In advance of the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is highlighting recreational opportunities at state parks, trails and recreation areas throughout Minnesota.
The DNR’s summer activities guide is a great place to start planning a state parks and trails adventure. The guide lists warm weather activities for people of all ages and interests.
“Many people know about common activities at state parks and trails like hiking and camping, but we offer so much more,” said Ann Pierce, the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division director. “We encourage people to explore the DNR website to learn about all the activities available within the state parks and trails system.”
Nature walks and campfire talks
State parks offer events and programs led by interpretive naturalists. Participants can learn about wildlife, plants, night skies, park history, outdoor skills and more. There’s no cost to attend naturalist events, but some require reservations. Check the online events calendar for a full list of programming.
Plan a picnic
There are 60 locations within the state parks and trails system with picnic shelters, and even more with picnic areas. The DNR’s guide on how to picnic like a pro provides picnic location suggestions and can help visitors learn what to pack, find games to play, and get campfire cooking recipes.
Walk, pedal and roll on state trails
Minnesota offers more than 1,300 miles of state trails. Many state trails are paved, making them a great option for bikers, in-line skaters, and people using wheelchairs or strollers. State trails do not require a vehicle permit. Find trail maps on the DNR’s state trails webpage.
Borrow equipment to try a new activity
Most state parks and recreation areas offer free loaner equipment so visitors can try a new activity before purchasing their own gear. Fishing kits, birding kits, kids’ discovery kits and GPS units are available on a first come, first served basis at select park offices. Find where equipment is available to borrow on the DNR’s loaner equipment webpage.
Enjoy the water
Minnesota is known for water recreation, and paddling is a popular activity. To learn about state water trails for a paddling trip, visit the DNR’s water trails webpage. More than 30 state parks offer rentals, including canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards. Life jackets are included with rentals. In addition, state parks are home to hundreds of lakes and many swimming beaches perfect for a day of play or relaxation. Use the ParkFinder tool to find state parks with swimming beaches and rentals.
Limited camping reservations available
As of Thursday, May 18, 95% of available camping and lodging in state parks and recreation areas is fully booked for Memorial Day weekend. People looking for a camping reservation will find the most openings in northwestern Minnesota. Locations with more than 10 available campsites include Franz Jevne, Lake Bronson and Zippel Bay state parks and Red River State Recreation Area.
Campers who don’t have a reservation can consider state forest campgrounds, where all campsites are available on a first come, first served basis. Find these campgrounds on the DNR’s camping in Minnesota state forests webpage.
Check visitor alerts before leaving home
State park and recreation area pages on the DNR website post visitor alerts to communicate important information related to safety, closures, construction projects and other helpful details. Find visitor alerts on park webpages.
For more information about any of these recreation opportunities, visit www.mndnr.gov or contact the DNR Information Center at [email protected] or 888-646-6367 (8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday).