Each year, DNR chooses a different park or natural feature to highlight on state park vehicle permits
People might already know that the 2024 state park vehicle permit sticker features Big Stone Lake State Park, but do they know the story about how the park got selected for the permit?
When deciding which park to feature, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources considers several factors and looks to highlight parks from across the state as well as a variety of natural features. After reviewing the list of parks and natural features from past permit stickers, Big Stone Lake State Park emerged as the clear choice for the 2024 permit. Big Stone Lake was last featured on the vehicle permit sticker in 1974.
“We have not featured a prairie scene on a state park vehicle sticker in a number of years,” Parks and Trails Director Ann Pierce said. “This year’s permit sticker has a photo of a variegated meadowhawk, a type of dragonfly native to Minnesota. The dragonfly is perched on bluestem grass with vibrant colors of the sunset in the background. Because dragonfly nymphs require clean, healthy water to develop, dragonflies are indicators of a healthy ecosystem. We’ve never had an insect on our permit sticker, and this image speaks of the prairie ecosystem so nicely.”
When Park Manager Terri Dinesen was asked if she knew of an area photographer who would be able to capture the essence of the park, she knew just who to ask. Photographer John White, who lives in rural Big Stone County just a few miles from the park, submitted the photo that appears on the permit. A retired photojournalist and frequent park visitor, White perfectly captured the character and beauty of the prairie.
The tradition of featuring one park or recreation area on the state park vehicle permit sticker each year was solidified in 1983. Prior to 1983, some permits pictured a single park, while others pictured natural features present in multiple state parks, such as trees, plants, water features and wildlife. The first state park permit sticker was issued in 1954 and included an illustration of a lake shore with pine trees in the background.
Since 1986, the DNR has also commissioned a collectible mug to match the state park vehicle permit sticker. The handmade mugs are produced by Minnesota-based Deneen Pottery. Mugs can be purchased at state park nature stores, or at the online nature store. Nature store locations in state parks can be found on the state park nature store map.
Big Stone Lake State Park is located near Ortonville, on the western border of the state. As the name suggests, the park is located along the shoreline of Big Stone Lake, which is the source of the Minnesota River. The park offers hiking trails, fishing, picnic areas, a playground, campground and visitor center. People wishing to visit Big Stone Lake State Park can visit the park’s website for information and maps. Visitors are advised to check the visitor alerts and seasonal updates for the most current information about the park.
The state park year-round vehicle permit sticker is placed on a park visitor’s vehicle windshield, and provides unlimited access to all Minnesota state parks and recreation areas for one year. It costs $35 and is valid for 12 months from the date of purchase. Permits can be purchased online, or in person at state park ranger stations during open office hours. Visitors should check individual park websites for office hours.