Visit all Minnesota State Parks in a Year

Entrance to Minneopa State Park

The Goal: To visit all Minnesota State Parks in a year

The Minnesota State Park system is celebrating its 125 year anniversary in 2016 and I’m going to celebrate just as hard by visiting all of them… this year!

In order to help keep track on each one I joined the “Passport Club“. The passport club is basically collecting a stamp at the entrance of most every park. While just stopping in at the door for a stamp sure would be easier, that’s not really the point of visiting a state park. I actually think that that would utterly defeat the purpose entirely.

There are 71 State Parks (and Recreation Areas) that I need to visit in order to succeed in this journey. In true fashion, and as they should be, most of the state parks are completely isolated, so it will entail some serious planning and some willing travel companions. I’m excited for the challenge. Here’s a sample itinerary of some of the most northern MN State Parks.

Related Articles on Minnesota State Parks:

Top MN State Parks to SUP

Top MN State Parks to Bring your Dog

Frozen MN Waterfalls to visit this Winter

Who wants to join me and visit all Minnesota State Parks in a year?

Great River Bluffs State Park

Minnesota State Parks

In order of the visit. Click on each park to learn more about each one.

  1. Sakatah Lake State Park
  2. Flandrau State Park
  3. Minneopa State Park
  4. Mille Lacs Kathio State Park
  5. Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park
  6. Lake Louise State Park
  7. Great River Bluffs State Park
  8. Carley State Park
  9. Rice Lake State Park
  10. John A. Latsch State Park
  11. Temperance River State Park
  12. Judge C. Magney State Park
  13. Grand Portage State Park
  14. Cascade River State Park
  15. Tettegouche State Park
  16. Split Rock Lighthouse State Park
  17. Gooseberry Falls State Park
  18. Fort Ridgely State Park
  19. Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area
  20. Fort Snelling State Park
  21. Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park
  22. Myer-Big Island State Park
  23. Lake Shetek State Park
  24. Charles Lindbergh State Park
  25. Crow Wing State Park
  26. Split Rock Creek State Park
  27. Sibley State Park
  28. Glendalough State Park
  29. Lake Carlos State Park
  30. Frontenac State Park
  31. Whitewater State Park
  32. Father Hennepin State Park
  33. Hill Annex State Park
  34. Lake Vermillion – Soudan Underground Mine State Park
  35. Bear Head Lake State Park
  36. Franz Jevne State Park
  37. Zippel Bay State Park
  38. Hayes Lake State Park
  39. Lake Bronson State Park
  40. Old Mill State Park
  41. Red River State Recreation Area
  42. Buffalo River State Park
  43. Maplewood State Park
  44. Schoolcraft State Park
  45. Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area
  46. Lake Maria State Park
  47. Blue Mounds State Park
  48. Camden State Park
  49. Lac Qui Parle State Park
  50. Big Stone Lake State Park
  51. Glacial Lakes State Park
  52. Upper Sioux Agency State Park
  53. Beaver Creek Valley State Park
  54. William O’Brien State Park
  55. Interstate State Park
  56. Wild River State Park
  57. St. Croix State Park
  58. Banning State Park
  59. Jay Cooke State Park
  60. Kilen Woods State Park
  61. Afton State Park
  62. Moose Lake State Park
  63. George Crosby State Park

Want to follow along on my journey? Follow me on Instagram @Gretcholi or check out the hashtag: #PicklesTravelMNStateParks

Traveling across Minnesota to visit all of the state parks is a great way to road trip across the state. Whether you're looking for a day trip or a weekend outdoor adventure there are so many amazing things to do and gorgeous places to see. All are incredible for kids to visit and are dog-friendly. So pack up the family and go on a family camping adventure!

11 Thoughts on “Visit all Minnesota State Parks in a Year

  1. Hi Greta, that sounds like so much fun and crazy at the same time. I’m curious, what is your plan to accomplish it? If I was that ambishes I think I could only do 52 at most. I look forward to see how you pull it off!

