Minnesota State Parks

An index to all sixty-four of Minnesota's state parks.

1) Lake Bronson 2) Old Mill 3) Hayes Lake 4) Zippel Bay 5) Franz Jevne 6) Buffalo River 7) Maplewood 8) Little Elbow Lake 9) Itasca 10) Lake Bemidji 11) Schoolcraft 12) Scenic 13) McCarthy Beach 14) Tower Soudan 15) Bear Head Lake 16) Gooseberry Falls 17) Split Rock Lighthouse 18) Tettegouche 19) George H. Crosby Manitou 20) Temperance River 21) Cascade River 22) Judge C.R. Magney 23) Jay Cooke 24) Savanna Portage 25) Crow Wing 26) Lake Carlos 27) Charles A. Lindbergh 28) Mille Lacs Kathio 29) Father Hennepin 30) Banning 31) Moose Lake 32) St. Croix 33) Wild River 34) Interstate 35) William O'Brien 36) Afton 37) Fort Snelling 38) Minnesota Valley Trail 39) Lake Maria 40) Sibley 41) Monson Lake 42) Glacial Lakes 43) Big Stone Lake 44) Lac Qui Parle 45) Upper Sioux Agency 46) Fort Ridgely 47) Flandrau 48) Minneopa 49) Sakatah Lake 50) Rice Lake 51) Nerstrand Woods 52) Frontenac 53) Carley 54) Whitewater 55) O.L. Kipp 56) Beaver Creek Valley 57) Forestville 58) Lake Louis 59) Helmer Myre 60) Kilen Woods 61) Lake Shetek 62) Camden 63) Split Rock Creek 64) Blue Mounds

Below, and listed alphabetically, are the addresses as well as general descriptions of each State Park as provided by the DNR. Additional comments on birds and birding in these parks have been added. These remarks are intended to be brief. For considerably more detail, consult Kim Eckert's A Birder's Guide to Minnesota, Fourth Edition, 2003. Numbers following place names will return you to the map when clicked on.

AFTON (36) Wilderness atmosphere of forested hills and prairie on the St. Croix River near the metro area. Worth exploring at any time of year, habitat includes deciduous and coniferous woods, and fields. 6959 Peller Ave S, Hastings 55033

BANNING (30) Spectacular rapids of the Kettle River with trails past ruins of historic sandstone quarry. Birding is typical for central Minnesota, with many nesting species, and perhaps a few good trails for warbler watching during spring migration. PO Box V, Sandstone 55072

BEAR HEAD LAKE (15) Wilderness setting with abundant wildlife and good fishing on undeveloped lakes and streams. Some northern specialties likely here include Black-backed Woodpecker, Boreal Chickadee and perhaps 20 species of warbler. Spruce Grouse are probably nearby. Star Route 2, Box 5700, Ely 55731

BEAVER CREEK VALLEY (56) Springfed Beaver Creek winds its way through a scenic valley formed by rugged limestone bluffs. One of the best places in the state for Acadian Flycatcher, Cerulean Warbler and Louisiana Waterthrush. Tufted Titmouse also possible. Rt 2. Box 57, Caledonia 55921

BIG STONE LAKE (43) Uncrowded campgrounds and good fishing at the source of the Minnesota River. A good migrant trap, and an excellent birding spot, should be checked during migration for warblers as well as possible Casual species, such as California Gull or Say's Phoebe. Also, western birds that occasionally wander eastward into Minnesota. Rt 1, Box 153, Ortonville 56278

BLUE MOUNDS (64) Buffalo now graze on historic prairie hunting grounds of the Sioux. The mound has long been a visual reference for travelers. One of the best birding spots in the state, specialties are Upland Sandpiper, Sedge Wren, Orchard Oriole and Blue Grosbeak. Also great for the occasional rarity such as Ferruginous Hawk or Mountain Bluebird. Rt 1, Luverne 56156

BUFFALO RIVER (6) One of the state's largest remaining virgin prairies, broken by a shady river bed along an ancient beach ridge of Glacial Lake Agassiz. Woodlands situated in among western prairie tracts, this park is probably good as a migrant trap. But just north of the park is Minnesota's well known Felton Prairie. Look here for nesting Chestnut-collared Longspur, Swainson's Hawk, Greater Prairie-Chicken, Marbled Godwit and Le Conte's Sparrow. Also possible is Prairie Falcon or Sprague's Pipit. Rt 2, Box 118, Glyndon 56547

