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The 10 Best State Parks in Minnesota

Minnesota State Park

One way that people like to spend their time when visiting a new area is by exploring the outdoor space. Each state offers something different in terms of its landscape, so it is a good idea to visit different outdoor spaces to fully experience an area’s diversity. Some of the best places to enjoy the outdoors are in the state parks, and Minnesota has many gorgeous state parks to visit. Here are the 10 best state parks in Minnesota to help you decide how to spend your time in this state.

10. Glacial Lakes State Park

Founded in 1963 to preserve the prairie, Glacial Lakes State Park contains many glacial landforms. The park spans 2,423-acres, and it sits in the Leaf Mountains. There are woodlands, prairies, bodies of water, and a diverse array of flora and fauna to enjoy. Those who visit the park can observe the wildlife, try cross-country skiing, have fun snowmobiling, or give snowshoeing a go. Alternatively, they can head to the water for fishing, boating, and swimming.

9. Gooseberry Falls State Park

Although the area around Gooseberry Falls was already preserved, Gooseberry Falls State Park was not established until 1937. The best place to start a visit to this park is at the Joseph N. Alexander Visitor Center, which houses many fun and interesting interpretative displays and exhibits. It also boasts a screening room and a gift shop. There are eight miles of mountain biking trails and 18 miles of hiking trails to explore in the park.

8. Frontenac State park

Birdwatching enthusiasts enjoy visiting Frontenac State Park, as it is home to hundreds of species of residential and migratory birds. It is also a popular spot to visit because of its rich and diverse history. The trails throughout the park are used for hiking in the summer and for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in the winter. Other activities to enjoy include camping, sledding, swimming, and fishing in Lake Pepin for bluegill, northern pike, crappie, and channel catfish.

7. Cascade River State Park

For some people, waterfalls are the most beautiful natural landmarks. If you enjoy seeing waterfalls, then the best place to visit in Minnesota is Cascades River State Park. The park is on the northern shore of Lake Superior, and much of the terrain is rugged and rocky. Many people visit to photograph the waterfalls or to take a dip in the pools of water below. There are also some scenic hikes along the river and the lake to explore, and these showcase a diverse range of flora and fauna. Around the park, there are several picnic sites and campgrounds.

6. Blue Mounds State Park

The main feature of Blue Mounds State Park is the Precambrian Sioux Quartzite bedrock. Although the surface is pink, the early settlers thought it looked blue from a distance. Due to the nature of the terrain and its natural features, rock climbing is one of the favorite activities to enjoy at this location. However, there are many more activities to enjoy, as there is an interpretive center, a large prairie with bison, and a small reservoir for fishing and swimming.

5. Bear Head Lake State Park

Vacation Idea lists Bear Head Lake State Park as one of the best state parks to visit during your time in Minnesota. It is one of the most popular and visited recreational areas in the state due to its stunning views, its multitude of trails, the diversity of the landscape, and the array of activities that you can enjoy at the park. Visitors can swim, fish, canoe, or go boating on Bear Head Lake. In the summer, those who visit the park enjoy hiking the trails, while winter visitors can have a go at snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

4. Jay Cooke State Park

Running through Jay Cooke State Park is the St. Louis River, which is a tributary for Lake Superior. While the river provides a fun playground for various water-based activities, visitors also enjoy exploring the 50 miles of hiking trails. Two of the best trails within the park are the Silver Creek Trail and the North Country National Scenic Trail. However, if you want to experience picturesque views, then the Carlton Trail is the better option, as it has the highest vantage point.

3. Whitewater State Park

Whitewater State Park sits on the banks of the Whitewater River in southern Minnesota. The park spans 27,000 acres of landscape that includes forests, the river, beaches, and limestone bluffs. One of the most popular activities at this park is hiking to Chimney Rock to enjoy views of the spectacular landscape. Other points that offer excellent views include Signal Point and Eagle Point. Another popular activity at Whitewater State Park is trout fishing. It is possible for visitors to spend the night within the park, as there are several campgrounds.

2. Split Rock Lighthouse State Park

One of Minnesota’s most scenic locations is the North Shore of Lake Superior, and this is where you will find Split Rock Lighthouse State Park. It is named after the historic lighthouse that sits atop the dramatic cliffs, at the base of which there are pebble beaches. Many people visit to enter and climb the lighthouse, while others head to this park to explore its trails.

1. Voyageurs National Park

According to Planetware, the best state park in Minnesota is Voyageurs State Park. The park is so-called because of the French-Canadian fur traders that frequented the area in the past. Most of the park is covered in water that is surrounded by rugged terrain, as it is the confluence of four major lakes that sit along the border between the United States and Canada. Although you can enter the park and go to the visitor’s center on foot, most of the park is only accessible by boat, plane, or by crossing the lakes when they are frozen during the winter. The park has many trails, historic sites, and ecosystems to explore, and canoeing and fishing are both popular activities.

Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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