Minneopa State Park: Day Trip Itinerary

Bison roaming the prairie

Minnesota's third oldest state park is home to a re-established American Plains Bison herd. Enjoy a fun day of exploring Minneopa State Park filled with natural and historical features, including Southern Minnesota's largest waterfall.


  • American Plains Bison herd
  • Waterfalls
  • Seppmann Mill
  • National Register of Historic Places Destinations

Great for:

  • Hiking
  • Birding
  • Picnicking
  • Wildflowers
  • Naturalist programs

The two sides of Minneopa State Park:

The initially established side of the park is located off of County Highway 69, and is home to the park office/ranger station, day use area and waterfalls.

  • Walk down to the double waterfall and take in the splendor of a deep gorge.
  • Bring a picnic lunch. Sit under the shade trees and look for various birds and wildflowers.
  • Host a family gathering at the historic park shelter. (Reservation fees apply - contact park staff for additional information.)

The later established side of the park is located off of State Highway 68. This is where you'll find the campground, Bison Drive and hiking trails. 

  • Drive through the bison range to see North America's largest mammal. The Bison Drive is open Thursday through Tuesday and is closed on Wednesdays for maintenance. Drive hours vary by season, so please check the park website for current hours.
  • From May through September, visit the Bison Ambassador volunteers located at the overlook near Seppman Mill. Learn about American Plains Bison and explore bison artifacts. 
  • Enjoy five miles of hiking trails that include prairie, wetland and forest habitats. 
  • Check the park's events calendar to schedule your visit around a naturalist program.

Minneopa State Park waterfall.

Morning activities

Stop at the park office on the waterfalls side to pick up a map and other information about the park and surrounding area.

Go for a leisurely drive through the bison range to check out the Minnesota Bison Conservation Herd. Stop at the Seppmann Mill to learn about the historic grist (flour) mill, and experience a scenic overlook view of the Minnesota River Valley and bison range tallgrass prairie.

Take a walk from the group campground parking lot down to the confluence of Minneopa Creek and the Minnesota River State Water Trail. Look for seasonal wildflowers and towering cottonwood trees, and listen for the sound of rushing water. The walk is four-quarters of a mile one way on a gravel and dirt trail that has some steep sections.

Afternoon activities

Travel back to the waterfalls side to check out the double waterfalls dropping approximately 40 feet into a deep gorge. A Dakota word, Minneopa has been translated as "water falling twice."

Walk down into the gorge to enjoy the wide variety of unique flora and the steep sandstone cliffs. The walk is six-quarters of a mile one way on a trail of cement and dirt, with steep steps leading in and out of the gorge.

Bring a picnic lunch and find a shady spot to listen to the falling water and maybe a whistle or two from a passing train.

Explore the historic features built by a Works Progress Administration crew during the 1930s. These unemployed men constructed the former Concession/Picnic building, bathroom and the steps leading down into the gorge.

Getting to the park

The park is located off U.S. Highway 169 and State Highway 68, five miles west of Mankato. The park office is at 54497 Gadwall Road, on the waterfalls side.

More explorations nearby

For more state park adventures go for a drive through the Minnesota River Valley to Flandrau State Park in New Ulm, approximately 35 miles west from Minneopa State Park. Flandrau has many miles of hiking trails, camper cabins, a group camp center, picnic areas and much more.

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