Where to go: For sweeping prairie views, take the trail leading from the south end of the picnic grounds and follow the blue Hiking Club Trail signs. As you walk along the valley edge at the boundary of a large reconstructed native prairie, keep an eye out for the remaining blooming wildflowers below and hawks and eagles soaring above. Continue on to the knoll overlook point for an impressive view of the Minnesota and Yellow Medicine River valleys. The Wetland Trail provides a great opportunity to view fall leaf colors in the park. The calls of ducks and geese in the nearby wetland and the crunch of leaves beneath your feet set the stage for all the best the Minnesota River valley has to offer in the fall.
What you'll see: Fall colors have again advanced rapidly this week, and are now at their peak for the season. Windy conditions have begun stripping the leaves from some of the trees, but hues of gold and yellow can still be seen among the ash, cottonwood, basswood, and aspens. Set against a backdrop of dark green oak leaves and golden prairie grasses, the contrasting bright red and deep crimson colors of sumac are especially impressive this week. Mature indiangrass, big and little bluestem, sideoats grama, and switchgrass can be seen along many of the prairie trails. Hawks, eagles, and turkey soar above the ridges and knolls as air currents rise from the valley below. A pair of river otters was also spotted recently in the wetland adjacent to the Wetland Trail along with beavers, ducks, geese, and herons. Keep a close eye out while on the trails for an excellent chance to see a variety of wildlife.
Also of interest: The Visitor Center is open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 8:00am until 4:30pm. The 2014 Meander Upper Minnesota River Art Crawl will be taking place this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (Oct. 3-5). Locally of note, the Granite Falls Walking Theatre will be held in downtown Granite Falls on Friday, October 3rd at 7:00pm. Brochures with additional information pertaining to other events are available in the Visitor Center. For a great fall color viewing experience, consider traveling along a portion of the Minnesota River Valley National Scenic Byway. Nearly 300 miles of highway with hundreds of points of interest offer endless opportunities to learn about the natural and cultural history of the Minnesota River Valley. Information packets are available in the Visitor Center.Last updated: September 30, 2014
Canít decide between a one-day or year-round park permit? The DNR has a special offer that can help. Start by purchasing a one-day permit for $5 and visit as many state parks as possible. After visiting the state parks, trade in the one-day permit by the end of that day and get $5 off the purchase of a year-round permit. Year-round permits, which cost $25, provide unlimited access to all 76 Minnesota state parks and recreation areas for a full year from the month of purchase.
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5908 Highway 67
From the town of Granite Falls at the intersection of State Hwy 212 and 23, go south on St. Hwy 23, about one block to State Hwy 67. Turn left on 67 and go eight miles to park entrances. The first of the park's three entrances will take you to the horse rider campground. The second entrance takes you to the main park entrance. The last entrance takes you to the campground.
Best time to contact the park:
Memorial Day through Labor Day: Friday and Saturday: 8:00 am to 8:00 pm; Sunday to Thursday: 8:00 am to 4:30 pm
Labor Day through Memorial Day: Saturday and Sunday: 8:00 am to 4:30 pm
Office hours will vary; please leave a message if you are unable to reach a staff member.
Questions can also be referred to the Lac qui Parle State Park office at 320-734-4450