State park facts

State Parks Manage:

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources State Park system includes 76 state parks and recreation areas (68 parks and 8 recreation areas), 8 waysides, 1 state trail, and 56 state forest campgrounds and day use areas that total 267,000 acres.

Number of Visitors:

In 2006, Minnesota State Parks hosted 8,432,143 visitors.  Day use accounts for most of the visits.  Camping accounts for about 11 percent of  park visits.  Nearly 16 percent of park visitors come from other states and countries. Approximately 30 percent of Minnesotans visit a state park each year.

Number of Campers:

More than 866,000 people camped at state parks in 2006.

Most Visited Parks: 

The most visited state parks in 2006 included: 

  • Fort Snelling – 644,076
  • Gooseberry Falls – 567,133
  • Itasca – 502,184
  • Tettegouche – 423,152
  • Interstate – 316,095 

State Park System Includes:

  • 5,717 campsites
  • 1,255 miles of trail
  • 360 archaeological sites
  • 7 scientific and natural areas
  • 8 state waysides
  • 1 state trail
  • 223 horse camp sites
  • 6,526 picnic sites
  • 62 historic districts or landmarks
  • 75 group camps
  • 40 beaches
  • 33 fishing piers (20 are handicapped accessible)
  • 34 visitor centers
  • 135 water access sites
  • 332 miles of road
  • 72 bridges and more than 1,600 buildings (620 buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places)

Park Fees:

  • Annual permit - $25
  • Second vehicle - $18
  • Daily permit  - $5
  • Motorcycle annual permit - $20
  • Camping fee - $11 to $18
  • Electricity  - $4/nightWater and sewer hookup - $4/night
  • Special Annual (for people with disabilities) - $12 (All fees are subject to change.)

Reservations:

Online reservations can be made 24 hours a day, except for the first day a reservation becomes available. On that first day, reservations cannot be made online before 8 a.m. Reserve Now!

Phone reservations can be made by calling 866-857-2757 (TTY: 952-936-4008) between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday through Sunday October through March, and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily April through September. Call center is closed holidays.

Annual Budget:

The annual operating budget for FY07 is $33.4 million.  State parks generate about 1/3 of the division's annual budget
through park user fees that are returned to the general fund and allocated back to state parks. The other 2/3, and more, is returned to the state in the form of state taxes and revenue generated through purchases made in local communities by state park visitors.

Every other year, state parks request funds in the state's bonding bill for building rehabilitation, acquisition, new building development, and road, trail and campground rehabilitation.

Return to the Economy:

Day visitors to state parks spend an average of $25.04 per person/day in communities surrounding the parks. Those who stay overnight spend about $28.84 per person/day.  This accounts for nearly $180 million in visitor spending.

New in 2006:

Big Bog State Recreation Area in Waskish held its grand opening in 2006.  In addition to a modern campground, year-round camper cabins, picnic areas and great fishing, the unit features a mile-long boardwalk into the largest peat bog in the lower 48 states, one of the world's unique geological and ecological treasures.

Natural and Cultural Resources:

The state park system has an active resource management program to protect, preserve and restore cultural resources and natural areas.  These include some of the finest state examples of prairie, northern forest, pinelands and Big Woods found in Minnesota.  About 280 species of plants and animals found in 1600 locations in state parks are classified as endangered, threatened or special concern at either the state or federal level.  Examples include Henslow's sparrow, four-toed salamanders, western prairie fringed orchids, Topeka shiner and the dwarf trout lily. Annually, the Division conducts resource management activities to restore wetlands, improve water quality, eradicate invasive plants, and enhance native vegetation and other resources on more than 12,000 acres of state park land.

Interpretive Programs:

Annually, nearly one million people attend environmental education programs, participate in nature walks and self-guided nature tours and tour exhibits at park interpretive centers.  State parks sponsor a Junior Naturalist Program for children from ages 7-14.  Interpretive program schedules are published in the State Park Traveler newspaper and on the DNR Web site calendar.

Park Activities:

According to park surveys, the most popular state park activity is hiking.  Visitors also enjoy camping, backpacking, canoeing, biking, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, inline skating, swimming, birding, picnicking, sail boarding, rock climbing, snowmobiling, and exploring nature.

Special Tours:

Three state parks maintain a schedule of public tours from Memorial Day through Labor Day.  The parks include: Soudan Underground Mine, Hill Annex Mine and Mystery Cave at Forestville State Park.  Tours on the weekend are available at Soudan and Mystery Cave after Labor Day. There is a fee for these tours. 

Park Support:

There are many ways of supporting state parks including purchasing a state park annual permit, volunteering in a state park on GreenTouch Day held on the first Saturday in May, participating in the Park Partners program or purchasing items at Minnesota State Park Nature Stores.  These are just a few of the opportunities listed in our  "Taking the Extra Step" brochure available for free from the DNR Information Center at 1-888-MINNDNR.

Park Clubs:

The goal for Passport Club members is to visit all Minnesota State Parks.  Hiking Club members are challenged to hike nearly 200 miles in various state parks.  In each club, members earn incentive awards as they work toward the goal. Each club's membership fee is $14.95 and covers the cost of materials.

