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Friday, June 21, 2024

5 Minnesota State Parks to Explore This Summer

Image by Randy Runtsch via ShutterStock

Summer is here, and Minnesota State Parks are calling your name! Each park promises unique experiences, from epic hiking trails and wildlife spotting to camping under the stars and splashing in crystal-clear lakes. Picture yourself hiking through lush forests, discovering hidden waterfalls, and enjoying peaceful lakeside picnics with your family. 

This week, we’ve handpicked five incredible parks, all recommended by Explore Minnesota, the official tourism site of Minnesota. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker or looking to unwind in nature, these state parks offer something for everyone.

It’s time to pack your bags, grab your gear, and embark on an unforgettable journey through some of Minnesota’s finest outdoor gems. Get ready for an adventure-packed summer that will have you making memories at every turn. 

Table of Contents

Minnesota State Park #1: Gooseberry Falls

Gooseberry Falls State Park along North Shore, Minnesota

Image by Sandeep Pinjerla via ShutterStock

Gooseberry Falls State Park is a highlight of Minnesota’s North Shore, offering breathtaking views and a variety of outdoor activities. The park is best known for its spectacular waterfalls, which cascade through a series of rocky gorges. 

For families, Gooseberry Falls State Park provides endless fun. Hiking trails range from easy walks to more challenging routes, making it accessible for all ages. Pack a picnic and relax by the falls, or watch wildlife as you stroll through the park. 

The trails are perfect for bird watching, with many species native to the area. To make the most of your visit, bring hiking shoes, a camera for capturing the stunning scenery, and picnic supplies for a delightful outdoor meal.

The park’s natural beauty, combined with its variety of activities, makes it an ideal destination for both adventure and relaxation. For more information on planning your visit, check out the Gooseberry Falls State Park website.

Minnesota State Park #2: Maplewood

Maplewood state park, Pelican Rapids Minnesota

Image by Stephen a wegscheid via ShutterStock

Maplewood State Park, located in west-central Minnesota, is a hidden gem known for its stunning landscapes and diverse recreational opportunities. Spanning 9,250 acres, the park features rolling hills, hardwood forests, and eight major lakes, making it a prime spot for nature lovers. 

Families will find plenty of activities to enjoy at Maplewood State Park. The park offers 25 miles of hiking trails, ideal for exploring the beautiful terrain and spotting wildlife. For those interested in water activities, the park provides boat and canoe rentals, allowing visitors to paddle across the tranquil lakes. 

When planning a trip to Maplewood State Park, be sure to pack the essentials. Hiking boots are a must for the numerous trails, and a camera is essential for capturing the stunning vistas. If you plan to fish or enjoy water activities, bring along your fishing gear and appropriate attire. 

Visiting Maplewood State Park offers numerous benefits, from the joy of outdoor adventures to the serenity of its natural settings. For more details about this wonderful area, you can visit Maplewood State Park’s official page.

Minnesota State Park #3: Itasca

Itasca State Park contains the Headwaters of the Mississippi River and is located in northern Minnesota

Image by Jacob Boomsma via ShutterStock

Itasca State Park is not just Minnesota’s oldest state park, it’s a living, breathing piece of history. Established in 1891, this park covers over 32,000 acres and is famously known as the birthplace of the Mississippi River. It is also home to beautiful old-growth pine forests and serene lakes that offer a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

When it comes to activities, Itasca State Park has something for everyone. Families can enjoy a leisurely walk across the headwaters of the Mississippi, an experience that kids and adults alike will remember for years. For those who love to explore, the park’s extensive network of trails is perfect for hiking and biking, catering to both beginners and experienced adventurers. 

Packing for a trip to Itasca State Park is straightforward but essential for a great experience. Comfortable hiking boots are a must for navigating the trails. Don’t forget a camera to capture the stunning scenery and binoculars for those close-up views of the diverse wildlife. 

The allure of Itasca State Park lies not just in its historical significance, but also in its ability to offer diverse activities and a peaceful escape. To start planning your visit, head to the Itasca State Park website.