CAMDEN (62) Long a refreshing oasis for travelers across the prairie, this cool, wooded river valley descends from the open prairie, providing home for a wide variety of plants and animals. Good in migration because of its wooded areas along the Redwood River, and in winter for over-wintering species taking advantage of cover and usually open water. Lynd 56157

CARLEY (53) Scenic pine-covered hills overlook the Whitewater River with its rugged steep-sloped valley. Interesting habitat and southeastern specialties, this park is probably way under-birded. Rt 1, Box 65, Plainview 55964

CASCADE RIVER (21) Spectacular falls along the Cascade River gorge as it drops to Lake Superior. Probably best in fall and early winter, anything is possible here. Migrating species from the north are always likely here beginning in August. HCR 3, Box 450, Lutsen 55612

CHARLES A. LINDBERGH (27) Forested spot with excellent access to Mississippi River; boyhood home of the famous aviator. Probably there is better birding to the southeast where nesting species include Wilson's Phalarope and Upland Sandpiper. Rt 3, Box 246, Little Falls 56345

CROW WING (25) Historic site of Crow Wing village, important in native American and white settlement history, located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Crow Wing rivers. Standard central Minnesota fare, look for Red-shouldered Hawk, both Cuckoos and a few warblers. Rt 3, Box 342, Brainerd 56401

FATHER HENNEPIN (29) Extensive forested shoreline on Mille Lacs Lake with excellent water recreation opportunities. Mille Lacs Lake can be very interesting in fall and early winter. Any migrant passerine is a possibility, and the lake can have equally rare waterbirds. Unusual loons, ducks and gulls are always to be looked for. Box 397, Isle 56342

FLANDRAU (47) Wooded bluffs along Cottonwood River provide impressive backdrop for walking, skiing and wildlife observation. Good in summer for deep woodland birds such as Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Wood Thrush and Scarlet Tanager. Under-birded and highly recommended. 1300 Summit Ave, New Ulm 56073

FORESTVILLE (57) Natural beauty of wooded valleys and trout streams enclose a late 1800s townsite. The entire Forestville area has promise for good southeastern species among the winding roads and dense woods. Look for Wild Turkey, Whip-poor-will, Cerulean Warbler and perhaps a Yellow-breasted Chat. Rt 2, Box 128, Preston 55965

FORT RIDGELY (46) Rolling prairies and wooded river valleys now cover this historic site where some of the fiercest battles of the Dakota Conflict of 1862 were fought. Similar in appearance and location to Flandrau. Rt 1, Box 65, Fairfax 55332

FORT SNELLING (37) Forested river valley park hosts abundant wildlife within the metropolitan area, at the junction of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers. Just south of the Twin Cities, it can be good for migrants, though unfortunatly too close to the airport. Highway 5 and Post Road, St. Paul 55111

FRANZ JEVNE (5) Scenic park along the shores of Rainy River on the international border. Anywhere in this county is worth birding. Though perhaps not in the park, you can look nearby for boreal specialties such as Northern Three-toed Woodpecker, Boreal Chickadee or Great Gray Owl. Very under-birded. Rt. 3, Box 201, Birchdale 56629

FRONTENAC (52) Wooded bluffs high above the Mississippi River provide excellent vistas of Lake Pepin. Known as a good migrant trap, as many as 27 species of warbler have been recorded here in a day. Rt 2, Box 230, Lake City 55041

GEORGE H. CROSBY MANITOU (19) Backpacking and hiking trails cross rugged rock and forest area along the cascading Manitou River. Southbound migrants following the north shore of Lake Superior make this spot worth checking from August into December. Box 482, Finland 55603

GLACIAL LAKES (42) High, open prairie hills and glacial ridges surrounding a sparkling clear lake. Grebes, gulls and terns visit Lake Minnewaska just north of here. In the park, look for grassland and prairie birds. Rt 2, Box 126, Starbuck 56381

GOOSEBERRY FALLS (16) The Gooseberry River drops through a series of spectacular falls and rapids to the rocky shore of Lake Superior. Similar to other parks of Lake Superior's north shore, this park has its greatest potential for rarities in the late fall. 1300 Highway 61 East, Two Harbors 55616

