Minnesota State Parks Guide

Minnesota State Parks Guide

As you may have guessed, we really love hiking and camping :)

We like being able to plan out our weekend trips ahead of time – especially when it comes to weekend trips to State Parks in our great state of Minnesota. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website provides a wealth of information regarding all 78 of the Minnesota State Parks, including information on hiking trails, camping, recreation facilities and maps.

However, we had trouble making our weekend plan decisions without all this information in one spot. So we developed this convenient table that summarizes most of this information.

Park NameSize of Park (acres)Body of WaterCity NearBackpack SitesCanoe SitesWalk-in (Cart-in) SitesDrive-in SitesTotal Hiking Trail Distance (mi)DNR Description
Afton State Park 1,600 St. Croix River Afton 20 1 0 0 20 Lies on a glacial moraine with deep ravines that drop 300 feet down to the St. Croix River
Banning State Park 597 Kettle River Sandstone 0 4 0 33 17 Contains 1.5 miles of whitewater rapids and the remains of a historic quarry operation
Bear Head Lake State Park 3,013 Bear Head Lake Ely 4 2 0 73 17 Provides road access and modern camping facilities in an environment similar to the nearby Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness
Beaver Creek Valley State Park 715 East Beaver Creek La Crosse 0 0 6 42 8 Showcases the rugged topography of the Driftless Area in a narrow valley carved by a trout stream
Big Bog State Recreation Area 9,170 Red Lake, Tamarac River Bemidji 0 0 0 31 4.5 Encompasses part of the largest peatland in the Lower 48 state and a prime walleye fishery
Big Stone Lake State Park 980 Big Stone Lake Morris 0 0 0 37 3 Protects two sections of shoreline on Big Stone Lake, the source of the Minnesota River
Blue Mounds State Park 1,567 Mound Creek Worthington 0 0 14 73 13 Protects an escarpment of Sioux Quartzite and Minnesota's only public bison herd. A district of WPA structures is on the NRHP
Buffalo River State Park 1,068 Buffalo River Fargo 0 0 0 44 12 Preserves one of the state's largest and best tallgrass prairies together with an adjacent property of The Nature Conservancy. A district of WPA structures is on the NRHP
Camden State Park 1,855 Redwood River Marshall 0 0 0 80 16 Preserves a forested river valley in the midst of prairie and farm country. A district of VCC and WPA structures is on the NRHP
Carley State Park 209 Whitewater River Rochester 0 0 0 20 5 Donated by State Senator James A. Carley to protect a stand of white pines. Used as an overflow campground for nearby Whitewater State Park
Cascade River State Park 2,867 Lake Superior and Cascade River Lutsen 5 0 0 40 18 Stretches along 10.5 miles of Lake Superior coastline in land rehabilitated after construction of Minnesota State Highway 61. A WPA highway wayside is on the NRHP.
Charles A. Lindbergh State Park 417 Mississippi River Little Falls 0 0 2 38 7 Contains the restored home of Congressman Charles August Lindbergh and his son Charles Lindbergh, the famous aviator. The house is a National Historic Landmark, and a district of WPA structures is on the NRHP
Crow Wing State Park 2,335 Mississippi and Crow Wing Rivers Brainerd 0 0 0 59 18 Interprets the site of Old Crow Wing, an important town and trading center in the mid-19th century. The entire park is on the NRHP
Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area 6,850 Chain of small lakes and streams, filled pit mines Brainerd 0 0 0 25 6+ (paved) In development as the land is rehabilitated from open-pit iron mining. Includes Portsmouth Mine Pit Lake, the state's deepest lake
Father Hennepin State Park 275 Mille Lacs Lake Mille Lacs 0 0 0 103 4.5 Provides lakeside recreation in the region visited by Father Louis Hennepin during a French expedition in 1680
Flandrau State Park 840 Cottonwood River New Ulm 0 0 3 92 8 Created to provide water recreation near New Ulm. Entire park is a district of CCC and WPA structures on the NRHP
Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park 3,163 South Branch Root River and tributaries Rochester 0 0 0 73 17 Encompasses the historic townsite of Forestville, the state's longest explored cave, and three blue-ribbon trout streams
Fort Ridgely State Park 537 Fort Ridgely Creek Sleepy Eye 0 0 3 31 8 Surrounds Fort Ridgely, site of the Battle of Fort Ridgely during the Dakota War of 1862. Includes the only golf course in a Minnesota state park and a large district of CCC structures on the NRHP
Fort Snelling State Park 1,825 Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers St Paul None       18 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
Franz Jevne State Park 118 Rainy River International Falls 0 0 3 18 2.5 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
