11 of 13 Types of Minnesota Recreational Facilities--State Parks
Ivan Gillis

Minnesota State Parks


Park name

County or Counties




Afton State Park


Lies on a glacial moraine with deep ravines that drop 300 feet (91 m) down to the St. Croix River.[9]



Banning State Park


Contains 1.5 miles (2.4 km) of whitewater rapids and the remains of a historic quarry operation.[10]



Bear Head Lake State Park

St. Louis

Provides road access and modern camping facilities in an environment similar to the nearby Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.[11]

Bear Head Lake State Park.JPG


Beaver Creek Valley State Park


Showcases the rugged topography of the Driftless Area in a narrow valley carved by a trout stream.[12]



Big Bog State Recreation Area


Encompasses part of the largest peatland in the Lower 48 states (a National Natural Landmark) and a prime walleye fishery.[13]

Big Bog State Recreation Area.jpg


Big Stone Lake State Park

Big Stone

Protects two sections of shoreline on Big Stone Lake, the source of the Minnesota River.[14]

Big Stone Lake fishing dock.JPG


Blue Mounds State Park


Protects an escarpment of Sioux Quartzite and Minnesota's only public bison herd.[15] A district of WPA structures is on the NRHP.[16]



Buffalo River State Park


Preserves part of one of the state's largest and best tallgrass prairies.[17] A district of WPAstructures is on the NRHP.[18]

Buffalo River State Park MN.jpg


Camden State Park


Preserves a forested river valley in the midst of prairie and farm country.[19] A district of VCC and WPA structures is on the NRHP.[20]

Redwood River Camden.jpg


Carley State Park


Donated by State Senator James A. Carley to protect a stand of white pines. Used as an overflow campground for nearby Whitewater State Park.[21]



Cascade River State Park


Stretches along 10.5 miles (16.9 km) of Lake Superior coastline in land rehabilitated after construction of Minnesota State Highway 61.[22] A WPA highway wayside is on the NRHP.[6]

CascadeParkMN arf (2).JPG


Charles A. Lindbergh State Park


Contains the restored home of Congressman Charles August Lindbergh and his son Charles Lindbergh, the famous aviator.[23]The house is a National Historic Landmark, and a district of WPAstructures is on the NRHP.[24]



Crow Wing State Park

Crow WingCass, and Morrison

Interprets the site of Old Crow Wing, an important town and trading center in the mid-19th century. The town site and a section of the Red River Trails are both on the NRHP.[6][25]



Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area

Crow Wing

In development as the land is rehabilitated from open-pit iron mining. Includes Portsmouth Mine Pit Lake, the state's deepest lake.[26]

Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area Switchback Trail.jpg


Father Hennepin State Park

Mille Lacs

Provides lakeside recreation in the region visited by Father Louis Hennepin during a French expedition in 1680.[27]

Father Hennepin MNSP Marsh.JPG


Flandrau State Park


Created to provide water recreation near New Ulm.[28] Entire park is a district of CCC and WPA structures on the NRHP.[29]



Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park


Encompasses the historic townsite of Forestville, the state's longest explored cave, and three blue-ribbon trout streams.[30]



Fort Ridgely State Park

Nicollet and Renville

Surrounds Fort Ridgely, site of the Battle of Fort Ridgely during the Dakota War of 1862. The fort and a large district of CCC structures are both on the NRHP.[31][32]



Fort Snelling State Park

RamseyHennepin, and Dakota

Contains historic Fort Snelling, built in 1819, and floodplain forest in the heart of Minneapolis – Saint Paul. The fort is a National Historic Landmark and the entire park is part of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area.[33]

Fort Snelling Round Tower.JPG


Franz Jevne State Park


Features scenic property on the Canada–United States border, donated by the sons of Franz Jevne, a lawyer, on the condition that the park be named after their father.[34]

Franz Jevne State Park - Rainy River, Minnesota US-Canada Border.jpg


Frontenac State Park


Attracts 260 species of year-round and migrant birds with its variety of habitats. Includes a natural archatop a 430-foot (130 m) bluff.[35]

Mississippi River w Lake Pepin in background at Frontenac State Park.jpg


Garden Island State Recreation Area

Lake of the Woods

Comprises a nearly undeveloped island, 15 mi (24 km) from the closest mainland marinas, that once bore Native American gardens.[36]



