This summer, Minnesota state parks will offer tours that highlight life in a prairie (including the possibility of viewing bison!), the longest cave in the state and Minnesota’s mining history.
Tours take place at Blue Mounds, Forestville/Mystery Cave, and Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine state parks. Reservation information, ticket prices, schedules and more can be found on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resource’s state park tours webpage.
Bison and prairie tours at Blue Mounds State Park
- Blue Mounds State Park, in the southwest corner of Minnesota, offers a 90-minute bus tour into a vast prairie that might include seeing a massive bison herd. These powerful wild animals can be elusive, so there’s no guarantee of seeing one. What can easily be seen is prairie life: grasses, wildflowers, wildlife, and an expansive view. Tour reservations are required. Bison and prairie tours begin May 26.
Mystery Cave tours at Mystery Cave at Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park
- At 13 miles in length, Mystery Cave is Minnesota’s longest cave. A variety of cave tours are offered, including the one-hour lantern tour, the one-hour scenic tour, the two-hour geology tour, and the four-hour wild caving tour. Each tour takes visitors to a different area of the cave and showcases stalactites, stalagmites, flowstone, fossils, and cave pools. Reservations are recommended. One-hour scenic Mystery Cave tours begin May 13, with all other cave tours starting May 27.
Soudan Mine surface tours at Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine State Park
- When the Soudan Mine opened in 1882, it was Minnesota's first iron ore mine. This year, the mine shaft that provides underground access is undergoing restoration, but visitors can still enjoy a one-hour surface tour. Tour participants are guided through the various Soudan Mine surface facilities, where they gain insight into the life of a miner, see what happened to the ore after it was extracted, and learn about the process of preparing ore for shipment on its way to becoming steel. Reservations are required. Soudan Mine tours begin May 27.
State park webpages, which can be found on the DNR’s state parks list, include tour descriptions with information on age restrictions and appropriate tour apparel, such as walking shoes. Visitor alerts containing information about closures, construction and current park conditions are also available on park webpages.
A state parks vehicle permit is not needed for the parking area at the visitor center at Soudan Underground Mine. However, tour participants at Blue Mounds and Forestville/Mystery Cave state parks will need a vehicle permit to drive into the park. The cost is $7 per day, or $35 per year for unlimited visits to all 75 state parks and recreation areas. Vehicle permits can be purchased on the DNR’s state parks permit webpage or in person during open hours at state park offices.