Lodging:

A number of state parks have guesthouses, cabins and other lodging available for rent.  These include: Bear Head Lake, Fort Ridgely, Itasca, St. Croix, Savanna Portage, Scenic, Tettegouche and Wild River state parks.  For fee information, call 1-888-MINNDNR or check the DNR Website at www.mndnr.gov.

Camper Cabins:

Camper cabins are single room, 12' x 16' wood cabins that provide basic shelter for those who want the experience of camping out but may not have a tent or RV.  Campers must provide sleeping bags for use on bunk bed mattresses.  There is no indoor plumbing, however toilet facilities are located nearby.   All cooking must be done outside the cabin.   Many cabins have 12' x 6' screened porches. Ten parks have camper cabins that are winterized for year-round use. Cabins can be reserved a year in advance and rent for $40 a night or $45 a night for cabins with electricity.

Nature Stores:

Located in most state parks, these stores sell nature-related products.  All proceeds from merchandise sales fund resource and interpretive projects in state parks. The largest retail stores are located at Mystery Cave in Forestville State Park, Itasca, Moose Lake, Sibley, Gooseberry Falls, Interstate, Whitewater and Fort Snelling state parks.

Oldest State Parks:

Minnesota became the second oldest state park system in the country with the establishment of Itasca State Park on April 20, 1891. The next state park added to the system was Interstate State Park on April 25, 1895.  The most significant growth years occurred in 1937, 1957 and 1963.  In 1937, ten  new parks were added across the state. In 1957, five parks were added including four along the North Shore of Lake Superior. The largest number of parks added at one time (11) occurred in 1963.

First Commissioner:

Jacob V. Brower, who mapped the headwaters of the Mississippi River at Itasca.

State Parks Mission:

We will work with the people of Minnesota to provide a state park system that preserves and manages  Minnesota's natural, scenic and cultural resources for present and future generations, and provides appropriate recreational and educational opportunities.

Who Benefits:

Minnesota State Parks benefit visitors, communities, the economy and the environment.  Benefits to visitors include opportunities for recreation as well as places to go to experience solitude, enjoy the natural environment, learn about nature and relax.  Communities near state parks gain a sense of community pride, a better understanding of their natural environment and a greater appreciation for what makes their community a special place in which to live and work.  The economy benefits from visitor spending in local communities, employment opportunities, and economic growth generated by state
parks.  The environment benefits from the species diversity and ecosystem health associated with protection of the myriad natural resources found within state parks.

 

State Parks

Year Established

   

Itasca

1891

Interstate

1895

Minneopa

1905

Fort Ridgely

1911

Jay Cooke

1915

Sibley

1919

Whitewater

1919

Scenic

1921

Lake Bemidji

1923

John Latsch

1925
(First established as Scenic Highway State Park, it was officially designated as a State Park in 1997.)

Charles Lindbergh

1931

Camden

1935

Beaver Creek Valley

1937

Blue Mounds

1937

Buffalo River

1937

Flandrau

1937

Gooseberry Falls

1937

Lake Bronson

1937

Lake Shetek

1937

Lake Carlos

1937

Monson Lake

1937

Split Rock Creek

1937

Father Hennepin

1941

St. Croix

1943

Kilen Woods

1945

McCarthy Beach

1945

Nerstrand Big Woods

1945

Split Rock Lighthouse

1945

Myre-Big Island

1947

William O’Brien

1947

Carley

1949

Old Mill

1951

George Crosby Manitou

1955

Cascade River

1957

Frontenac

1957

Judge Magney

1957

Mille Lacs Kathio

1957

Temperance River

1957

Crow Wing

1959

Lac qui Parle

1959

Schoolcraft

1959

Zippel Bay

1959

Bear Head Lake

1961

Big Stone Lake

1961

Fort Snelling

1961

Savanna Portage

1961

Banning

1963

Forestville/Mystery Cave

1963

Glacial Lakes

1963

Great River Bluffs  (formerly O.L. Kipp)

1963

Lake Louise

1963

Lake Maria

1963

Maplewood

1963

Rice Lake

1963

Sakatah Lake

1963

Soudan Underground Mine

1963

Upper Sioux Agency

1963

Franz Jevne

1967
(Official designation was as a State Wayside Park.. Legislation in 1969 officially changed the name to Franz Jevne State Park.

Hayes Lake

1967

Afton

1969

MN Valley State Recreation Area

1969

Moose Lake

1971

Wild River

1973

Tettegouche

1979

Hill Annex Mine

1988

Grand Portage

1989

Glendalough

1991

Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area

1993

Garden Island State Recreation Area

1998

Big Bog State Recreation Area

2000

Red River Valley State Recreation Area

2000

   

Waysides               

Year Established

   

Sam Brown Monument

1929

Inspiration Peak

1931

Joseph R. Brown

1937

St. Croix Islands

1943
(Exchange discussion underway with National Park Service ’05)

Caribou Falls

1947

Kodonce River

1947

Ray Berglund

1951

Cross River

1961
(Became a part of Temperance River State Park in 1998.  No longer a wayside.)

Devils Track Falls

1961

Flood Bay

1963