There are six stunning national park services in Minnesota. The state is home to one National Park, a National Scenic Riverway, and a National River and Recreation Area. It also has a National Scenic Trail and two National Monuments. As you can see, it is a great place to visit for those who love history, scenery, and having a wet and wild time. Ready to explore the Land of 10,000 Lakes? If so, read on, as here are some of the best national parks in Minnesota.
The Best National Parks in Minnesota
1. Voyageurs National Park
Voyageurs National Park is an adventure-lovers playground all year long. Located in northern Minnesota, near the Canadian border, it covers a vast area of 218,055 acres and is famous for its forests, wetlands, waterways and cliffs. It is also famous for its lakes Rainy, Kabetogama and Namakan which are dotted with islands. Voyageurs National Park is popular for hiking, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and boating. The best month to visit Voyageurs National Park is in late August or early September when Fall is setting in. The temperature is mild and the colours are kaleidoscopic.
2. Mississippi National River and Recreation Area
The Mississippi is an iconic American river. This 72-mile river park offers quiet stretches of water ideal for fishing, boating, canoeing, birdwatching, cycling, and hiking. The area also has plenty of visitor centres and walking trails that tell the story of the fascinating human history of the Mississippi River. One of the best times to visit is in the late spring when the wildflowers are in full bloom in the prairies.
3. North Country National Scenic Trail
Hiking the North Country National Scenic Trail is wonderful because it gives you an opportunity to experience the wild natural beauty of the northern states. The trail snakes its way across eight northern states from Vermont to North Dakota, taking in the states of Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Wisconsin. Stretching over 4,600 miles, this trail takes you by some wonderful landscapes, for instance, hills and valleys, lakes and rivers, open prairies, and passed historic sites that tell how America settled and grew as a nation. Over 800 miles of the North Country Trail crosses Minnesota, taking in some incredibly scenic spots, for instance, Maplewood State Park, Grand Rapids, and Fergus Falls.
4. Pipestone National Monument
The Pipestone National Monument is located in southwestern Minnesota. At this site, for generations, American Indians have quarried the red pipestone which is red claystone prized for its durability and relative softness – both of which make it perfect for carving. Many native peoples consider this site sacred as the pipestone quarried here is carved into pipes used for prayer. A visit to this National Monument is a wonderful way to learn all about the tradition of pipe making, and the cultural as well as the natural landscape.
5. Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway
The St. Croix and Namekagon rivers together form the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. The rivers flow through some beautiful and unspoiled areas and offer outdoor enthusiasts 252 miles of recreational opportunities. For instance, you can paddle, boat, fish, and camp, as well as hike and explore the surrounding historic towns. Throughout the year, the St. Croix River Association staff present and run indoor and outdoor programs aimed to educate visitors about the area and help them get the most out of the riverway. For example, they host an environmental education program and provide workbooks for children at the visitor centre. Also along the riverway, you’ll find historic cabins, archaeological sites, and beauty spots, for instance, St. Croix State Park and Little Yellow Banks Landing.
6. Grand Portage National Monument
The Grand Portage National Monument is located on the north shore of Lake Superior in northeastern Minnesota. This site preserves a vital centre of the fur trade and Anishinaabeg Ojibwe culture. The area is incredibly beautiful and one of the best vantage points is from the Mount Rose Trail Overlook. From here you can see the historic depot and dock on Grand Portage Bay (Lake Superior) with Hat Point and Pete’s Island in the distance and Isle Royale visible on the horizon.