The “Land of the 10,000 lakes”, as the locals call it, has a branched network of water running through its veins, and you can bet they’ve paved some fascinating valleys along the way. But the state’s 11,842 lakes are not all that it is known for. Boasting the US’ largest mall, Mall of America, the town of Bloomington is sure to pull in shopaholics in its 100 acres 4 story mall.
The state also houses the Niagra Cave and Palisade Head both of which are great if you like rock formations. You can head to Niagara Cave to learn about 450 million-year-old Fossils, an underground stream Chapel, and look at the marvel of 3.5 billion-year-old rock formations at Palisade Head. Oh, and if you’re looking for sights to connect you with nature and take your breath away then keep on reading to discover 10 of the many parks Minnesota is famous for.
Voyageurs National Park
While exploring the Voyageurs National Park, you’ll constantly be transitioning from land and aquatic ecosystems, spotting many many species of birds, squirrels, hares, ducks, moose, and more. The park is full of exposed rock ridges, cliffs, wetlands, forests, streams, and lakes, on all 218,055 acres of it!
On a clear night in winter, gaze up from your campfire to see something truly magical; The Aurora Borealis shines over the middle and high latitudes of the northern hemisphere. The park offers winter activities, boating and fishing, camping, and educational activities.
Itasca State Park
The site where the Mississippi River begins its 2500 mile long journey to the Gulf of Mexico, Itasca State Park is Minnesota’s oldest park occupying an area of 32,000 acres. The park is excellent for birding and you can spot herons, cormorants, woodpeckers, owls, and more. The park also has a lot of activities such as kayaking, fishing, winter activities, and others. If you ever get tired of exploring the park, head to the 120-year-old Douglas Lounge for a meal or beer to cool off in the summer.
Gooseberry Falls State Park
Known as “The Gateway to the Northern Shore“, the Gooseberry Falls State Park has a lot to be uncovered by its visitors. The Rocky Lake Superior shoreline, five waterfalls, Gooseberry River roaring through the land and the gorge, the Agate Beach, and the Picnic
Flow all are highlights of the park. Hike on the many trails through the cedar, spruce, and pine forests to discover the park’s 225 species of birds, 46 species of mammals, and ten species of reptiles and amphibians. Furthermore, take part in the educational programs there to learn the history of how the agates on the beach came to be.
Tettegouche State Park
A hiker’s paradise that overlooks the Sawtooth Mountains, Tettegouche State Park provides its visitors with views that are worth their efforts and time: The picturesque view from Shovel Point, steep cliffs and inland bluffs, the outpouring 60 feet High Falls of the Baptism River, and a stay at the 125-year-old rustic Tettegouche camp after a good catch from one of its four inland lakes. You can head to the park by taking MN-61 in Silvery Bay.
Jay Cooke State Park
If you're into canoeing and adventuring, head to The Saint Louis River Grand Portage in this park to learn about how Native American voyagers made their way around the challenging rocky gorge of the St Louis River. The park’s rugged land formations enhance the beauty of its hardwood forests.
Other than the portage, the 200 - 300 years old Pioneer Cemetery, the Swinging Bridge over St Louis River, and the rustic buildings from the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) era are top spots to visit. You can get to Jay Cooke State Park through MN-210 in Carlton.
Interstate State Park
This park will demand your best side to come forth as it poses challenges for climbers on the cliffs of the St. Croix River Dalles, and kayakers rushing through the river's rapids. But of course, you can sit back and relax with your fishing rod on one of the excursion boats, watching the kayakers race for it in the blend of red, yellow, and orange hues of fall.
The park also has some intriguing geology with 10 different lava flows bundled with two distinct glacial deposits, and traces of old stream valleys. Take Milltown Road in Taylors Falls to reach the park.
Whitewater State Park
With brown, brook, and rainbow trout brimming in the spring-fed Whitewater River and Trout Run Creek, this park is no short of an angler’s paradise. The park’s famous limestone bluffs and deep ravines add to its beauty and we recommend Hike Chimney Rock Trail for it. If you’re looking for a bit of history, you can head to the historic Elba Fire Tower which stands at 110ft tall. The park is located 3 miles south of Elba on State Highway 74.
Fort Snelling State Park
Fort Snelling State Park has so much to offer its visitors from extensive hiking, biking, and golf to ski trails that link to Minnehaha Park and the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. The park has a good share of history waiting for you in the Thomas C. Savage Visitor Center with interactive exhibits and at Fort Snelling that tells the tales of the daily life of the military back in 1820.
You can also go for a hike on Pike Island to see the convergence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers. Fort Snelling State Park can be accessed through Snelling Road in St Paul.
St. Croix State Park
Climb a fire tower and swim in Lake Clayton, or explore the 34,000 acres park on horseback, snowmobile, or bicycle; St Croix State Park has a lot in store for you. With 2 scenic rivers, the Saint Croix and Kettle, running through its veins, one can’t resist but get on those canoes and kayaks.
Inhabitants of the park's aspen and conifer forests include black bears, coyotes, beavers, raccoons, grey and red foxes, deer, and many species of birds. The park is located on St Croix Park Road, Hinckley.