Visiting a Scientific and Natural Area (SNA)
As part of the State Outdoor Recreation System, SNAs are open to the public for hiking, nature photography, bird watching, snowshoeing, and other activities that don't disturb the natural conditions. Some SNAs are open to all legal hunting, while others are open only to specific types of hunting to help achieve management goals. Only 12 SNAs contain lands which limit public access—these are primarily rookeries and other nesting sites.
Most SNAs are accessible by road, but some may require a boat or a significant hike. Maps on this website are intended for directional use. They do not show precise legal boundaries. Please ask for landowner's permission before crossing private lands.
SNAs are intended to give people the opportunity to experience undisturbed nature. Thus, signage and parking facilities may or may not exist at individual sites. Some sites have interpretive kiosks to help visitors identify key features and processes. SNAs do not provide restroom or other facilities and maintained trails are the exception.
Visitors are encouraged to observe and learn, while protecting the plants, animals, and geological features on the site. Please:
- Leave wildflowers, plants, animals, rocks, and other elements in place to fulfill their life cycle and role in the environment
- Enjoy the site only on foot, snow shoes, or skis, leaving all vehicles off site.
- Leave the site in as pristine a condition as it was when you arrived.
- Camping and picnicking are not allowed on Scientific and Natural Areas; in many instances, public camping facilities are available nearby.
- Hunting and trapping are permitted on peatland SNAs or those listed in the hunting synopsis; consult the regulations carefully regarding areas that are open for hunting.
- Fishing from SNA lands and on lakes with SNAs is allowed on all the peatland SNAs and at the following SNAs (with some special conditions noted): Big Island SNA, Black Lake Bog SNA, Iona's Beach SNA, Iron Springs Bog SNA (trout fishing only), Lester Lake SNA (according to special regulations), Little Too Much Lake SNA, Mille Lacs Moraine SNA, Potato Lake SNA, Seminary Fen SNA, and Twin Lakes SNA.
- Horses are only allowed at Wolsfeld Woods SNA on specified trails.
- Hunting dogs being used for hunting small game and waterfowl are allowed during the season on SNAs open to that hunting
- Dogs are also allowed on the following SNAs (with some special conditions noted): Black Lake Bog SNA, Cannon River Turtle Preserve SNA, Gustafson's Camp SNA, Hovland Woods SNA, Kawishiwi Pines SNA (only dogsledding on trail), Lost 40 SNA, Lost Lake Peatland SNA, Lutsen SNA, Moose Mountain SNA (under control), Mound Prairie SNA, Myhr Creek Ridge SNA, North Black River Peatland SNA, Red Lake Peatland SNA-Maurice O'Link Unit only, Rushford Sand Barrens SNA, Spring Beauty Northern Hardwoods SNA, Two Rivers Aspen Parklands SNA, Uncas Dunes SNA, and Wood-Rill SNA (on leash only).
- In most other cases, pets are not allowed on SNAs.
SNAs are the most sensitive units within the state outdoor recreation system and deserve maximum protection for scientific and educational uses. Help protect SNAs plants, animals, and geological features:
- Respect the rules
- Report problems
- Spread the word of SNA significance
- Support establishment of SNAs by
- Volunteering to help protect and manage sites
- Donating land or making financial contributions
- Supporting the program financially
- Supporting favorable legislation
- Supporting private conservation groups that actively help preserve such lands
SNAs are an important resource. Enjoy your visit, and plan to see them all!
Check the resources page for additional reading, organizations and associations where you can learn more about Minnesota state treasures. The more you see, the more you'll want to learn—the more you learn, the more you'll want to see.