    • Greta AlmsNo Gravatar on March 20, 2016 at 7:13 pm said:

      Hi Jenn-
      Great question. It won’t be easy for sure. I have several weekend trips that are centered around trying to visit 2 parks a day. Luckily quite a few of the state parks are somewhat close to one another- or line up in a row- like along the Wisconsin border, along Hwy 61 and a few others. I know I won’t be able to see everything at each park doing it this way, but I think it’s a great way to get out and start seeing parts of MN that I hadn’t previously visited. I’m excited about it :-)

  2. Chasa FulkersonNo Gravatar on September 16, 2016 at 12:50 pm said:

    This is such a great idea! How cool and cute that you can get stamps for visiting each park!

    • Greta AlmsNo Gravatar on September 16, 2016 at 1:26 pm said:

      Thanks Chasa- I don’t know if I could keep track of them all if it weren’t for the passport book and stamps so I’m loving that element for sure :c)

  3. Pingback: Northern Minnesota Road Trip - Pickles Travel Blog

  4. Zach AndersonNo Gravatar on February 25, 2017 at 6:09 pm said:

    I am reading about a year late because I am on the same mission. I am going to follow you on instagram to maybe help give myself some ideas. Being that it is an awkward time of the year I am struggling with what park I should choose for Monday. Any tips on parks that are okay wasted on this weird time of the year?

    • Greta AlmsNo Gravatar on February 25, 2017 at 6:19 pm said:

      Awesome Zach!! It’s such a great mission to have. This has been such a mild year that the hiking paths in quite a few of the parks will be open and will still be awesome to visit. Where are you coming from? If you are in the cities you might want to start at some of the nearby ones like Fort Snelling State Park- it’s this crazy cool oasis in the city and is beautiful year round. I actually really enjoyed visiting the parks in the winter and early spring so I think you’re starting at a great time! Happy to help with advice and ideas at any time.

    • HeatherNo Gravatar on March 11, 2017 at 10:26 pm said:

      Hi Zach, my family has been traveling to the parks as well in a year starting on Labor Day, so much of our time has been during colder/snowy weather. We have visited 30 so far mostly on the eastern side of the state from Grand Portage to Lake Louise. We have enjoyed many winter activities (ice fishing at Savana Portage, snowshoeing in Myre-Big Island, sledding at Mille Lacs Kathio, etc.), but have also encountered a few smaller parks that have had their gates shut or no plowing to prevent vehicle access into the park (email the Park-we have gotten real emails back!). I wouldn’t say your visits would be wasted, instead we think of making a list of where we’d like to come back to have another experience in a different season. We have planned a bit on what season certain camping & lodging is available, also have recognized that visitor/Interpretive centers have very little people at them now, and waterfalls in late winter are beautiful!! Mud hiking with kids in tow in not fun, but probably not avoidable. Hope some of this help-good luck & enjoy your year!

      • Greta AlmsNo Gravatar on March 14, 2017 at 9:26 am said:

        Exactly!! Perfectly said Heather! I think winter is the perfect time to be in the parks and love that you got to go sledding at Mille Lacs Kathio! I’ve heard that Fort Ridgely has the best sledding hill but I bet the hills there rocked! Whereabouts was the sledding hill?

  5. HeatherNo Gravatar on April 20, 2017 at 10:28 pm said:

    Hi Greta, while on our last trip touring the parks in the NW part of the state I came across an advertisement for the MN Historical Society yearly membership and realized what a bargain it would to purchase this in addition to the passport for the MN state parks. The society operates in 5 (more?) state parks, like split rock, Charles Lindbergh, etc. lots of other good places to visit near the parks too. Our family will be getting a membership for our next trip!

    • Greta AlmsNo Gravatar on April 21, 2017 at 11:31 am said:

      Great point Heather! The MN Historical Society has some great spots not in state parks too- and I highly recommend checking them all out- James J Hill house and their main museum are my favorites in St Paul. They are also in Forestville and Fort Ridgely State Park (both of which we were able to visit on our trips). I should do a post on that aspect!

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