State parks

Parks and Trails Manage:

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Division of Parks and Trails system includes 67 state parks and 9 recreation areas, 8 waysides, 13 state trails, and 62 state forest campgrounds and day-use areas.

Number of Visitors:

In 2012, state parks hosted 7,989,720 visitors. Day use accounts for most of the visits. Nearly 16 percent of park visitors come from other states and countries.

Number of Campers:

More than 974,488 people camped at state parks in 2012.

Most Visited Parks:

The most visited state parks in 2012 included:

  • Fort Snelling – 959,859
  • Gooseberry Falls –  598,889
  • Itasca –  512,352
  • Interstate - 307,729
  • Split Rock Lighthouse – 304,576

State Parks Includes:

  • 4,239 campsites
  • 1,234 miles of trail
  • 730 archaeological sites
  • 11 scientific and natural areas*
  • 8 state waysides
  • 13 state trails
  • 285 horse camp sites
  • 62 National Register Historic Districts including 4 National Historic Landmarks
  • 111 group camps
  • 33 beaches
  • 33 fishing piers in 28 state parks and recreation areas
  • 32 visitor centers
  • 97 water access sites in state parks
  • 477 miles of road
  • 600 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places

* Includes SNA's within 500 meters of a state park.

Park Fees:

Reservations:

Online reservations can be made 24 hours a day, except for the first day a reservation becomes available. On that first day, reservations cannot be made online before 8 a.m. Reserve Now!

Phone reservations can be made by calling 866-857-2757 (TTY: 952-936-4008) between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday through Sunday October through March, and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily April through September. Call center is closed holidays.

Natural and Cultural Resources:

The Division of State Parks and Trails system has an active resource management program to protect, preserve and restore cultural resources and natural areas. These include some of the finest state examples of prairie, northern forest, pinelands and Big Woods found in Minnesota. About 226 species of plants and animals found in 1,776 locations in state parks are classified as endangered, threatened or special concern at either the state or federal level. Examples include Henslow's sparrow, four-toed salamanders, western prairie fringed orchids, Topeka shiner and the dwarf trout lily. Annually, the Division conducts resource management activities to restore wetlands, improve water quality, eradicate invasive plants, and enhance native vegetation and other resources on more than 22,000 acres of state park land.

Interpretive Programs:

Annually, over one million people attend environmental education programs, participate in nature walks and self-guided nature tours and tour exhibits at park interpretive centers. State parks sponsor a Junior Naturalist Program for children from ages 7-14. Interpretive program schedules are published in the Parks and Trails Programs & Special Events brochure and on the web site event calendar.

Park Activities:

According to park surveys, the most popular state park activity is hiking. Visitors also enjoy camping, backpacking, geocaching, canoeing, biking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, inline skating, swimming, birding, picnicking, sail boarding, rock climbing, snowmobiling, and exploring nature.

Special Tours:

Hill Annex Mine, Soudan Underground Mine, and Mystery Cave at Forestville State Park offer public tours beginning Memorial Day weekend and continuing through October (limited hours, please contact park for specific times). Group and Educational tours are also available with advanced notice.  There is a fee for all tours.

Park Support:

There are many ways of supporting state parks including purchasing a state park annual permit, volunteering, participating in the Park Partners program or purchasing items at a park Nature Stores.

Clubs:

The goal for Passport Club members is to visit all state parks. Hiking Club members earn a colorful patch after hiking 25, 50, 75, 100, 125, 175 and all miles. Hike 100 miles and you'll also receive a coupon for a free night* of camping. In each club, members earn incentive awards as they work toward the goal. Club membership fees are $14.95 and cover the cost of materials.

Lodging:

A number of state parks have guesthouses, cabins and other lodging available for rent. These include: Bear Head Lake, Fort Ridgely, Itasca, St. Croix, Savanna Portage, Scenic, Tettegouche and Wild River state parks.

Online reservations can be made 24 hours a day, except for the first day a reservation becomes available. On that first day, reservations cannot be made online before 8 a.m. Reserve Now!

Phone reservations can be made by calling 866-857-2757 (TTY: 952-936-4008) between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. daily November through March, and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily April through October. Call center is closed holidays.

Camper cabins can be reserved a year in advance and can accommodate five to six people. Camper cabins are rustic, one-room wooden cabins that provide basic shelter for visitors who want a "camping out" experience but prefer not to deal with a tent. Each 12 by 16 foot cabin contains a table, benches, and wooden bunkbeds with mattresses. Most cabins have a screened porch. More camper cabin details and statewide map.

