Minnesota state park rules

This is a partial listing of state park rules and regulations. Visit the Minnesota State Legislature for the complete rules.

Park hours

8 a.m. to 10 p.m., 365 days a year. Office hours vary by season and by park.

State park permit

All vehicles entering a state park must display a valid year-round or one-day Minnesota state park vehicle permit affixed to the lower right hand corner of the windshield. Learn more about vehicle permits.

Funds from state park vehicle permits and fees are used to help manage park resources and facilities.


In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, state parks are working to make facilities accessible to people of all abilities. Learn more. Call the specific state park you are planning to visit for up-to-date information on accessibility. Discounted or free vehicle permits are available to some people with disabilities, disabled veterans, and active duty personnel.


It is illegal to consume or display intoxicating liquors in Minnesota state parks and recreation areas, forest campgrounds or forest day use areas. State laws apply to possession and use of drugs. Possession of 3:2 beer in a keg is not permitted without written permission of the park manager or forest officer. 

Archaeology and artifact removal

Only qualified archaeologists licensed by the state archaeologist and the Minnesota Historical Society and with a state park research permit may look for historic and archaeological material on state park lands. It is illegal for anyone else to dig for or remove items of archaeological interest from a state park, public waters or any other state lands in Minnesota. This includes collectibles such as bottles, metal artifacts, historic coins, pottery pieces, carved stones and arrowheads. You must obtain a field archaeology license from the Office of the State Archaeologist before digging for or removing any such items from state lands.

If you happen to find an item of archaeological interest, please leave it where you found it and alert park staff to its exact location. We have archaeologists and cultural resource program staff who can study the site for evidence of past land use and ways of life. By leaving items where you found them, we can better preserve Minnesota’s important cultural resources.


Biking is permitted only on designated trails or park roads where motor vehicles are allowed, unless otherwise posted.


All campsites require a reservation. Please make a reservation online or call 866-857-2757. Only campers with a reserved campsite are allowed in the park after 10 p.m. Quiet hours are from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m.

A campsite's occupancy is limited to one camping group of six people or less, one camping shelter, and one vehicle. Additional persons, shelters or vehicles are permitted only with prior approval of the park manager. These limits do not apply in designated group camping areas.


The policy for canceling or making changes to a reservation varies, depending on what specifically the reservation is for, and how many days are left before arrival.

Check-in/check out

Overnight guests must check in after:

  • Lodging: 3 p.m. for camper cabins. Other lodging, check with the park. 
  • Camping: 4 p.m.

If you have not checked in by 11 a.m. of the second day of your reservation, your reservation may be canceled. (So if your reservation starts today, you need to check in by 11 a.m. tomorrow morning.)

Overnight guests must check out by:

  • Lodging: 11 a.m.
  • Camping: 4 p.m.

Camping: Includes all campsites, tipis, wall tents, yurts, and group camps.
Lodging: Includes camper cabins, cabins, guesthouses, suites, rooms, and other overnight facilities except group lodging facilities.


Unwanted pests called invasive species are easily and unknowingly moved when you move firewood. To make sure trees are here for generations in the future, we need to slow the spread of harmful tree insects and disease. You can do this by buying firewood close to where you will burn it; buying certified firewood; or gathering wood on site where permitted. Find out what kinds of firewood may be brought into state parks and state forests..


Fireworks are not permitted in state parks.


When fishing in waters entirely within state parks, anglers must comply with Minnesota fishing laws and rules. Minnesota residents can fish without a fishing license in most Minnesota state parks, including ice fishing. Learn more.

Flotation devices

In a state park, while in the water, use of air mattresses, inner tubes or other flotation devices that are not approved by the Coast Guard is prohibited except when used in an area specifically designated for that use.


The DNR no longer manages a geocaching program. Apply for a geocaching permit if you want to hide a geocache for other people to find in a state park, state recreation area, or wayside managed by the DNR. It may take up to 30 days for your application to be processed. All caches require a signed permit prior to placement. 

Here's what you need to know if you want to hide a geocache in a Minnesota state forest


Hammocks are allowed in public use areas (campsites, picnic areas, trailheads, day use areas) at state parks, state recreation areas, forest recreation areas, state trails and state water trails. The same rules apply for overnighting in a hammock as in a tent - you must be in a designated camping area.