HAYES LAKE (3) Pristine northwoods pine forest in a remote lake setting provides opportunities to observe some of Minnesota's less common birds and wildlife. Roseau County is one of Minnesota's best for birding. Anything is possible at any time of year. Look here and nearby for boreal species such as Boreal Chickadee, Great Gray Owl and Black-backed Woodpecker. Star Rt 4, Roseau 56751

HELMER MYRE (59) Glacial evidence dots the park among remnants of once vast prairie pothole region; gathering ground for thousands of white pelicans in spring and fall. Also known as Myre-Big Island State Park. Typical southern Minnesota habitat, worth a stop probably only in migration. Rt 3, Box 33, Albert Lea 56007

INTERSTATE (34) Towering basalt cliffs, gigantic potholes and sandstone bluffs carved by glacial meltwater, along St. Croix River. A good migrant trap in some years, it also hosts several good summer birds, including Red-shouldered Hawk, Ruffed Grouse and probably Louisiana Waterthrush. Box 254, Taylors Falls 55084

ITASCA (9) Fifty square miles of pristine lakes and virgin pines surrounding the source of the Mississippi River. Good for all around birding, don't expect anything rare here, but do expect a great variety of species. Lake Itasca 56460

JAY COOKE (23) Scenic vistas of the rocky gorge of the St. Louis River. Good for nesting species such as Ruffed Grouse, Yellow-throated Vireo, Golden-winged, Mourning, and probably Connecticut Warblers. Good in winter for finches and crossbills. 500 E Hwy 210, Carlton 55718

JUDGE C.R. MAGNEY (22) Turbulent rapids and falls of the Brule River featuring the remarkable Devil's Kettle Waterfall. This park and the surrounding area is good at all times of the year but especially in late fall when anything is possible. At any time of year look for Black-backed and Northern Three-toed Woodpeckers, Spruce Grouse and Boreal Chickadees. Grand Marais 55604

KILEN WOODS (60) Oak savanna, woods prairie and rare plants along the valley of the Des Moines River contrast surrounding agricultural area. Dense woods make this park ideal for birding during migration. Rt 1, Box 122, Lakefield 56150-9566

LAC QUI PARLE (44) Dense woods along the lake shore of Lac qui Parle and the Minnesota River provide a haven for migrating waterfowl. A relatively interesting park (best during migration) in one of the best counties for birding. If you have the time, be sure to bird the surrounding are, especially to the west. Rt 5, Box 74A, Montevideo 56265

LAKE BEMIDJI (10) Popular year round recreation with exceptional water-based opportunities amid virgin pine forests and a pristine northern bog. Good for ducks and grebes during migration and probably a few pine forest birds in spring and summer. 3401 State Park Rd NE, Bemidji 56601

LAKE BRONSON (1) Water-based recreation abounds among the colorful prairie and savanna; moose occasionally seen in park. Probably better for campers than birders, can still be productive, especialy since it has one of the few lakes in the area. May hold some surprises. Box 218, Lake Bronson 56734

LAKE CARLOS (26) Steeply rolling deciduous forests and tamarack bogs meet the deep clean lake, noted for its abundance of game fish. Another park popular to campers, probably best birded in the spring. Rt 2, Box 240, Carlos 56319

LAKE LOUISE (58) Sparkling lake and abundant wildlife are found in this natural oasis in the rich farmland of Southern Minnesota. If you're in the area, stop in for a look, but don't expect much. The park is small, and the birding is probably better elsewhere. Still, this is an under-birded area, and south eastern rarities, such as Yellow-breasted Chat or Louisiana Waterthrush are always a possibility. Rt 1, Box 184, LeRoy 55951

LAKE MARIA (39) Rough, wooded terrain dotted with several lakes, ponds and marshes characterize terminal moraines left here by the last glacier. Deep woodland birds such as Ruffed Grouse and Barred Owl make this park interesting, if not exactly exciting. Rt 1, Box 128, Monticello 55362

LAKE SHETEK (61) An important site during the 1862 Dakota Conflict; today a popular water recreation area. Good woods, good location and good potential make this under-birded park (and county) a good place to explore. Western birds are always a possibility, especially on the lake or along the shore. Rt 1, Box 164, Currie 56123