Frontenac State Park 2,226 Lake Pepin on Mississippi River Red Wing 0 0 6 58 13 Attracts 260 species of year-round and migrant birds with its variety of habitats. Includes a natural arch atop a 430 ft bluff
Garden Island State Recreation Area 715 Lake of the Woods Lake of the Woods None       0 Comprises a nearly undeveloped island, 15 mi from the closest mainland marinas, that once bore Native American gardens
George H. Crosby Manitou State Park 6,200 Manitou River Silver Bay (North Shore) 21 0 0 0 24 Contains undeveloped North Woods wilderness geared towards backpackers
Glacial Lakes State Park 1,857 Several kettle lakes Glenwood 4 0 0 37 16 Preserves rolling tallgrass prairie amidst the glacial landforms of the Leaf Hills Moraines
Glendalough State Park 1,924 Six kettle lakes Fergus Falls 0 2 22 0 9 Developed from the former private retreat and game farm of the owners of the Star Tribune newspaper, with a heritage fishery of large game fish
Gooseberry Falls State Park 1,741 Lake Superior, Gooseberry River Two Harbors 0 0 0 69 20 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
Grand Portage State Park 278 Pigeon River Grand Portage None       4 Features a 120-foot 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
Great River Bluffs State Park 2,122 Mississippi River Winona 0 0 4 (bike-in) 31 9 Features 500-foot-high bluffs and steep goat prairies. Formerly named O.L. Kipp State Park
Hayes Lake State Park 2,118 Hayes Lake, North Fork Roseau River Roseau 2 0 0 35 13 Provides fishing and swimming opportunities in an exclusively recreational reservoir free of agricultural runoff or water level fluctuations for irrigation or power generation
Hill-Annex Mine State Park 634 Filled pit mine Grand Rapids None       0 Offers tours of a former open-pit iron mine and fossil collecting. A district of mine structures is on the NRHP
Interstate State Park 288 St. Croix River Taylors Falls 0 0 0 37 6 Created in conjunction with a state park in Wisconsin to protect a basalt gorge and glacial potholes. Two districts of CCC and WPA structures are on the NRHP
Itasca State Park 3,553 Lake Itasca Park Rapids 11 0 11 223 52 Minnesota's oldest state park, which preserves the headwaters of the Mississippi River. The entire park is on the NRHP for numerous prehistoric to 20th Century sites. An area of the park is a National Natural Landmark
Jay Cooke State Park 8,125 Saint Louis River Cloquet 4 0 3 79 50 Showcases a rocky, whitewater-strewn river churning through the North Woods. Three districts of CCC and WPA structures are on the NRHP
John A. Latsch State Park 409 Mississippi River Wabasha None       0.5 Features three steep river bluffs
Judge C. R. Magney State Park 4,323 Lake Superior, Brule River Grand Marais 0 0 0 27 9 Contains the geologically unexplained Devil's Kettle, a large glacial kettle into which half of the Brule River disappears
Kilen Woods State Park 202 Des Moines River Worthington 0 0 4 33 5 Preserves a riverside parcel of forested hills on the Coteau des Prairies
Lac qui Parle State Park 897 Lac qui Parle, Minnesota and Lac qui Parle Rivers Benson 0 0 3 67 7 Attracts thousands of migrating waterfowl, earning it the name "Lake that Speaks." A district of WPA buildings is on the NRHP
Lake Bemidji State Park 1,653 Lake Bemidji Bemidji 0 0 0 95 15 Features a recreational lakeshore and a spruce-tamarack bog. A district of CCC and National Youth Administration structures is on the NRHP
Lake Bronson State Park 2,806 Lake Bronson, South Branch Two Rivers Thief River Falls 3 2 0 152 14 Features a reservoir created during a drought in the 1930s. A district of WPA structures is on the NRHP
Lake Carlos State Park 1,175 Lake Carlos Alexandria 0 0 0 121 14 Preserves diverse habitats from prairie to hardwood forest to tamarack bog in a transition zone. Two areas of WPA structures are on the NRHP
Lake Louise State Park 849 Lake Louise, Upper and Little Iowa Rivers Austin 0 0 0 20 12 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
Lake Maria State Park 1,475 Several kettle lakes Monticello 17 0 0 0 14 Provides a lightly developed wilderness area near Minneapolis – Saint Paul in a morainal landscape of Big Woods
Lake Shetek State Park 1,109 Lake Shetek Marshall 0 0 8 70 14 Features remnants of pioneer history around the largest lake in southwestern Minnesota. A district of WPA structures is on the NRHP
Lake Vermilion State Park 2,875 Lake Vermilion Viginia None       ? Recently purchased and in development on the fifth-largest lake in Minnesota
Maplewood State Park 8,127 Several kettle lakes Pelican Rapids 3 0 0 71 25 Preserves a forest/prairie transition zone in the Leaf Hills Moraines. A Native American archaeological site is on the NRHP
McCarthy Beach State Park 1,908 Sturgeon and Side Lakes Hibbing 0 0 3 86 18 Features a .5-mile-long beach on an isthmus between two lakes
Mille Lacs Kathio State Park 9,786 Mille Lacs Lake, Rum River Mille Lacs 4 0 3 70 35 Preserves 19 identified archaeological sites dating back 9000 years. The entire park is a National Historic Landmark