Minnesota State Park #4: Mille Lacs Kathio 

Mille Lacs LakeImage by John Brueske via ShutterStock

Mille Lacs Kathio State Park offers a journey through time and nature, making it a standout destination in central Minnesota. It is a National Historic Landmark, showcasing over 9,000 years of human history alongside its beautiful natural landscapes. The park features dense forests, expansive wetlands, and numerous lakes, providing a tranquil escape into nature. 

Bird watching here is exceptional, with diverse species inhabiting the park’s rich ecosystems. Camping options are plentiful, from basic tent sites to cozy camper cabins, making it easy to find the perfect spot to enjoy the great outdoors. Fishing on Rum River and Shakopee Lake is another favorite activity, with convenient boat access points available.

Binoculars can enhance your bird-watching experience, allowing you to observe the wildlife in detail. If you’re planning to camp, bring all necessary camping equipment to take advantage of the park’s excellent facilities. And of course, don’t forget your fishing gear for a relaxing day on the water.

Whether you’re here to hike, camp, watch birds, or fish, Mille Lacs Kathio promises a rich and rewarding experience. Discover more and plan your visit by checking out the Mille Lacs Kathio State Park website.

Minnesota State Park #5: Lake Bemidji

Bemidji State park shares Lake Bemidji with the town of Bemidji in northern Minnesota

Image by Jacob Boomsma via ShutterStock

Lake Bemidji State Park, situated on the northern shores of Lake Bemidji, offers a blend of natural beauty and recreational activities perfect for family adventures. Known for its stunning sunsets and diverse landscapes, the park features expansive forests, winding trails, and a unique bog walk that introduces visitors to the fascinating ecosystem of a spruce-tamarack bog. 

Hiking and biking on the well-maintained trails provide an excellent way to explore the park’s scenic beauty. Water enthusiasts can rent canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards to venture out onto Lake Bemidji, while anglers can try their luck fishing from the shore or a rented boat. 

To make the most of your visit to Lake Bemidji, pack accordingly. Comfortable shoes are essential for hiking and biking the trails. A daypack is useful for carrying water, snacks, and other essentials. If you plan to engage in water activities, bringing a kayak or canoe can enhance your experience

Visiting Lake Bemidji State Park offers numerous benefits. The park’s scenic lake views and diverse outdoor activities provide a perfect setting for relaxation and adventure. Wildlife spotting, particularly of eagles and ospreys, adds an exciting element to your visit. To plan your visit, check out the Lake Bemidji State Park page.

Final Thoughts

A welcome sign at the Minnesota state line.

Image by Katherine Welles via ShutterStock

Exploring Minnesota State Parks this summer is an adventure you don’t want to miss as each park offers unique experiences that cater to every type of outdoor enthusiast. They are perfect for families, adventurers, and nature lovers looking to immerse themselves in Minnesota’s natural beauty.

Better yet, you can explore these parks in style with a versatile, functional, affordable trailer from Space Trailers.

space trailers with open canopy

Based in Red Wing, Minnesota, Space Trailers are crafted to handle the rugged terrain and unpredictable weather that comes with exploring these Minnesota parks. Because these versatile trailers are designed with adventure in mind, making them an ideal companion for camping trips and outdoor activities. 

These trailers are not only built for tough conditions but also offer customizable options to suit your specific needs. For example, you can configure your trailer to carry kayaks to explore Minnesota’s many lakes, bikes to ride through the state parks’ gorgeous landscapes, or to haul gear inside the generously-sized bed (which is covered and lockable!).

space trailers functionality

Investing in a Space Trailer means you can carry all your gear efficiently and securely, enhancing your camping experience in any of Minnesota’s beautiful state parks. If you’re planning your next adventure, check out our detailed review on Space Trailers here for a deep dive into why these trailers are so unique.

Whether you’re hiking the trails, enjoying water activities, or camping under the stars, Minnesota State Parks offer endless opportunities for fun and relaxation. For more detailed information on each park and additional recommendations, visit the reference article on Explore Minnesota.

A quick heads-up: If you snag something through our affiliate links or check out our sponsored content, we might earn a commission at no extra cost to you. But fear not, we’re all about recommending stuff we’re truly stoked about!

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