Minnesota, also known as the "Land of Lakes," is home to more than 10,000 different lakes. Of course, this long list encompasses the largest of the Great Lakes: Lake Superior. The biggest metropolitan hub in this state can be found in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area, or the "Twin Cities," as Americans often call them. More than half of the state's population lives in this region.
This large US state consists of recreation areas, national parks, state trails, and state parks. As a result, Minnesota is a perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts like campers, hikers, hunters, anglers, and more. The state is an excellent arena for outdoor activities like hunting, biking, boating, canoeing, kayaking, rock climbing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and much more.
Visitors coming to Minnesota have so many vacation options that the team at Wide Open Roads has been enlisted to inform their decision. It wasn't easy! We didn't even have time to mention the wildflowers of Blue Mounds State Park or the harbor village of Grand Marais. Tourists and travelers headed to the great state of Minnesota should consider the following list before embarking on a scenic getaway to this Midwestern state and its bountiful river valleys.
The Best State Park Areas in Minnesota
1. Parks Along the Mississippi River
The Mississippi River provides a geographical point of reference for travelers across the United States. On the Minnesota side of the Mississippi, there are many beautiful state parks to be visited. This legendary river provides a scenic backdrop for residents and visitors on their outdoor adventures.
Lake Itasca at Itasca State Park is the source of the Mississippi River. It is home to Minnesota's oldest state park. This state park is known for being the Headwaters of the Mississippi. Travelers will find this recreation area in the state's northern region in a town called Park Rapids.
Fort Snelling State Park is very accessible for residents of Minneapolis or the state capital of St. Paul. This Park features a golf course, historical sites, and many trails for hiking, biking, or skiing.
Frontenac State Park is another popular option for recreation along the Mississippi River. The Park stands out for its abundance of native wildlife and views of the nearby Lake Pepin.
Great River Bluffs State Park is a superb option for tourists in Winona, Minnesota. This area is about a two-hour Southbound drive from the St. Paul area. Great River Bluffs State Park lies right on the Mississippi and is a great spot to walk through hiking trails, birding, sightseeing, camping, and more.
Finally, Whitewater State Park sits West of the Mississippi along the Whitewater River. Visitors in this southern Minnesota area should try this close-by destination to do more of what they love and explore a different river region. Whitewater is also great for camping, with picnic areas and four camper cabins.
2. Parks Along the St. Croix River
The Saint Croix River is a tributary of the Mississippi running along the border of Wisconsin and Minnesota. The St. Croix River is a National Scenic Riverway and protected by the National Park Service. What's more, these scenic shores host some beautiful Minnesota state parks.
Interstate State Park has two locations—one on each side of the state line. Visitors often travel here to see river views from the top of a steep river gorge and other eye-catching rock formations.
William O'Brien State Park lies South of Interstate. Sitting on the St. Croix River, this is the perfect spot for outdoor lovers looking to camp and fish on their vacation.
Finally, Afton State Park is located amidst the St. Croix State Forest—making this destination a great pick for hikers and backpackers.
3. Parks Along Lake Superior
Last but most certainly not least is the Lake Superior region of Minnesota! This area is home to so many beautiful state parks and recreation areas. As a result, it's hard to choose between these fantastic bucket-list destinations. Having said that, tourists can't go wrong visiting the state parks on Lake Superior.
We have to start with Split Rock Lighthouse State Park. As you can tell from the picture atop this article, Split Rock is the perfect example of a stunning Minnesota state park. Take a day trip to the north shore of Lake Superior to reach this state park. In addition to hiking and fishing, Split Rock has plenty of bike trails, and the gorgeous fall colors make it great for birdwatching.
Banning State Park and Jay Cooke State Park aren't found right on Lake Superior but outside this excellent lake area. Often, these two parks are stops on the way to Lake Superior for views of the Kettle River and St. Louis River.
From there, tourists can travel past Duluth to Two Harbors to find Gooseberry Falls State Park. Once on this path, travelers could enjoy a road trip along the lake to see parks like Tettegouche State Park, Temperance River State Park, Cascade River State Park, and Judge C.R. Magney State Park.
At the very top of this stretch of Lake Superior, individuals can visit Grand Portage State Park on the Canadian border (home to Minnesota's tallest waterfall).
As if this wasn't adventurous enough, Bear Head State Park lies just West of Lake Superior and is often visited by travelers of this region.
With so much to choose from, it's obvious why American tourists frequent Minnesota's lakes, rivers, and corresponding state parks time and time again. Enjoy traveling the Land of Lakes!
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