Minnesota is wonderful for its four defined seasons and no where is that more evident than in its state parks. From the bright oranges of fall that cover the trees to frozen lakes, rivers and even waterfalls in the winter to lush greens of summer, every season is a great time to visit nature and stroll through a state park.
I grew up visiting Minneopa State Park. At 12 my dad started taking me to Minneopa to learn how to use my very first SLR camera. While most of the photos I took were basic at best, I do still have one that I love- an old cement staircase that ropes up the valley from the falls and creek area, surrounding by all kinds of vegetation. I think I submitted that photo to the county fair as part of a 4-H project… but what I love is how it reminds me of those days- taking advantage of late summer sun, a fun family moment and to appreciate what is near. That I was so lucky to grow up near to this beautiful park and it’s waterfalls. That MN has so many beautiful places to enjoy. The list could go on and on.
Minneopa State Park
The park is divided into two parts by highway 68. The northern section is larger and lies along the Minnesota River. Here you can camp, hike, and even venture out to Seppmann Mill, a 19th century windwill. Minneopa Falls are located in the smaller section of the park, on the southern side.
When the water is low, in the fall and winter, you can venture down to the falls or walk along Minneopa Creek. While it’s common to see photos of the waterfalls up close, not many people venture in the direction away from the falls. Walk along the creek in the fall and enjoy the fresh air, the deep colors and the lack of mosquitos and wood ticks- the bane of any Minnesotan’s outdoor activities.
If you walk far enough you will come to the tunnels. Built in 1879 there are three connected tunnels, built for the railroad and road that runs above. The railroad is currently working on repairing their side of the tunnels, so while it is not passable at the moment, it is still worth a visit. You’d never know they existed as you drive overhead, so it’s an interesting piece of history worth exploring.
In the winter the waterfalls and creek freeze over which make for some gorgeous photography. Make sure to watch your step though, especially if you plan on exploring the lower falls. Everything is slippery in the winter and can quickly catch you unawares. A new path was put in this past summer, so stay above the falls, on the path if you can handle it. You’ll be safer and can still capture some stunning shots.
The Minneopa Creek and falls area is also one of the stops along the Mankato River Ramble bike ride. Live music, homemade cookies, milk, juice and treats and being the first stop on the tour makes it one of the most popular stops during this annual bike ride.
Visit the falls now through March 5, 2015 to participate in the ExploreMinnesota campaign called CheckPoint Minnesota. A great scavenger hunt across the state of Minnesota, with phenomenal prizes to be won. You don’t have to do them all, just a visit to Minneopa could win you one of several prizes- if you’re going anyway, it’s worth checking out. Read all the details here. I know I’ll be participating in the adventure!