Minnesota is a state with diverse landscapes that are reflected in the state park system. The state offers so much, from prairies to lakeside vistas, especially outdoor activities. One of the incredible things about the state parks in Minnesota is that they are great for all seasons and many are a winter wonderland for cross-country skiers.
Whether you want to escape city life and relax in nature, go hiking, camping, fishing, canoeing, or discover somewhere you have never been to, these Minnesota state parks are great. Through Minnesota’s state parks, you will feel like you’ve found part of America’s hidden beauty.
- Minnesota State Parks
- 20 State Parks In Minnesota To Explore
- 1- Maplewood State Park
- 2- Whitewater State Park
- 3- Father Hennepin State Park
- 4- Blue Mounds State Park
- 5- Grand Portage State Park
- 6- Interstate State Park
- 7- Buffalo River State Park
- 8- Bear Head Lake State Park
- 9- Crow Wing State Park
- 10- Split Rock Lighthouse State Park
- 11- Jay Cooke State Park
- 12- Gooseberry Falls State Park
- 13- Itasca State Park
- 14- Banning State Park
- 15- Great River Bluffs State Park
- 16- Lake Maria State Park
- 17- Tettegouche State Park
- 18- Zippel Bay State Park
- 19- Minneopa State Park
- 20- Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine State Park
- 20 State Parks In Minnesota To Explore
Minnesota State Parks
20 State Parks In Minnesota To Explore
1- Maplewood State Park
Maplewood state park is a beautiful Minnesota park surrounded by maple trees and is ideal for visiting during autumn when an explosion of colour awaits you.
Maplewood state park is in western Minnesota, around three hours northwest of Minneapolis.
This place is excellent for fishing, canoeing and renting boats, with eight lakes in the 9,250-acre (3743 ha) park.
Beautiful forests surround the park’s many lakes, which are also home to wildlife and 25 miles (40 km) of park trails.
Or if you’d rather have a horse ride, there are as many trails for your four-legged friends.
There are snowmobile trails and a 5-mile (8 km) cross-country skiing route in winter.
Maplewood State Park is at 39721 Park Entrance Rd, Pelican Rapids, MN 56572.
2- Whitewater State Park
Whitewater State Park is in the southeastern corner of Minnesota, 25 miles (40 km) from Rochester and close to the Mississippi River.
The park is known as Minnesota’s bluff lands and is on the banks of the Whitewater River.
Trout Run Creek is one of the park’s most popular attractions and is ideal for fishing.
You can swim at Whitewater River beach but get a little sweaty with one of the limestone bluff hiking trails before cooling off in the water.
While hiking, definitely check out Chimney Rock for its breathtaking birds-eye view of the surrounding natural landscape.
If you want to stay overnight at Whitewater state park, perhaps as part of a road trip, there are many camping spots and camper cabins.
Whitewater State Park is at 19041 MN-74, Altura, MN 55910, United States.
3- Father Hennepin State Park
This state park is great for outdoor fun on the southeast shores of Mille Lacs Lake and around 96 miles north of Minneapolis.
The park is 320 acres (129 ha), with a lovely sandy beach, boat access, fishing piers and picnic sites.
If you fancy camping, then stay at either of their two campgrounds.
Hiking trails wind along the shores of Mille Lacs Lake and through the hardwood forest.
Father Hennepin State Park is at 41296 Father Hennepin Park Rd, Isle, MN 56342.
4- Blue Mounds State Park
Tucked away in the southwest corner of Minnesota is Blue Mounds State Park, which sits on the highest point in the south of Wisconsin.
The 100 feet (31 m) Sioux quartzite cliff within the park is its defining feature.
If you visit June and July, you may also see bison in the park, which graze on the prairie and cactus blooms.
There are 20 miles (32 km) of hiking, biking and cross-country skiing trails to enjoy the park and access to Wisconsin’s 40-mile (64 km) Military Ridge State Trail.
To stay overnight, head to the park’s family campground, with rustic cabins for a little more comfort.
Blue Mound State Park is at 4350 Mounds Park Rd, Blue Mounds, WI 53517.
5- Grand Portage State Park
Grand Portage State Park is one of Minnesota’s most amazing state parks.