George H. Crosby Manitou State Park


Contains undeveloped North Woodswilderness geared towards backpackers.[37]

George H. Crosby-Manitou State Park WMRT.jpg


Glacial Lakes State Park


Preserves rolling tallgrass prairieamidst the glacial landforms of the Leaf Hills Moraines.[38]



Glendalough State Park

Otter Tail

Developed from the former private retreat and game farm of the owners of the Star Tribunenewspaper, with a heritage fishery of large game fish.[39]



Gooseberry Falls State Park


Serves as the gateway to the scenic North Shore. Features five waterfalls, an agate beach, and a large district of CCC structures on the NRHP.[40][41]

Gooseberry Falls State Park 2.JPG


Grand Portage State Park


Features a 120-foot (37 m) waterfall, Minnesota's tallest, on the Canada–United States border. Co-managed with the Grand Portage Indian Reservation, the only state – tribal collaboration of a U.S. state park.[42]



Great River Bluffs State Park


Features 500-foot-high (150 m) bluffs and steep goat prairies. Formerly named O.L. Kipp State Park.[44]



Greenleaf Lake State Recreation Area


In development and open for limited day-use recreation.[45]

Greenleaf Lake State Recreation Area.jpg


Hayes Lake State Park


Provides fishing and swimming opportunities in an exclusively recreational reservoir free of agricultural runoff or water level fluctuations for irrigation or power generation.[4]:250

Hayes Lake Bog Boardwalk Hayes Lake State Park Minnesota (36305896241).jpg


Hill-Annex Mine State Park


Offers tours of a former open-pitiron mine and fossil collecting. A district of mine structures is on the NRHP.[46]

Hill-Annex Mine State Park.jpg


Interstate State Park


Created in conjunction with a state park in Wisconsin to protect a basalt gorge and glacial potholes.[47] Two districts of CCC and WPA structures are on the NRHP.[48]

Dalles Of St Croix.jpg


Iron Range Off-Highway Vehicle State Recreation Area

St. Louis

Provides 36 miles (58 km) of trails for off highway vehicles.[49]



Itasca State Park

HubbardClearwater, and Becker

Minnesota's oldest state park, which preserves the headwaters of the Mississippi River. The entire park and an individual archaeological site are on the NRHP, and a subsection is a National Natural Landmark.[50]

Mississippi River at Itasca.jpg


Jay Cooke State Park


Showcases a rocky, whitewater-strewn river churning through the North Woods.[51] Three districts of CCC and WPA structures and a long-used portage route are on the NRHP.[52]



John A. Latsch State Park


Features three steep river bluffs.[53]

John A. Latsch State Park overlook.jpg


Judge C. R. Magney State Park


Contains the Devil's Kettle, a large glacial kettle into which half of the Brule River disappears.[54]



Kilen Woods State Park


Preserves a riverside parcel of forested hills on the Coteau des Prairies.[56]

Kilen Woods State Park overlook.JPG


La Salle Lake State Recreation Area


In development around the second-deepest lake in Minnesota.[57]

La Salle Lake State Recreation Area.JPG


Lac qui Parle State Park

Lac qui Parleand Chippewa

Attracts thousands of migrating waterfowl, earning it the name "Lake that Speaks."[58] A district of WPA buildings is on the NRHP.[59]

Lac qui Parle.jpg


Lake Bemidji State Park


Features a recreational lakeshore and a spruce-tamarack bog.[60] A district of CCC and National Youth Administration structures is on the NRHP.[61]



Lake Bronson State Park


Features a reservoir created during a drought in the 1930s. A district of WPA structures is on the NRHP.[62]



Lake Carlos State Park


Preserves diverse habitats from prairie to hardwood forest to tamarack bog in a transition zone.[63] Two districts of WPAstructures are on the NRHP.[64]



Lake Louise State Park


Features a reservoir surrounded by oak savanna and patches of hardwood forest. Minnesota's oldest continuous recreation area, formerly a town park since the 1860s.[65]

Lake Louise State Park.jpg


Lake Maria State Park


Provides a lightly developed wilderness area near Minneapolis – Saint Paul in a morainal landscape of Big Woods.[66]



Lake Shetek State Park

Murray County

Features remnants of pioneer history around the largest lake in southwestern Minnesota.[67] Two districts of WPA structures are on the NRHP.[68]

Lake Shetek causeway.JPG


Lake Vermilion State Park

St. Louis

Recently purchased and in development on the fifth-largest lake in Minnesota.[69]

Lake Vermilion State Park Overlook.jpg


Maplewood State Park

Otter Tail

Preserves a forest/prairie transition zone in the Leaf Hills Moraines.[70]A Native American archaeological site is on the NRHP.



