Park accessibility improvements

Exciting updates are coming to the park!

   

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A number of accessibility improvements and amenity updates are coming to William O'Brien State Park. This project includes facility upgrades that will make the park more accessible to visitors with disabilities, and will provide updated amenities for all park visitors to enjoy.

Construction is now underway, and the lower portion of the park, including all areas east of Hwy. 95, are closed through early 2025. The majority of the park remains open. 

Updates coming to William O'Brien State Park include:

  • Two new restroom buildings in the day use area
  • Restroom upgrades in the Riverway Campground
  • New picnic shelter
  • Improved accessibility in the picnic area, amphitheater, Riverside Trail and Riverway Campground
  • Safer parking lot with better beach access
  • Larger, more accessible swimming beach
  • New accessible canoe launch
  • Improved boat launch area

This project is funded in part by the Get Out MORE (modernizing outdoor recreation experiences) appropriation. 

Map of construction area

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of construction area

Map of improvements

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of coming improvements

What areas remain open to visitors during construction?

Plenty of recreation opportunities will remain available at the park during construction, including all parts of the park that are west of Highway 95. You'll still be able to access: 

  • Camping and lodging, including the Savanna campground, the Wedge Hill group camp, and the camper cabins;
  • Most of the park's 17.4 miles of hiking trails, including the summer Hiking Club Trail;
  • And the park office and interpretive center.
What is closed to visitors during construction?

Reservations for picnic shelters and the Riverside and Riverway campgrounds will not be available while construction is underway. The lower portion of the park – near Lake Alice – will be closed starting in March 2024, including:

  • Mondale Day Use Area, including the Lake Alice public water access, swimming beach, parking lot and picnic shelters;
  • Riverway campground;
  • Riverside group camp;
  • Riverside Trail;
  • And the amphitheater.

Construction begins the week of March 11, 2024.  

Is there access to the St. Croix River during construction?

The public water access at William O'Brien State Park is closed for the 2024 boating season.

Maps showing alternate boat landings can be found on the National Park Service's Lower St. Croix River website. Section maps include:

An interactive map of the full St. Croix River National Scenic Riverway is also available.

How does this project fit with the park's management plan?

Management plans provide a long-term strategic vision for parks and guide the development of facilities and management of resources. The William O’Brien State Park Management Plan was completed in 2008 with input from a Citizens Advisory Committee, a Technical Advisory Team, and the public.

It often takes many years to see the vision of management plans come to fruition. This project is an opportunity to implement several of the recommendations from the plan, including a new layout for the day use area, improved campsite amenities and resolving safety issues on some trails.

Why are accessibility updates needed?

Many facilities in the state parks and trails system are aging and do not comply with current state or federal accessibility standards or best practices. We are continually making improvements to make our parks and trails more accessible as funding allows. The research is clear, time spent in the outdoors has great health and wellness benefits, and it's a priority of the DNR to make our parks and trails accessible to all people who want to enjoy the benefits of outdoor recreation.

How is this project being funded?

This project is funded primarily through regular state bonding funds, with additional funds provided by last year’s Get Out MORE (Modernize Outdoor Recreation Experiences) appropriation. Get Out More is 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. 

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