News release: Despite flooding, outstanding outdoor recreation opportunities will abound in Minnesota 4th of July holiday weekend

July 1, 2024

Planning ahead will help ensure a safe and enjoyable experience on public lands and waters

The Independence Day holiday weekend is just around the corner, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has tips and important information for visitors to make sure everyone can enjoy the best outdoor recreation opportunities our public lands and waters have to offer, while also staying safe and avoiding areas damaged by current flooding.

“Even with the recent flooding around the state, there are a lot of great opportunities to enjoy the outdoors this 4th of July,” DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen said. “As long as you do a little extra planning, are ready to make adjustments and can be flexible with your plans when you go, you can have a great outdoors experience with your family or friends.”

Plan ahead

From hiking, biking and birdwatching to camping, fishing and paddling, the state’s parks, recreation areas, forests and waterways offer an incredible variety of outdoor experiences.

The DNR’s Recreation Compass is a user-friendly resource to find state, federal and some local public recreation lands. Visitors can also find information about how to make a camping reservation or buy a fishing license and much more on the DNR website.

Stay safe on trails and roads

Visitors are encouraged to use caution if they encounter high water when traveling to or visiting an outdoor recreation site. Do not attempt to use trails and roadways that are underwater.

Follow these guidelines:

  • Don’t travel on flooded roads. Hazards can be hidden under floodwater.
  • Obey road and trail closures and signs. Don’t drive around barricades.
  • Report unsafe state forest road conditions to the local area DNR Forestry office. Unsafe state trail conditions should be reported to the area Parks and Trails office. Contact information for both can be found on the DNR website.
  • Report conditions in state parks directly to the park. Contact information for individual state park websites can be found on the DNR’s list of state parks and recreation areas.

Use caution when recreating around high water

In areas where recent rainfall has raised water levels, the DNR urges anglers, boaters, and others to exercise extreme caution—or avoid these areas altogether until the water recedes. Rivers in several parts of the state are running extremely high and fast, and conservation officers recommend people stay off those waterways until the water levels drop.

In addition to inundating riverbanks, the recent rainfall has downed trees and swept natural and man-made objects into the water, creating hazards for boaters, swimmers and anglers. High water also can cover obstructions such as concrete pilings that boaters might not see until it’s too late.

People should avoid places where there’s a high-water alert. Those recreating in areas without an alert should still keep in mind that wearing a life jacket provides the best chance of surviving an unexpected fall into the water.

In addition, people should tell someone where they will be and when they plan to return.

To learn which public water access sites are open, contact a local DNR office by using the DNR office locator, or contact a local bait shop or outfitter.

DNR-managed lands most affected by flooding

DNR-managed lands and facilities in 29 counties have experienced some level of flooding and damage after the recent heavy rains. Many DNR staff are assessing these impacts and have already initiated repairs in many areas, but some previously announced closures and service interruptions are still in place.

  • Fort Snelling State Park closed to the public on Saturday, June 22. The park will remain closed until river waters recede and staff are able to assess conditions of facilities and amenities and address flood-related cleanup and repairs.
  • Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine State Park has suspended underground tours until further notice, due to flooding in the mine. However, surface tours have resumed.
  • Blue Mounds State Park has suspended their bison and prairie tours due to wet conditions.

“We want people to know that most state parks and trails will be fully operational over the holiday weekend. And our staff are hard at work addressing flood-affected areas,” said Ann Pierce, director of the Parks and Trails Division. “This is a fluid situation, so our best advice for people is to be sure to check the detailed visitor alerts on the DNR website as they finalize their plans. Also, to stay safe and avoid damaging sensitive resources, we ask folks to observe all closures.”

Four state forests also experienced moderate to severe damage, namely the George Washington, Kabetogama, Sturgeon River, Cloquet Valley and Finland state forests. Further, several state forest campgrounds are partially or fully closed in the Cloquet Valley and Finland state forests. Find details on the state forests website.

Scientific and Natural Areas do not have DNR staff on-site and the DNR does not close SNAs. They do not typically have amenities such as trails, restrooms, etc. Visitors to SNAs should follow general safety guidance related to flooding. Rules for visiting SNAs are available on the DNR website. Wildlife management areas remain open and people on these lands might encounter high water. Users of these public lands are advised to use caution if they encounter high water and do not attempt to use trails and roadways that are under water. Maps and any advisories for individual WMAs can be found on the WMA finder.

The flooding situation in Minnesota is dynamic and expected to continue to evolve. The Minnesota DNR will continue to provide updates. 

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