McCarthy Beach State Park

St. Louis

Features a .5-mile-long (0.80 km) beach on an isthmus between two lakes.[71]



Mille Lacs Kathio State Park

Mille Lacs

Preserves 19 identified archaeological sites dating back 9000 years. The entire park is a National Historic Landmark and four sites are individually listed on the NRHP.[6][72]



Minneopa State Park

Blue Earth

Showcases the largest waterfall in southern Minnesota. The 1864 Seppman Mill and a district of WPAstructures are each on the NRHP.[73]



Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area

HennepinDakotaScottCarverSibley, and Le Sueur

Comprises non-contiguous sections interspersed with units of the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge in the valley formed by Glacial River Warren.[74]



Monson Lake State Park


Established as a memorial to settlers who died in the Dakota War of 1862.[75] A district of CCC and WPA structures is on the NRHP.[76]

Broberg Cabin Cellar Hole.jpg


Moose Lake State Park


Provides water recreation and an exhibit hall on Lake Superior agates(the state gemstone) and the geology of Minnesota.[77]

Moose Lake Agate and Geological Interpretive Center.jpg


Myre-Big Island State Park


Features two islands with old growth hardwood forest since they were out of reach of prairie fires. Also houses one of the state's largest research collections of Native American artifacts.[78]

Myre-Big Island State Park.jpg


Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park


Preserves a remnant stand of Big Woods.[79]

Nerstrand Big Woods SP-HiddenFalls.JPG


Old Mill State Park


Features two mills and a log cabin from the late 19th Century.[80] The Larson Mill and a district of WPAstructures are each on the NRHP.[81]

Larson Mill.jpg


Red River State Recreation Area


Reclaims land devastated by the 1997 Red River Flood as part of the Greater Grand Forks Greenway, which serves the dual purpose of holding back river waters during floods and providing recreational opportunities.[82]

Red River State Recreation Area.JPG


Rice Lake State Park

Steele and Dodge

Surrounds a shallow lake which attracts migrating waterfowl.[83]



St. Croix Islands State Recreation Area


Comprises five islands near the St. Croix Boom Site that came under state control but were never developed. Leased to the Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway.[4]:318

St. Croix Islands and Boom Site.JPG


St. Croix State Park


Developed as a Recreational Demonstration Area by the CCCand the WPA to repurpose land too poor to farm. The entire park is a National Historic Landmark.[84]



Sakatah Lake State Park

Le Sueur and Rice

Features a transitional zone between prairie and Big Woods on a natural widening of the Cannon River.[85]



Savanna Portage State Park

Aitkin and St. Louis

Preserves a historically important and legendarily difficult 6-mile (9.7 km) portage over a continental divide between the watersheds of the Mississippi River and Lake Superior.[86] The portage is on theNRHP.[6]

Savanna Portage State Park.jpg


Scenic State Park


Features pristine lakes and old-growth pines. Two districts of structures built by the first CCCstate park camp in Minnesota are on the NRHP.[87]

Scenic State Park–Coon Lake.JPG


Schoolcraft State Park

Cass and Itasca

Honors Henry Schoolcraft, who charted the origins of the Mississippi River with the Ojibweguide Ozawindib. Preserves virgin pine forest that includes a white pine over 300 years old.[88]

Schoolcraft State Park kayakers.jpg


Sibley State Park


Honors Henry Hastings Sibley, the first governor of Minnesota, with a popular recreational lakeshore and a morainal landscape.[89] A district of CCC structures is on the NRHP.[90]

Sibley State Park Mt Tom Tower.jpg


Soudan Underground Mine State Park

St. Louis

Offers tours of Minnesota's oldest, deepest, and richest iron mine and a modern high energy physics laboratory. The mine is a National Historic Landmark[91] and a row of 20th Century boathouses is on the NRHP.

