Visiting Scientific & Natural Areas

Minnesota Scientific and Natural Areas on Facebook

Visitors skiing and snowshoeing in an SNA

You're invited to visit Scientific and Natural Areas (SNAs) throughout the year. Enjoy the undisturbed natural quality of these sites. Hiking, bird-watching, nature photography, snowshoeing or other activities that do not disturb natural conditions are allowed. Most SNA's do not have trails or other facilities and none have restrooms, so come prepared. Some sites have interpretive kiosks to introduce you to key features.


Collecting plants, animals, rocks and fossils

Leave plants, animals, rocks, and other natural elements in place to fulfill their life cycle and role in the environment.

Visitors on a fall hike in an SNA

Camping, picnicking and swimming

Camping, picnicking and swimming are not allowed on Scientific and Natural Areas. In many instances, public camping facilities are available nearby. Bringing water or snacks on a site is allowed.



Enjoy the site only on foot, snowshoes, or skis, leaving all vehicles in designated parking areas or off site. Parking options vary widely. Some sites do not offer parking areas. Snowmobiles and bicycles are only allowed on trails designated for that purpose.


Rock climbing and bouldering

Rock climbing for sport, including bouldering, is not allowed on Scientific and Natural Areas. Bouldering currently promoted at Swedes Forest and Blue Devil Valley Scientific and Natural Areas on various websites and guidebooks is in violation of state law, please do not boulder at these sites.


Horses, dogs and other pets

Horses are only allowed at Wolsfeld Woods SNA on specified trails.

In most cases, pets are not allowed on SNAs.

Dogs are allowed at these sites »

Hunting, trapping, and fishing

Hunting, trapping, and fishing are allowed during the appropriate season and with the correct license at many SNAs. Only specific types of hunting are allowed on selected sites to help achieve management goals. Consult hunting and fishing regulations carefully.

Deer hunting only allowed at these sites »

Waterfowl hunting only allowed at these sites »

These SNAs are open to both hunters and other visitors. Wear blaze orange during the fall firearms hunting season.

Entry into restricted areas and sanctuaries

A few SNAs limit public access—these are primarily rookeries/ nesting sites. Restricted areas are typically on specific areas within a site, or during a certain time of the year. Please see details in visitor notes for sites with restricted areas and sanctuaries.


Visitors walking through the prairie grasses in an SNA

Most SNAs are accessible by road, but some may require a boat or a significant hike. Maps on this website are intended for directional use only and do not show precise legal boundaries. SNAs are intended to give you an opportunity to experience undisturbed natural conditions. Thus, signs and parking may not exist at individual sites.


Specific rules are posted on all sites.