LITTLE ELBOW LAKE (8) Quiet hardwood-covered hills surround a tranquil northwoods lake. A little known park in a little known county (Mahnomen) make the possibilities interesting. Yellow Rails have been known to nest just west of here. Rt 2, Box 147, Waubun 56589

MAPLEWOOD (7) Steep, wooded glacial hills of maple trees with more than 50 ponds, marshes and lakes, abundant wildlife and outstanding fall colors. For a park this far west and north, it is a little surprising to find some birds more typical of the south eastern part of the state, such as Yellow-throated Vireo, Cerulean Warbler and Northern Cardinal. This makes this park all the more interesting because of the western possibilities as well. Rt 3, Box 422, Pelican Rapids 56572

McCARTHY BEACH (13) Extensive sand beaches and clear lakes in the midst of a virgin pine forest. Anything is possible in the county (St. Louis), and this park, though not well known, offers much potential. In summer look for pine wood birds; in winter maybe a Snowy Owl on the lake or a Gyrfalcon nearby. In migration you may find upwards of 150 species in a single day. HCR 5,.Box 341, Hibbing 55746

MILLE LACS KATHIO (28) Important prehistoric and historic area, including seat of Dakota Nation now with outstanding wooded trail system. Migrants in fall are funneled around Mille Lacs Lake, so fall migration is good for passerines as well as water birds such as loon, scoters, and a few shorebirds. Maybe a Snowy Owl will be out on the frozen lake in winter. Star Rt, Box 85, Onamia 56359

MINNEOPA (48) Oak-strewn prairie dotted with giant glacial boulders gives way to the spectacular tumble of the twin Minneopa Falls. Field birds such as Upland Sandpiper and Grasshopper Sparrow as well as woodland birds like Wood Thrush and Scarlet Tanager are possible here. Rt 9, Box 143, Mankato 56001

MINNESOTA VALLEY TRAIL (38) The placid Minnesota River winds past meadows, river-bottom forests and several remnants of late 1800s farmsteads. An interesting area, but not well known or birded, still offers good places to explore. Flooded fields in spring and fall may produce good shorebirding possibilities. 19825 Park Blvd, Jordan 55352

MONSON LAKE (41) A mixture of hardwood forests, wetlands and lakes provides excellent habitat for a wide variety of birds and other wildlife. Probably best birded in spring or fall, might harbor some interesting species in early summer as well. Sunburg 56289

MOOSE LAKE (31) Recreation opportunities on two lakes, and easy access to Interstate 35. Ruffed Grouse, Alder Flycatcher and Golden-winged Warbler make this park interesting, though suprisingly poorly known. Northern and southern species are possible here. 1000 County 137, Moose Lake 55767

NERSTRAND WOODS (51) Outstanding remnant of pre-settlement "Big Woods," secluded valleys and wide variety of plant and animal life. Great birding spot, well know for many years. Has produced White-eyed Vireo; it hosts nesting Cerulean and Blue-winged Warblers. Heavily visited by people interested in things other than birds, still always worth a visit. 9700-170th St E, Nerstrand 55053

O.L. KIPP (55) Panoramic vistas of the Mississippi River Valley from the high wooded bluffs of the park. Best known for its nesting Henslow's Sparrows, this park is also good for other south eastern species as well. Maybe you'll find a Sedge Wren or a Grasshopper Sparrow. Rt 4, Winona 55987

OLD MILL (2) Typical prairie terrain is broken by a rolling river valley and historic steam-powered mill and farmstead. Good for migrant birding, you might also find a few prairie species is summer. Rt 1, Box 42, Argyle 56713

RICE LAKE (50) Deciduous virgin forest surrounds lakes, and shelters many varieties of native plants and wildlife. There are lots of Rice Lakes in Minnesota; this one is in Steele County. This is a good lake for migrating waterfowl, and five species of grebe have been found here in spring. Rt 3, Box 45, Owatonna 55060

ST. CROIX (32) Minnesota's largest State Park on the banks of the St. Croix and Kettle Rivers, with extensive recreation opportunities among forests of pine birch and oak. Probably best for birding during migration. Rt 3, Box 174, Hinckley 55037

SAKATAH LAKE (49) Rolling landscape of hills and ravines, varying from "Big Woods" to prairie, with access to Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail. A rim of trees and long trails around the lake, this park is good in spring and early summer. Look for cuckoos and warblers. Rt 2, Box 19, Waterville 55096