Soudan Mine Headframe.jpg


Split Rock Creek State Park


Features a recreational reservoir on the Coteau des Prairies.[92]

Split Rock Creek State Park in fog.jpg


Split Rock Lighthouse State Park


Surrounds the clifftop Split Rock Lighthouse, one of the most photographed lighthouses in the United States.[93] The lighthouse is a National Historic Landmark.

Splitrock lighthouse.jpg


Temperance River State Park


Showcases the deep, narrow gorge of the Temperance River (so named for its lack of a "bar" at its mouth) and Carlton Peak, a rock climbingarea.[94]

Temperance River State Park SHT Bridge.jpg


Tettegouche State Park


Encompasses the tallest waterfall within the state's borders, the iconic headlands of Palisade Head and Shovel Point, and a historic fishing camp which is on the NRHP.[95]

Lake Superior North Shore(v2).jpg


Upper Sioux Agency State Park

Yellow Medicine

Interprets the site of the agency that administered a Dakota Indian reservation until it was destroyed during the Dakota War of 1862.[96]The agency is on the NRHP.[6]

Upper Sioux Agency State Park.jpg


Whitewater State Park


Showcases a popular steep-sided river valley in the Driftless Area.[97]A large district of CCC and WPAstructures is on the NRHP.[98]

Whitewater State Park.jpg


Wild River State Park


Follows 18 miles (29 km) of one of the first waterways designated a National Wild and Scenic River.[99]A section of the Point Douglas to Superior Military Road is on the NRHP.[100]



William O'Brien State Park


Provides outdoor recreation opportunities near Minneapolis – Saint Paul.[101]

William O'Brien State Park Riverside Trail.jpg


Zippel Bay State Park

Lake of the Woods

Provides water recreation and birdwatching opportunities on the shore of the country's sixth largest lake.[102]

Zippel Bay State Park, Minnesota - Sunset on Lake of the Woods.jpg


State waysides[edit]

The state park system includes nine waysides, most of them along Minnesota State Highway 61 on the North Shore.[103] These are parcels of land too small to be full-fledged parks, but with cultural or natural resources greater than would be overseen by the Minnesota Department of Transportation as highway waysides. Generally development is limited to a parking area and a short trail; sometimes there are sanitation facilities and picnic tables as well.[4]

Wayside name





Caribou Falls State Wayside

Lake°N 91.03084°W

Includes a waterfall on the Caribou River. Formerly Caribou Falls State Park.[4]:166

Caribou Falls MN.jpg

Devils Track Falls State Wayside

Cook°N 90.28273°W

A nearly inaccessible gorge on the Devil Track River within Superior National Forest. Formerly Devils Track Falls State Park.[4]:209


Flood Bay State Wayside

Lake°N 91.64254°W

A rocky Lake Superior beach just outside Two Harbors.[4]:248

Flood Bay State Wayside.jpg

Inspiration Peak State Wayside

Otter Tail°N 95.57809°W

The highest point of the Leaf Hills Moraines.[4]:95

View from top of Inspiration Peak.jpg

Joseph R. Brown State Wayside

Renville°N 95.324425°W

The ruins of Joseph R. Brown's three-story mansion, destroyed during the Dakota War of 1862.[4]:134 The ruins are on the NRHP.[6]

Joseph R. Brown House Ruins 2.JPG

Kadunce River State Wayside

Cook°N 90.15414°W

Lake Superior shoreline around the mouth of the variably spelled Kadunce River. Formerly Kodonce River State Park.[4]:166

Kadunce River at Lake Superior, Minnesota (23625023738).jpg


Ray Berglund State Wayside

Cook°N 90.76943°W

A memorial at the mouth of the Onion River to a St. Paul businessman and conservationist, on land donated by his friends.[4]:173

Roy Berglund State Wayside.JPG


St. Croix Boom Site State Wayside

Washington°N 92.78731°W

Commemorates the site of a log boom where timber was sorted. Became a state wayside in 2016 following a facelift of facilities formerly owned by the Minnesota Department of Transportation.[105]

Boom site 3.jpg


Sam Brown Memorial State Wayside

Traverse°N 96.84141°W

Created to honor Joseph R. Brown's son Samuel J. Brown, "the Paul Revere of the West," who rode 120 miles (190 km) through a storm on April 19, 1866 to warn of an expected Dakota attack. Formerly Sam Brown State Park.[4]:88

