to the southwest and pine forests to the
northeast. It o;ers 1, 154 acres of hills
do;ed with maple and basswood forest,
marshes and tamarack bogs, wrapped
around a deep, clear lake with good
fishing for walleye, northern pike, bass
Sightings of deer, beavers, loons,
herons and dozens of other species
are common on the lake or along the
park’s 14 miles of hiking trails and 9
miles of horseback riding trails. Two
campgrounds o;er 121 individual sites,
81 with electric hookups, as well as four
Bear Head Lake State Park, 20
miles southwest of Ely, won an online
contest in 2010 as “America’s Favorite
Park,” capturing nearly a third of the
5. 7 million votes. (A popular webcam of
a black bear and her cubs contributed
to the victory.) Near the 2 million-acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area
Wilderness, the park o;ers a unique
opportunity to experience a remote,
Boundary Waters-like experience, but
with drive-in sites, hot showers and all
the amenities of a modern campground.
Bear Head Lake is quiet and beautiful,
great for canoeing, but also open to
motorboats with a 10 mph speed limit.
Canoe rentals are available, and there is
access for those with their own boats.
The park has 73 drive-in campsites, 45
with electric hookups, as well as several
remote hike-in sites and one accessible
only by boat. Several trails loop through
particularly gorgeous country, some of
it fairly rugged.
Blue Mounds State Park in the
southwest corner of the state is
distinguished by its 1,500 acres
of ancient prairie and a small but
distinctive herd of bison, which has
been tested and found to be one of
the purest surviving strains of wild
bison. The park also has a population of
coyotes whose howls can occasionally
be heard, as well as deer and a wide
variety of prairie-loving birds.
The prairie sits on top of a massive,
dramatic cli; of Sioux quartzite, 1. 5
miles long and 90 feet high in some
spots. This remnant of the vast prairies
that once covered the region survived
largely because the quartzite made the
grasslands too di;cult to plow.
Blue Mounds has 71 drive-in
campsites, 40 with electric, and 14 more
remote cart-in campsites, plus a canvas
tipi that sleeps six.
William O’Brien State Park, less than
an hour northeast of Minneapolis-St.
Paul near Marine on St. Croix, o;ers
great canoeing on the St. Croix River and
fishing for northern pike, walleye, bass
and brook trout. Canoe and kayak rentals
are available. Day visitors can enjoy the
large picnic grounds with a shelter and a
swimming beach at Lake Alice.
Some 16 miles of hiking trails wind
along the river and through the river’s
floodplain, oak savanna, upland prairie
and wetlands. Wildlife is plentiful,
including mink, beavers, woodchucks,
deer, foxes, bald eagles, hawks, herons
and many more.
Campers can choose from 114 drive-in
sites, 71 with electric hookups, as well as
four camper cabins.
Three Rivers Park District
Managing 25 parks in suburban
communities of five Twin Cities-area
counties, the district system provides
extensive opportunities for hiking, camping,
swimming, boating and more over almost
27,000 acres. They’re great family parks,
many with nature centers, interpretive
programs and large playgrounds.
Minnehaha Regional Park
A 65-foot waterfall on Minnehaha Creek,
easy trails along the creek to where it flows
into the Mississippi River, beautiful picnic
grounds and an excellent seafood eatery by
the falls make this one of the most popular
of the city’s dozens of parks.
Como Regional Park
Highlights of St. Paul’s most popular city
park are a free, family-friendly zoo next to
a small amusement park, the magnificent
Marjorie McNeely Conservatory, a pavilion
on the shores of Lake Como with a
restaurant and frequent free entertainment,
and a large picnic area among countless
beautiful, mature oak trees.
BLUE MOUNDS STATE PARK, LUVERNE