Minneopa State Park 1,617 Minnesota River, Minneopa Creek Mankato 0 0 0 61 4.5 Showcases the largest waterfall in southern Minnesota. The 1864 Seppman Mill and a district of WPA structures are each on the NRHP
Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area 6,442 Minnesota River Chaska 0 0 8 25 47 Comprises non-contiguous sections interspersed with units of the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge in the valley formed by Glacial River Warren
Monson Lake State Park 343 Monson and West Sunberg Lakes Willmar 0 0 0 20 1 Established as a memorial to settlers who died in the Dakota War of 1862. A district of CCC and WPA structures is on the NRHP
Moose Lake State Park 829 Moosehead and Echo Lakes Moose Lake 0 0 2 33 5 Provides water recreation and an exhibit hall on Lake Superior agates (the state gemstone) and the geology of Minnesota
Myre-Big Island State Park 1,578 Albert Lea Lake Albert Lea 4 0 0 93 16 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
Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park 1,646 Prairie Creek Fairbault 0 0 4 51 11 Preserves a remnant stand of Big Woods
Old Mill State Park 287 Middle River Thief River Falls 0 0 0 26 7 Features two mills and a log cabin from the late 19th Century. The Larson Mill and a district of WPA structures are each on the NRHP
Red River State Recreation Area 104 Red River of the North and Red Lake River Grand Forks 0 0 4 109 7 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
Rice Lake State Park 712 Rice Lake Owatonna 0 5 9 42 5 Surrounds a shallow lake which attracts migrating waterfowl
St. Croix State Park 31,775 St. Croix River Hinckley 2 10 4 211 127 Developed as a Recreational Demonstration Area by the CCC and the WPA to repurpose land too poor to farm. The entire park is a National Historic Landmark
Sakatah Lake State Park 810 Sakatah Lake on the Cannon River Fairbault 0 0 5 (bike-in) 62 5 Features a transitional zone between prairie and Big Woods on a natural widening of the Cannon River
Savanna Portage State Park 15,227 East and West Savanna Rivers, numerous kettle lakes McGregor 6 1 0 61 27 Preserves a historically important and legendarily difficult 6-mile portage over a continental divide between the watersheds of the Mississippi River and Lake Superior
Scenic State Park 2,370 Sandwick and Coon Lakes Grand Rapids 2 5 0 93 14 Features pristine lakes and old-growth pines. Two districts of structures built by the first CCC state park camp in Minnesota are on the NRHP
Schoolcraft State Park 141 Mississippi River Grand Prapids 0 2 0 28 2 Honors Henry Schoolcraft, who charted the origins of the Mississippi River with the Ojibwe guide Ozawindib. Preserves virgin pine forest that includes a white pine over 300 years old
Sibley State Park 2,540 Lake Andrew and other kettle lakes New London 0 0 0 132 18 Honors Henry Hastings Sibley, the first governor of Minnesota, with a popular recreational lakeshore and a morainal landscape. A district of CCC structures is on the NRHP
Soudan Underground Mine State Park 974 Lake Vermilion Ely None       5 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
Split Rock Creek State Park 947 Split Rock Lake Luverne 0 0 0 34 7 Features a recreational reservoir on the Coteau des Prairies
Split Rock Lighthouse State Park 2,112 Lake Superior, Split Rock River Two Harbors 4 0 20 0 12 Surrounds the clifftop Split Rock Lighthouse, one of the most photographed lighthouses in the United States. The lighthouse is a National Historic Landmark and the Madeira shipwreck is on the NRHP.
Temperance River State Park 1,134 Lake Superior, Temperance and Cross Rivers Silver Bay (North Shore) 0 0 6 52 22 Showcases the deep, narrow gorge of the Temperance River and Carlton Peak, a rock climbing area
Tettegouche State Park 8,998 Lake Superior and Baptism River Silver Bay (North Shore) 5 0 19 28 23 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
Upper Sioux Agency State Park 1,065 Minnesota and Yellow Medicine Rivers Granite Falls 0 0 3 34 18 Interprets the site of the agency that administered a Dakota Indian reservation until it was destroyed during the Dakota War of 1862
Whitewater State Park 1,672 Whitewater River Winona 0 0 6 104 10 Showcases a popular steep-sided river valley in the Driftless Area. A large district of CCC and WPA structures is on the NRHP
Wild River State Park 6,574 St. Croix River North Branch 7 4 0 96 35 Follows 18 miles of one of the first waterways designated a National Wild and Scenic River
William O'Brien State Park 1,783 St. Croix River Scandia 0 0 0 120 12 Provides outdoor recreation opportunities near Minneapolis – Saint Paul
Zippel Bay State Park 2,826 Lake of the Woods Lake of the Woods 0 0 0 57 6 Provides water recreation and birdwatching opportunities on the shore of the country's sixth largest lake

 

Now get out and enjoy your weekend!