List of Minnesota State Parks

List of Minnesota State Parks
Minnesota is home to America's second state park. The park, Itasca, was created in 1891 to protect the state's forest from logging. Since the park was created in 1891, Minnesota has opened more than 70 more parks and recreation areas. The parks are dispersed throughout the state in a way that ensures no resident lives more than 50 miles from a state park.

Itasca State Park

Itasca State Park, the second oldest state park in the nation, is one of the most popular state parks in Minnesota and attracts a half a million visitors per year. The natural scenery in Itasca remains largely unchanged from its natural state and some of the red pines in the area are more than 200 years old. The park is home to 14 endangered plants, including ram's-head lady's slipper, olivaceous spike-rush, bog adder's mouth, slender naiad and sheathed pondweed. More than 200 bird species are found in the park, making the area a favorite stop for birdwatchers. Species include loons, grebes, herons, ducks, owls, hummingbirds, woodpeckers, chickadees, finches and warblers.
This park is open to all types of recreational activities including fishing, canoeing, kayaking, cycling, hiking and cross-country skiing. There are more than 33 miles of hiking trails, some leading to backcountry campsites inaccessible by car.

Itasca State Park
36750 Main Park Drive
Park Rapids, MN‎ 56470
(218) 266-2100‎

Big Bog State Recreation Area

The Big Bog Recreation Area is the most recent park added to the Minnesota state park system. Created in 2006, this massive bog area is comprised of mostly wetlands. The "Big Bog" is larger than the state of Rhode Island. While many forested areas of Minnesota fell victim to the logging industry during the early 20th century, the bog managed to avoid deforestation due to the difficulty of logging in such a swampy area. Recently, though, a permit for peat mining was granted to a Canadian corporation. Environmentalists believe the mining will dramatically alter the bog's ecosystem. Visitors who wish to explore the islands of spruce trees and the inner bog can traverse a large, mile-long walkway specially designed to allow natural sunlight to pass through it in order to protect the delicate bog plants under the walkway.

Big Bog State Recreation Area
55716 NE Highway 72
Waskish, MN‎ 56685
(218) 647-8592

Saint Croix State Park

St. Croix State Park is the largest of its kind in Minnesota, spanning a full 34,000 acres. This park contains sections of both the St. Croix and Kettle rivers and both rivers can be traversed by canoe or kayak. Other recreational activities in the park include hiking, horseback riding, cycling and cross-country skiing. There are more than 125 miles of hiking trails open to intrepid explorers. Be sure to keep an eye out for some of the park's large wildlife including timber wolves, black bears, white-tailed deer, coyotes, beavers, raccoons and foxes.

Saint Croix State Park
30065 Saint Croix Park Road
Hinckley, MN‎ 55037
(320) 384-6591‎

Soudan Underground Mine State Park

The Soudan Underground Mine State Park is a refreshingly unique park experience, providing guests a chance to explore the state's oldest, deepest and richest iron mine. Tours take visitors an amazing 2,300 feet below the Earth's crust. The mine was donated to the state by the United States Steel Corporation, which operated the mine between 1901 and 1962. Buildings on the surface level are always open to the public and guests are invited to enter the mine during summer months. There are two tours, one examines the mining facilities and the other concentrates on the active physics laboratory located underground in the park.

Soudan Underground Mine State Park
1379 Stuntz Bay Road
Soudan, MN‎ 55782
(218) 753-2245‎

Mystery Cave State Park

The Mystery Cave State Park contains the longest cave in the state open to the public. The cave was formed more than a half of a million years ago when flood waters dissolved bedrock to carve out a cave. The park offers guests a variety of recreational activity options, including hiking, camping and cross-country skiing. Visitors who chose to enter the park will enjoy its underground pools, stalactites and stalagmites. Out of the cave, there is a wide selection of wildlife including timber rattlesnakes, glacial snails, deer, raccoons, beavers, minks, woodchucks and foxes. Bird watchers will be interested in the more than 175 bird species recorded in the park.

Forestville Mystery Cave State Park
21071 County 118
Preston, MN 55965
(507) 352-5111

Frontenac State Park

Frontenac State Park is a favorite among Minnesota bird watchers, as more than 260 bird species reside here during some part of the year. Some favorites include bald eagles, golden eagles, warblers, ruddy turnstones and sanderlings. Other than bird watching, guests enjoy camping, sledding, swimming, cross-country skiing and hiking along the park's 13 miles of trails. All visitors are advised to be wary of the timber rattlesnake in the area.

Frontenac State Park
29223 County 28 Blvd.
Frontenac, MN 55026
(651) 345-3401

Article Written By Jill Harness

Jill Harness has written on a variety of subjects for more than 10 years. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications, including "San Diego City Beat," "Mental Floss," Rue The Day! and Neatorama. Harness has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from San Francisco State University.

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