Fort Wadsworth Agency & Scout Headquarters Building.JPG


State trails[edit]

Trail name


Length in miles[8]



Arrowhead State Trail

Tower – International Falls



Serves primarily as a winter snowmobile route, branching off the Taconite State Trail.[106]

Blazing Star State Trail

Albert Lea – Myre-Big Island State Park



Planned to continue to Austin and connect with the Shooting Star State Trail.[107]

Blufflands State Trail: Harmony-Preston Valley Segment

Harmony – Preston



Climbs out of the Root River Valley.[108]

Blufflands State Trail: Root River Segment

Fountain – Houston



Extends along the Root River.[109]

Casey Jones State Trail

Pipestone – Murray County,
Lake Shetek State Park – Currie


Partly paved

Invokes legendary train engineer Casey Jones in three unconnected segments that reflect railroad and pioneer history.[110]

Central Lakes State Trail

Osakis – Fergus Falls



Skirts a series of glacially formed lakes in Central Minnesota and connects to the Lake Wobegon Trails.[111]

Cuyuna Lakes State Trail

Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area



Wends through a regenerating open-pit mining area and connects with several mountain biking trails.[112]

Douglas State Trail

Pine Island – Rochester


Parallel paved and unpaved

Stretches through the rural scenery of a rich agricultural region.[113]

Gateway State Trail

St. Paul – Pine Point Regional Park


Paved with 10 miles (16 km) of parallel unpaved

Extends from an urban setting to a rural park near Stillwater.[114]

Gitchi-Gami State Trail

Gooseberry Falls State Park – Beaver Bay,
Schroeder – Tofte



Runs along the shore of Lake Superior in multiple unconnected segments. Planned to run continuously from Two Harbors to Grand Marais.[115]

Glacial Lakes State Trail

Hawick – Willmar


Parallel paved and unpaved

Traverses gently rolling glacial landforms.[116]

Goodhue Pioneer State Trail

Red Wing – Hay Creek Township,


Paved with some parallel unpaved

Exists in two sections, but planned to run from Red Wing to Pine Island.[117]

Great River Ridge State Trail

Plainview – Eyota


Paved with some parallel unpaved

Wends past the river bluffs of the Driftless Area.[118]

Heartland State Trail

Park Rapids – Cass Lake


Paved with some parallel unpaved

Passes through mixed northern forests, intersecting with the Paul Bunyan State Trail.[119]

Luce Line State Trail

Plymouth – Cosmos


Partly paved with some parallel unpaved[120]

Stretches from the Minneapolis suburbs out to a rural landscape.[121]

Mill Towns State Trail

Northfield – Dundas



Planned to connect the Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail in Faribault to the Cannon Valley Trail in Cannon Falls[122]

Minnesota Valley State Trail

Shakopee – Belle Plaine


Mostly unpaved

Follows the Minnesota River.[123]

North Shore State Trail

Duluth – Grand Marais



Traverses the inland backcountry of the North Shore, primarily as a winter snowmobile route.[124]

Paul Bunyan State Trail

Brainerd – Lake Bemidji State Park



Comprises one of the country's longest continuously paved trails, with a planned extension to Crow Wing State Park. Intersects with the Heartland State Trail.[125]

Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail

Faribault – Mankato


Paved with some parallel unpaved

Follows the Cannon River and passes through Sakatah Lake State Park.[126]

Shooting Star State Trail

LeRoy – Adams



Crosses open country and passes through Lake Louise State Park.[127]

Taconite State Trail

Grand Rapids – Ely


Mostly unpaved

Serves primarily as a winter snowmobile route, intersecting with the Arrowhead State Trail.[128]

Willard Munger State Trail

Hinckley – Duluth,
Wrenshall – Carlton,
Chengwatana State Forest – Holyoke



Honors state legislator and trail advocate Willard Munger with a trail system of three segments.


Other Sites of Interest


San Marcos Memories—disappearing North County San Diego, Ca


Lake San Marcos—Listing of Vendors and Other Items of Interest to LSM residents


Silly Service—38 years of Federal Civil Service Overview (A book in progress)


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