Sibley Lake

10 Of The Best Minnesota State Parks You Need To Visit This Summer

Minnesota is not just the land of 10,000 lakes, it has some pretty great state parks as well. When you live in Minnesota, there are endless possibilities for the things you can do and see. Visiting some of the state parks is a great way to get outdoors, see some amazing sights, and have fun. Here you will find 10 of the best Minnesota parks to visit this summer.

Old Mill State Park

Photot by Erick Austin CC By 2.0
Photo by Erick Austin CC By 2.0

The Old Mill State Park has something for everyone. There are historic sites that you can tour which include a log cabin and the grist mill, which is a steam-powered flour mill. The flour mill is still started up and used once a year to grind flour.

The park is perfect for those that enjoy the outdoors and wildlife. The wooded trails are a great place to go for a walk and keep an eye out for wildlife and the colorful wildflowers in the prairie. After going for a walk, you may consider heading to the picnic grounds for a bite to eat and then spend some time in the swimming area or go on the swinging bridge that stretches over the Middle River. Camping is available as well if you’d like to make a weekend of it.

Hayes Lake State Park

Visitors in this park can enjoy swimming or canoeing in the lake, as well as fish. The lake has crappie, sunfish, northern, and largemouth bass. While you are out on the lake you may be able to catch a glimpse of a loon or possibly a moose. For those that love bird watching, this is the place for you. Over 200 species of birds have been spotted here. There is a dam on the lake where you may be able to see beavers at work.

A variety of trails run through or start in this park. You can go for a hike, walk, bike ride, or even take your horse for a ride on these trails. While on the trails, you can take in the beauty of the area and possibly see some of the wildlife.

48990 County Road 4
Roseau, MN 56751
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Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine State Park

Photot by Essayru CC By 2.0
Photo by Essayru CC By 2.0

There is so much to do and see at this park. You can take a tour of the high energy physics lab or the historic underground mine, take a boat out on the lake for some fun, or do some fishing. You may also decide to do some swimming or go for a hike through the acres of old growth pine trees.

If you are looking to see more of the history that the park has to offer, you could take a look at the various historic buildings and archeological sites. The sites include rock quarries, historical rice pits, and mining test pits. For your convenience, you can pick up a map of the state park which will show you where all of the sites are.

1302 McKinley Park Road
Soudan, MN
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Temperance River State Park

Temerance River State Park

You could start your visit by walking the trail that follows the edge of the Temperance River gorge. Here you will be able to take in the beauty of the landscape as well as the waterfall. As if this were not enough beauty to take in for one day, you can find more while enjoying a picnic or even camping along the shore of Lake Superior.

The newest addition to the park is Carlton Peak which offers rock climbing to those that are looking for some exciting recreation. You may also want to take some time to do some fishing while you are at the park.

7620 West Hwy 61
Schroeder, MN 55613
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Sibley State Park

Sibley Lake

There is something for everyone at this park. You could hike up Mount Tom, with an elevation of 1,375 feet, and get an amazing view of farmland, forests, lakes, and prairies. Mount Tom is one of only several high points within a 50-mile radius.

While in Sibley State Park, you may want to spend some time at Lake Andrew swimming, fishing, or boating. Canoeing is a popular pastime for visitors in the park as well. When you are done in the water, you could have a picnic in the picnic area or play on the playground.

800 Sibley Park Road Northeast
New London, MN 56273
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Fort Snelling State Park

Fort Snelling State Park

Fort Snelling State Park offers extensive trails that are great for biking or hiking. These trails link to both Minnehaha Park and Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. You could also take the trails up to Fort Snelling which is a historic site that will give you a look into military life in the 1820s.

Gun Club Lake is perfect for canoeing, Snelling Lake is just right for swimming, and for those looking to play golf, it can be found here. You may also want to visit the Thomas C Salvage Visitor Center where you can find background on the history of the park.

101 Snelling Lake Road
St. Paul, MN 55111
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Camden State Park

There are many things to enjoy at this park. Get out the fishing poles and fish for bluegill or bass in Brawner Lake or brown trout in the Redwood River. There is a spring fed pool where you can go for a swim, Brawner Lake is great for canoeing, or walk the Dakota Valley Trail leading to the lookout which gives you a beautiful view.

When you are ready for a bite to eat, there is a picnic area that continues to give you a great view of the landscape of the park. If you would like to make a weekend out of it, there is camping available.

1897 Camden Park Road
Lynd, MN 56157
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Lake Shetek State Park

Lake Shetek

While visiting this park, you can swim, fish, boat, canoe, and kayak on the largest lake in southwestern Minnesota. While on the lake, you can do some bird watching and take in the beauty of the local birds. After spending some time on the lake, you can take the time to visit the Koch Cabin, which was the home of one of the earliest settlers in the area.

You can take a walk to Loon Island, which is accessible on foot. Loon Island gives you the chance to walk the trail and take in the sites that the 45-acre island has to offer.

163 State Park Road
Currie, MN 56123
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Great River Bluffs State Park

The bluffs are one of the greatest things about this park. There are two different bluffs within the park that will give you a magnificent view of the Mississippi River Valley. If you have binoculars, you should bring them. You will be able to see a wide variety of birds, including the beautiful eagle.

The trails are a great place to go for a hike and take in the beauty of the area. There is a wide variety of trees within the forest that includes oak, hickory, and maple. Other vegetation includes pine plantations, goat prairies, and fields. There is a variety of wildlife that can be seen while hiking as well, such as wild turkeys, ruffed grouse, coyotes, and many songbirds.

43605 Kipp Drive
Winona, MN 55987
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Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park

Photo by jnaithani CC By 2.0
Photo by jnaithani CC By 2.0

The park is full of natural wonders both above and below ground. While visiting, you can take a tour of Mystery Cave with its underground pools, stalagmites, and stalactites. You may want to bring a jacket, the temperature within the cave is constantly at 48 degrees Fahrenheit. Above ground, you can take a stroll through a village from the 1800s that has been restored. It is a great place to take in some history and see how people used to live.

If fishing is what you enjoy most, you can go to one of three streams within the park and fish for brown trout. You can go on a hike and take in the natural beauty of the flowers, watch for wildlife, such as ruffed grouse and wild turkeys, and see some great geological features that include sinkholes and the Big Spring.

21071 County 118
Preston, MN 55965
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