Nature Stores:

Located in most state parks, these stores sell nature-related products. All proceeds from merchandise sales fund resource and interpretive projects in state parks. The top ten nature stores are located in Itasca, Gooseberry, Lake Carlos, Sibley, Forestville/Mystery Cave, Fort Snelling, Grand Portage, Interstate, Jay Cooke, Lake Bemidji, St Croix, Soudan, Split Rock Lighthouse, Tettegouche, Whitewater, William O’Brien state parks.

Oldest State Parks:

Minnesota became the second oldest state park system in the country with the establishment of Itasca State Park on April 20, 1891. The next state park added to the system was Interstate State Park on April 25, 1895. The most significant growth years occurred in 1937, 1957, and 1963. In 1937, ten new parks were added across the state. In 1957, five parks were added including four along the North Shore of Lake Superior. The largest number of parks added at one time (11) occurred in 1963.

First Commissioner:

Jacob V. Brower, who mapped the headwaters of the Mississippi River at Itasca.

Divison of Parks and Trails Mission:

Our vision is to create unforgettable park, trail, and water recreation experiences that inspire people to pass along the love for the outdoors to the next generation.

Who Benefits:

State parks within the Divison of Parks and Trails benefit visitors, communities, the economy, and the environment. Benefits to visitors include opportunities for recreation as well as places to go to experience solitude, enjoy the natural environment, learn about nature, and relax. Communities near state parks gain a sense of community pride, a better understanding of their natural environment and a greater appreciation for what makes their community a special place in which to live and work. The economy benefits from visitor spending in local communities, employment opportunities, and economic growth generated by state parks. The environment benefits from the species diversity and ecosystem health associated with protection of the myriad natural resources found within state parks.

 

State Parks

Year Established

Itasca

1891

Interstate

1895

Minneopa

1905

Fort Ridgely

1911

Jay Cooke

1915

Sibley

1919

Whitewater

1919

Scenic

1921

Lake Bemidji

1923

John Latsch

1925
(First established as Scenic Highway State Park, it was officially designated as a State Park in 1997.)

Charles Lindbergh

1931

Camden

1935

Beaver Creek Valley

1937

Blue Mounds

1937

Buffalo River

1937

Flandrau

1937

Gooseberry Falls

1937

Lake Bronson

1937

Lake Shetek

1937

Lake Carlos

1937

Monson Lake

1937

Split Rock Creek

1937

Father Hennepin

1941

St. Croix

1943

Kilen Woods

1945

McCarthy Beach

1945

Nerstrand Big Woods

1945

Split Rock Lighthouse

1945

Myre-Big Island

1947

William O’Brien

1947

Carley

1949

Old Mill

1951

George Crosby Manitou

1955

Cascade River

1957

Frontenac

1957

Judge Magney

1957

Mille Lacs Kathio

1957

Temperance River

1957

Crow Wing

1959

Lac qui Parle

1959

Schoolcraft

1959

Zippel Bay

1959

Bear Head Lake

1961

Big Stone Lake

1961

Fort Snelling

1961

Savanna Portage

1961

Banning

1963

Forestville/Mystery Cave

1963

Glacial Lakes

1963

Great River Bluffs (formerly O.L. Kipp)

1963

Lake Louise

1963

Lake Maria

1963

Maplewood

1963

Rice Lake

1963

Sakatah Lake

1963

Soudan Underground Mine

1963

Upper Sioux Agency

1963

Franz Jevne

1967
(Official designation was as a State Wayside Park.. Legislation in 1969 officially changed the name to Franz Jevne State Park.

Hayes Lake

1967

Afton

1969

MN Valley State Recreation Area

1969

Moose Lake

1971

Wild River

1973

Tettegouche

1979

Hill Annex Mine

1988

Grand Portage

1989

Glendalough

1991

Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area

1993

Garden Island State Recreation Area

1998

Big Bog State Recreation Area

2000

Red River Valley State Recreation Area

2000

Lake Vermillion

2010

LaSalle Lake State Recreation Area

2011

Waysides

Year Established

Sam Brown Monument

1929

Inspiration Peak

1931

Joseph R. Brown

1937

St. Croix Islands

1943
(Exchange discussion underway with National Park Service ’05)

Caribou Falls

1947

Kodonce River

1947

Ray Berglund

1951

Cross River

1961
(Became a part of Temperance River State Park in 1998. No longer a wayside.)

Devils Track Falls

1961

Flood Bay

1963

(Updated April 2014)