News release: State parks and trails offer abundant recreational opportunities over Memorial Day weekend

May 16, 2024

In preparation for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is sharing recreation opportunities across the state parks and trails system.

“We are honored to welcome visitors for a weekend of outdoor recreation and reflection over Memorial Day weekend,” said Ann Pierce, DNR Parks and Trails director. “State parks, recreation areas, trails and water recreation sites serve as sanctuaries for people to connect with nature, pass on a love of the outdoors to younger generations and create lasting memories. We welcome everyone to come out and enjoy the beauty and healing powers of nature.”

The DNR’s summer activities guide is a great place to start planning a Memorial Day weekend outing to a state park or trail. The guide lists warm weather activities for people of all ages and interests.

Bears, bogs, bald eagles and more!

State parks and recreation areas offer events and programs led by interpretive naturalists. Participants can learn about wildlife, plants, night skies, park history, outdoor skills and more. Most naturalist events are free to attend, but sometimes require reservations. Check the online events calendar for a full list of programming.

Highlights over the Memorial Day weekend include:

  • Bear Necessities Evening Program: Wild River State Park, May 25, 7-8 p.m.
    • People visit the park, but black bears live there all the time. Interpretive naturalists will answer questions at this campfire program and offer information on what to do if people see a bear.
  • Guided Glacial Pothole Tours, Interstate State Park, May 25, 26 and 27, noon to 1 p.m. each day
    • Visitors will discover the stories hidden within scenic river views and unique geologic features as they explore with a park guide.
  • Boglands Uncovered: Exploring Nature's Mysterious Wetlands, Big Bog State Recreation Area, May 25, 10 a.m. to noon
    • Participants can step onto the bog boardwalk and immerse themselves in the serene beauty of one of nature's most captivating landscapes on a guided tour.
  • Bald Eagles: Guardians of the Sky, Lake Bemidji State Park, May 26, 10-11 a.m.
    • Visitors will join an exciting journey to uncover the secrets of the mighty bald eagle. From their colossal nests to their incredible fishing talents, get ready for an encounter with these awe-inspiring birds.

Walk, pedal, roll and ride 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, inline skaters, and people using wheelchairs or strollers. Some state trails are open to motorized use or horseback riding. State trails do not require a vehicle permit for entrance, but equestrians need a horse pass and off-road vehicles need to be registered to use state trails. Find trail maps on the state trails website (

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.

Thirteen state parks offer all-terrain track chairs that can be checked out at no cost. These devices are electric-powered chairs that can be used on designated trails within the park. These chairs can help visitors explore areas of the state parks in new ways, often on trails that are not suitable for regular wheelchairs. Details, including information on how to reserve a track chair, are available on the DNR’s track chair 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.

For people who don’t have a watercraft, 32 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.

Very limited camping reservations available

At this time, 98 percent of available camping and lodging in state parks and recreation areas is booked for the three-day Memorial Day weekend. People looking for a camping reservation will find the most openings in northwestern Minnesota. Locations with 10 or more available campsites include Lake Bronson and Zippel Bay state parks and Red River State Recreation Area. Campers looking for a one- or two-night reservation will find more openings.

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 campgrounds on the camping in Minnesota state forests webpage.

Check visitor alerts before leaving home

State park and recreation area websites post visitor alerts to communicate important information related to safety, closures, construction projects and other helpful details. Find visitor alerts on individual park websites.

Visitors might notice construction projects underway in some state parks, which means exciting improvements are coming to the Minnesota state parks and trails system. These projects, which will be noted in visitor alerts on park websites, will bring updates that all visitors can enjoy, such as modernized facilities, repaired trails and roads, and additional accessibility to recreational opportunities.

Some of this work is funded with the Get Out MORE (Modernize Outdoor Recreation Experiences) appropriation, a historic, one-time investment of $149.9 million to help ensure Minnesotans of all abilities and interests enjoy a world-class recreation system, whichever outdoor experience they choose. To learn more about this initiative, head to the Get Out MORE webpage of the DNR website.

For more information about any of the recreational opportunities mentioned, visit the DNR website.

Back to top