It’s right on the border with Ontario, Canada and a 15-minute drive from the easternmost point of Minnesota on Lake Superior.
The Pigeon River borders the park and forms part of the US/Canada border.
High Falls at Grand Portage is the highest in the state and is easily accessible via a half-mile paved trail.
You can also hike to Middle Falls along a 3.5-mile hiking trail.
At Middle Falls, you can enjoy stunning views from the ridgetop of Lake Superior and Canada.
From hiking to photography, picnicking and gazing at cascading waterfalls, this is an excellent Minnesota park to explore, along with the adjacent Grand Portage National Monument.
The monument is a historic site commemorating the fur trade era and traditional Ojibwe culture.
Though you can visit the park year-round, the fall colours are utterly breathtaking surrounding the waterfall.
Grand Portage State Park is at 9393 E, MN-61, Grand Portage, MN 55605.
6- Interstate State Park
Interstate State Park is on the St Croix River bordering Wisconsin and is one of those parks with plenty to see and do.
First, you’ve got to climb the St. Croix River Dalles cliffs for a beautiful view of the area.
Next up, head down to the water and canoe along the river.
The adventurous and experienced will relish kayaking the rapids, but if you’re not game, watching them and taking photographs is just as fun.
Take one of the park’s excursion boats if you want something slower-paced.
Though the forest’s beautiful spring flowers and fall foliage attract visitors at these times of the year, the park is great to visit in all seasons.
It’s a wonder for geological enthusiasts, with around 10 lava flows, valleys, faults, and glacial deposits.
During summer, you can discover the glacial potholes along the hiking trails.
Pack a lunch and make a day of it at one of the park’s picnic spots.
Interstate State Park is at 1275 WI-35, St Croix Falls, WI 54024.
7- Buffalo River State Park
Buffalo River State Park showcases the best of Minnesota’s beautiful prairies.
This state park is in western Minnesota is a 25-minute drive east of the North Dakotan city of Fargo.
The glacial beach ridge is one of the park’s most popular features.
Here you can go hiking along the 12 miles of trails.
The nature trails along the river allow spotting various incredible wildlife, especially birds.
An excellent swimming area along the Buffalo River is a perfect spot to cool off in the summer heat.
There is also a campground in the hardwood forest in case you fancy staying a few nights.
Buffalo River State Park is at 565 155th St S, Glyndon, MN 56547.
8- Bear Head Lake State Park
Northern Minnesota is beautiful, and Bear Head Lake State Park is no exception.
Many lakes surround the whole area.
The lakes around this state park all have the same name, Eagles Nest Lake, followed by a number because there are so many.
This state park is sandwiched between Eagles Nest Lake Number Three and Eagles Nest Lake Number Four.
Whether you are into canoeing, fishing or hiking, there’s something for everyone at this Minnesota state park.
17 miles (27 km) of hiking trails loop around the park and along the water’s edge.
Head there in winter for a completely different experience, and you can adventure along the cross-country and snowmobile trails.
You can camp in the park, book an RV campsite or for something a little more comfortable, there are camper cabins and bunk beds too.
Bear Head State Park is at 9301 Bear Head State Park Rd, Ely, MN 55731.
9- Crow Wing State Park
Crow Wing State Park is around 9 miles (14 km) outside Brainerd in central Minnesota.
You can walk along the Red River Ox Cart Trail at this state park and discover the remains of the once-prosperous town of Old Crow Wing.
This state park is at the confluence of the Crow Wing and Mississippi Rivers.
18 miles (29 km) of trails are well marked and many have interpretive signs where you can read up about the park.
Keep an eye out for Beaulieu House.
If biking is more your thing, then you can head out along the 6.5 miles (10.5 km) of bike trails which also connect with the Paul Bunyan State Trail, which is 115 miles (185 km) long.
You can also enjoy canoeing, fishing and access to the river to splash around.
There is also a campground equipped with modern showers and electric hookups.
Crow Wing State Park is at 3124 State Pk Rd, Brainerd, MN 56401.
10- Split Rock Lighthouse State Park
Split Rock Lighthouse State Park is in northern Minnesota along the banks of Lake Superior, around 20 miles (32 km) north of Two Harbors.
There are 12 miles (19 km) of hiking trails to enjoy, many of which provide excellent views of Lake Superior.