Hanging your hammock:

  • Hammocks must be hung over mowed areas where brush has been cleared away.
  • Trees used must be at least 12 inches in diameter (about the width of a dinner plate) at the point a hammock is attached. Note that not all locations have trees large enough to support hammocks - some parks are unable to accommodate hammocks anywhere, including in the campground.
  • Use straps at least one inch wide to attach your hammock. Many of the state park Nature Stores sell hammock straps. If the tree bark shows damage, additional padding may be required for the strap.
  • Hang only one hammock per tree. Stacking (more than one hammock on top of each other) and wheel spokes (multiple hammocks tied to one tree and set up in different directions) are not allowed.
  • Some areas may be closed to hammock use temporarily or permanently, to protect cultural or environmental resources, or for visitor safety reasons.

Harvesting edible fruits and mushrooms is allowed in Minnesota state parks, as long as they are for personal consumption. Commercial harvesting is not allowed. It is not allowed to pick wildflowers or other plants (edible or not), even for personal use.

Learn more about harvesting or foraging in state parks, state recreation areas, state waysides, state forest recreation areas and state trails.


Except on state forest roads or forest road right-of-ways, anyone riding a horse on land managed by the DNR—including state parks, state recreation areas, state trails, and state forests—must have a valid horse pass in their possession.


Hunting is prohibited in Minnesota state parks unless authorized by the Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources. Learn about special hunts held in state parks.

Metal detectors

Use of metal detectors is prohibited.


You need to get prior permission from the park manager or forest officer before using a public address system, radio, stereo, amplifier or power equipment that may disturb others. Boisterous, noisy or threatening conduct is not permitted. 

10 p.m. to 8 a.m. is quiet time in state park campgrounds. Generators may not be operated during these hours, and conversation, music and other sounds must be kept low enough to not disturb other campers. 


Parking on the grass is not allowed. Park only in designated areas and spaces provided in the campground.


Pets are welcome in Minnesota's state parks, as long as they are kept on a leash six feet or shorter and are personally attended at all times.

Only service animals are allowed in state park buildings, lodging, cabins, camper cabins, yurts, tipis, on tours, or in beach areas. Emotional support, therapy, comfort or companion animals do not meet the ADA definition of a service animal and are prohibited from entering any park buildings. Service animals may accompany their owners unrestricted.


Easy access and abundant natural features make Minnesota state parks perfect for a variety of resource-related research projects. You must obtain a research permit before beginning work. Download a permit application and learn more about research in state parks.


Reservations can be made the same day as arrival, and up to 120 days before the arrival date. Online reservations can be made 24 hours a day, except for the first day a reservation becomes available. On that first day, reservations cannot be made before 8 a.m.

All state park and recreation area campsites are reservable.

Cave and mine tours in the current calendar year can be reserved beginning April 1.

With all reservations, if you are paying by check or money order, you need to make your reservation a minimum of 15 days in advance.

The reservation fee is $7.00 to make an online reservation and $10.00 to make a reservation by phone. In the event of cancellation, these fees are non-refundable. There is no fee for same-day camping reservations.

Reservations policy and FAQ

Rock climbing

Rock climbing in state parks is allowed only in designated areas and only by permit. Permits are available at the park office.


Skiers 16 years and older must have a Great Minnesota Ski Pass to ski on groomed trails in Minnesota state parks or state forests, or on state or grant-in-aid trails. Sign your ski pass and be sure to carry it with you every time you go skiing.


Smoking is prohibited indoors or within 30 feet of park buildings.


Snowmobiles in state parks can be operated only on designated trails or posted areas. A snowmobile state trail sticker is required for all snowmobiles operating on state or grant-in-aid trails.


Snowshoeing is allowed anywhere in state parks except on groomed trails or where posted.

Unmanned aircraft systems/drones

The division discourages use of unmanned aircraft in state parks, state recreation areas, and state waysides because of the impracticality of their operation under existing rule. Unmanned aircraft or drones are defined as "aircraft" by the Federal Aviation Administration and it is unlawful to land any aircraft on lands or water totally within the boundaries of any state park, state recreation area, or state wayside. Because of the prohibition on "landing," operating unmanned aircraft in these areas is not practical. The division is also concerned about the impact of unmanned aircraft to natural resources (especially wildlife), to division buildings and infrastructure, and to other visitors' safety, privacy, and quality of experience.


It is unlawful for any person to possess explosives of any kind. It is also against the law for any person to possess a firearm (including an air gun) unless the firearm is unloaded and completely contained in a fully enclosed gun case or unloaded and contained in the closed trunk of a vehicle. A person who is legally permitted under MS 624.714 to carry a handgun in the State of Minnesota may legally carry that handgun in state parks.

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