10 of Our Favorite Minnesota State Parks

Lately we've been feeling especially cooped up in our houses as "Stay At Home" orders have been extended across the country. However, with the weather warming up and finally feeling like spring, we're so excited to get out and explore all of the beautiful wonders this world has to offer. Remember, although your favorite restaurants and hang out spots are closed right now, nature is still open for business! That's why we've put together some of our favorite Minnesota state parks to encourage you to get out there and explore your Northland. 


1. Interstate State Park

Of course, we had to start with our home base: the beautiful Taylors Falls, Minnesota! The Northland Clothing Company was founded here for a reason. Located on the St. Croix River, Interstate Park features breathtaking cliffside views, waters for canoeing and kayaking, hiking trails, and impressive glacial potholes. Interstate is a must do for your state park adventures!


Photo by Erin Sandell

2. Gooseberry Falls State Park

Gooseberry Falls is arguably one of the most popular state parks on the North Shore. With its biking and hiking trails, camping locations, and stunning waterfalls, Gooseberry Falls is a gem of the bold North. 


Photo by Tyler Schank

3. Itasca State Park

Itasca State Park is located near Bemidji, Minnesota and is home to Lake Itasca, the headwaters of the Mississippi River. It was established in 1891, making it Minnesota's oldest state park. Today, it is an ideal location for camping, boating, and fishing.


Photo from exploreminnesota.com

4. Whitewater State Park

One of Whitewater State Park's most striking features is that it is surrounded by rocky bluffs in Winona, Minnesota. It is known for its spectacular flowers in the spring, rugged hiking trails through the majestic bluffs, and some also claim that there is a noticeable lack of mosquitos in the area. That definitely sounds worth checking out to us! 


Photo from the MN DNR

 5. Fort Snelling State Park

Located within minutes from St. Paul and Minneapolis, Fort Snelling State Park is home to trails through Pike Island, which is where the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers meet. It's also a great place to spot wildlife, like white-tailed deer that roam the park. Fort Snelling is the perfect location for those who want to escape bustling city life and stay in touch with the natural world.


Photo by Chris Chavie

6. Afton State Park

Afton is located just east of the Twin Cities in the historic Hastings, Minnesota. It features a prairie-like landscape, with plenty of opportunities for fishing, swimming, and hiking. It's also a very popular bird-watching and picnicking location. Essentially, Afton is the perfect park for families interested in outdoor recreation. 


Photo by Mark Lissick 

7. Lake Maria State Park

As we step into spring, Lake Maria is ideal for those looking to see some gorgeous blooming wildflowers. Located in Monticello Minnesota, not far from St. Cloud, Lake Maria is great for hikers looking to explore some gorgeous scenery on the Bjorkland Trail. Backpack campsites and camper cabins are also available year-round, making Lake Maria a treasure for campers. 


Photo by Nancy Sims

8. Jay Cooke State Park

Jay Cooke is found just southwest of scenic Duluth, Minnesota. It's known for the wild waters of the St. Louis River and the iconic swinging bridge that sways above it. It's the perfect park for those looking to hike the day away or try their hand at horseback riding through the trails of the park. 


Photo from the MN DNR

9. Grand Portage State Park

We're absolutely positive Grand Portage will take your breath away! Not only does it feature Minnesota's highest waterfall but is a cultural experience as well, as it features several displays of the traditions of the Grand Portage Ojibwe people. Located at the very tip of Northern Minnesota in Grand Portage itself, this park is a must do for any Minnesotan explorer. 


Photo from tripadvisor.com

10. William O'Brian State Park

Finally, we bring our list back to central Minnesota. William O'Brian, just a short drive away from Taylors Falls in Marine on St. Croix, Minnesota, is a great park for bird watching and canoeing on the St. Croix River. Explore diverse wildlife along the dozens of beautiful trails and take a break from the stresses of everyday life in this gorgeous, very accessible park. 


Photo from http://hikeswithtykes.blogspot.com



Although we absolutely love all of these parks and highly recommend you check them out if you're able to, there are so many more spread across all of Minnesota just waiting to be explored. As the weather warms up this spring, we here at the Northland encourage all of you to get out and explore!