The park also connects you to the Gitchi-Gami State Trail, which, when complete, will be 86 miles (137 km) long.
In winter, you can snowshoe, and bike trails are popular during other seasons.
The stream running through the park is an excellent place to fish.
Split Rock Lighthouse State Park is at 3755 Split Rock Lighthouse Rd, Two Harbors, MN 55616.
11- Jay Cooke State Park
Jay Cooke State Park is a lovely park in east Minnesota, with around 50 miles (80 km) of hiking trails, 8 miles (12.8 km) of biking and 6 miles (9.6 km) of horse trails.
In winter, 34 miles (55 km) of intermediate cross-country ski trails and 8 miles (12.8km) of snowmobile trails keep winter sports enthusiasts happy.
Whether you visit in winter or during other seasons, you’ll find many things to see, from vantage points to forests.
Be sure to head to the swinging bridge over the rocky river gorge.
There are camping spots for tents, RVs, and five camper cabins.
Jay Cooke State Park is at 780 MN-210, Carlton, MN 55718, United States.
12- Gooseberry Falls State Park
Gooseberry Falls State Park is on Lake Superior, close to Two Harbors.
This state park has stunning vistas and majestic waterfalls.
If you want to get active in Gooseberry Falls State Park, head out on the 20 miles (32 km) of hiking trails.
If you visit in winter, the 12 miles of cross-country skiing trails or the two-mile snowmobile trail will delight you.
Many of the trails run alongside the Gooseberry River and through mixed forests.
The Gooseberry Falls is the park’s main attraction.
The falls consist of the upper, middle and lower falls, and you can walk to each of them in turn.
You can take another trail that loops around to reach Fifth Falls.
Gooseberry Falls State Park is at 3206 MN-61, Two Harbors, MN 55616.
13- Itasca State Park
Around 25 minutes drive outside of Park Rapids is Itasca State Park.
The park dates back to 1891, making it Minnesota’s oldest state park.
The park is a whopping 32,000 acres (12,949 ha) and is home to significant points of interest, including Preacher’s Grove, Peace Pipe Vista and over 100 lakes of varying sizes.
Because of all of the water, this state park in Minnesota is a great place for birding.
See if you can spot the common loon, black-backed woodpecker, alder flycatcher, and winter wren.
The park offers opportunities to fish, hike and explore the shoreline of Lake Superior.
Itasca State Park is at 36750 Main Park Drive, Park Rapids, MN 56470.
14- Banning State Park
Banning State Park is around an hour and 20 minutes drive north of Minneapolis in eastern Minnesota off I-35.
In spring, you’ll enjoy watching the adventurous canoeists and kayakers taking on the rapids at Blueberry Slide, Dragon’s Tooth, Hell’s Gate and Mother’s Delight.
There are 17 miles (27 km) of incredible hikes, some of which go along the Kettle River, where you can take in the geological wonders of the sandstone rock formations speckled with lichens and mosses.
The park is also home to Wolf Creek Falls, Long Creek Arches and Robinson’s Ice Cave, all intriguing and fun natural attractions.
Banning State Park is at 61101 Banning Park Rd, Sandstone, MN 55072.
15- Great River Bluffs State Park
This state park is on the Mississippi River’s border with Wisconsin, just under an hour’s drive east of Rochester.
One of the park’s best attractions is the overlooks that you can reach along a series of six-mile (9.6 km) walking trails and offer excellent views of the Mississippi River.
In winter, navigate the nine miles (14.5 km) of cross-country skiing trails suitable for intermediate levels.
There are also camping facilities with hot showers, toilets and a special secluded campsite for more privacy.
Great River Bluffs State Park is at 43605 Kipp Dr, Winona, MN 55987.
16- Lake Maria State Park
If you are visiting Minneapolis and want to step into nature, then Lake Maria State Park is an excellent option, as it’s under an hour’s drive from downtown Minneapolis.
One of the main draws of Lake Maria State Park is the collection of “Big Woods”, consisting of impressive maple, oak and basswood forest.
This park is a welcome site for those looking to hike, horse ride or cross-country ski.
There are 13 miles (21 km) of trails for hiking, some of which are along fun boardwalks that cross over marshland.
You can’t head to this state park without seeing Lake Maria, as the lake is the natural habitat of the Blanding’s turtle.
