of the Big Cottonwood River, the Flandrau State Park is reached via a 2 hour and 45 minute drive from Winona.
Boasting some 8 miles of hiking and 6 miles of cross-country ski trails, the park offers a diverse range of landscapes that interchange between oxbow marshes, spectacular prairies and wooded river bottoms.
The park provides plenty of opportunities for observation of wildlife like white-tailed deer and numerous birds, while the sand bottom swimming pool is a real hit in the winter.
The river here is a noted recreational spot for fishing, tubing and canoeing, while the park also has three campgrounds that offer 84 different electric, non-electric and rustic campsites.
For those who are interested, the park also features historic stone buildings that have been crafted by crews of the Works Progress Administration (WPA).