Keep your camera handy if you’re lucky enough to spot one (look out for the distinctive yellow spots on their backs).
Lake Maria State Park 11411 Clementa Ave NW, Monticello, MN 55362.
17- Tettegouche State Park
Another park on the banks of Lake Superior and around a five-minute drive from Silver Bay is Tettegouche State Park.
This state park has 23 miles (37 km) of rocky hiking trails, with choices to hug Lake Superior or hike to the small inland lakes.
An iconic landmark in this state park is High Falls on the Baptism River.
This waterfall wears the badge of being the highest waterfall solely within Minnesota’s border, so it’s a must-see at the park.
If you visit during winter, the 12 miles (19 km) of snowmobile and ski trails are fun to explore.
Tettegouche State Park is at 5702 MN-61, Silver Bay, MN 55614.
18- Zippel Bay State Park
Head up to northern Minnesota to experience the joys of Zippel Bay State Park on the southern shores of the Lake of the Woods.
This lake is a whopping 950,000 acres (385,000 ha) and is spread across Canada.
Zippel Bay State Park has three miles of white sandy beach, making you feel like you are by the sea.
Before relaxing on the beach, be sure to hit the hiking trails.
On the lake is a 90-foot fishing pier, places to launch your boat and even a fishing cleaning station for those wanting to prepare and eat their catches.
There is also a drive-in campsite with access to the Lake of the Woods.
Bring binoculars, and you could have a chance of spotting birds like the sandhill crane and the piping plover.
Zippel Bay State Park is at 3684 54th Ave NW, Williams, MN 56686.
19- Minneopa State Park
85 miles south of Minneapolis is Minneopa State Park, which offers an opportunity to explore Minnesota’s varied landscape.
The park’s name, Minneopa, means “water falling twice” in the Dakota language.
With this in mind, don’t miss the waterfall of Minneopa Creek.
A walking trail loops around the falls and showcases a limestone stairway in the valley.
The park is hilly and wooded but was once covered in tall-grass prairies with marshes before extensive farming occurred.
Minneopa State Park is at 54497 Gadwall Rd, Mankato, MN 56001.
20- Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine State Park
The rather long-named Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine State Park is on the shores of Lake Vermilion in northeastern Minnesota.
This is one of Minnesota’s newest state parks, covering 3,000 acres (1214 ha).
The central focus of the park is Soudan Mine.
Here you can take three tours to learn more about the mining industry.
There’s an “Underground Mine” tour where you can get to see Minnesota’s first iron mine, the “Walking Drift” tour where you see the area’s geological features and the “Secrets of the Deep” tour that focuses on science.
Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine State Park is at 1302 McKinley Park Rd, Soudan, MN 55782.
For more amazing US state parks to visit, read:
- 13 North Dakota State Parks
- 7 South Dakota State Parks
- 20 Illinois State Parks
- 20 Texas State Parks
- 20 Colorado State Parks
- 20 Florida State Parks
- 20 Florida Keys State Parks
- 20 Arizona State Parks
- 20 Indiana State Parks
- 20 Minnesota State Parks
- 20 Connecticut State Parks
- 20 Washington State Parks
- 20 West Virginia State Parks
- 20 Michigan State Parks
- 20 Ohio State Parks
- 20 Oregon State Parks
- 20 New Mexico State Parks
- 20 Kentucky State Parks
- 17 Nebraska State Parks
- 20 Montana State Parks
- 20 Mississippi State Parks
- 21 Massachusetts State Parks
- 20 New Hampshire State Parks
- 20 New Jersey State Parks
- 20 Iowa State Parks
- 20 NC State Parks
- 20 Maryland State Parks
- 20 Nevada State Parks
- 20 Kansas State Parks
- 20 Arkansas State Parks
- 20 Wisconsin State Parks
- 20 South Carolina State Parks
- 20 Tennessee State Parks
- 20 Georgia State Parks
- 20 Hawaii State Parks
- 20 Virginia State Parks
- 20 Missouri State Parks
- 20 Oklahoma State Parks
- 20 Utah State Parks
- 20 Idaho State Parks
- 20 Louisiana State Parks
- 20 Vermont State Parks
- 20 Wyoming State Parks