SAVANNA PORTAGE (24) Wilderness setting with several lakes; contains historic voyageurs' portage trail linking the Mississippi River and Lake Superior watersheds. Little known park with good potential. Look for warblers such as Connecticut and Golden-winged in summer, and maybe a Great Gray Owl, Northern Goshawk or Gyrfalcon in winter. HCR 3, Box 591, McGregor 55760

SCENIC (12) Wilderness northwoods setting of undeveloped lakes amongst virgin pine forests with abundant wildlife. Good for real boreal species. Look for Spruce Grouse, Northern Three-toed and Black-backed Woodpecker, and maybe a Boreal Chickadee. Bigfork 56628

SCHOOLCRAFT (11) Along the banks of the Mississippi River, historic Indian wild-ricing site surrounded by forest of giant pines. More of northern Minnesota's good birding, this lesser known park either offers - or is near habitat that offers - such good possibilities as Black-backed Woodpecker, Boreal Chickadee or perhaps a Great Gray Owl (in winter). HCR 4, Box 181, Deer River 56636

SIBLEY (40) Sandy shore of Lake Andrew gives way to hardwood forests rising to Mt. Tom, which provides an excellent view of surrounding forests, prairie knolls and farmland. Good park for cuckoos, tanagers and other woodland birds. A Yellow-throated Warbler (Casual) spent a summer here not once but twice. Rt 2, Box 700, New London 56273

SPLIT ROCK CREEK (63) Exceptional remnants of native prairie, with wooded areas and Split Rock Lake, make this a popular year-round recreation site. Grebes, ducks and gulls on the lake, and migrant passerines along the shore. Rt 2, Jasper 56144

SPLIT ROCK LIGHTHOUSE (17) Historic lighthouse along the rocky shores of Lake Superior; excellent views of Lake Superior and trails along the shoreline. Around the lighthouse can sometimes produce good birding, especially in the fall. Birding is better in the park than at the lighthouse. 3755 Split Rock Lighthouse Road, Two Harbors 55616

TEMPERANCE RIVER (20) Unique falls, rapids, potholes and cauldrons along the Temperance River gorge as it cascades to Lake Superior. Great for late fall migrants and winter visitants, this is the spot of Minnesota's first American Dipper record. Box 33, Schroeder 55613

TETTEGOUCHE (18) Rugged, semi-mountainous terrain surrounds four wilderness lakes on Lake Superior's North Shore, year-round recreation information center. An excellent spot for nesting warblers, look for Canada, Black-throated Green, and especially Black-throated Blue. 474 Hwy 61 E, Silver Bay 55614

TOWER SOUDAN (14) Historic tour of the oldest and deepest underground iron ore mine in the country. The park is the site of a large mine, but birding may be productive nearby. Maybe you can head over to nearby Bear Head State park to the east. PO Box 335, Soudan 55782

UPPER SIOUX AGENCY (45) Historic site of the government outpost on the banks of the Yellow Medicine and Minnesota Rivers. Yellow Medicine County has some of the more interesting birding areas, especially in the far west. If birding in the park is slow, drive the roads to the west and look for Lark Buntings, Chestnut-collared Longspurs, or maybe a Ferruginous Hawk or Say's Phoebe. Rt 2, Box 92, Granite Falls 56241

WHITEWATER (54) Limestone cliffs, trout streams and hardwood forests along the Whitewater River Valley blufflands. Good any time of year, look in spring for migrating shorebirds and warblers; in summer for Tufted Titmouse or Louisiana Waterthrush; in fall for Wild Turkey and migrating passerines; and in winter for Golden Eagle and finches at the feeders. Rt 1, Box 256, Altura 55910

WILD RIVER (33) Miles of forested trails along the valley of the National St. Croix River Way provide wilderness setting near Twin Cities. Similar to St. Croix State Park, this park is probably best during spring migration. In summer, Ruffed Grouse and Red-shouldered Hawk are possible. Rt 1, Box 75, Center City 55012

WILLIAM O'BRIEN (35) Year-round recreation on the wild and scenic St. Croix River, among rolling wooded hills and flood plain forests. Because it is so close to the Twin Cities, it may be filled with people on weekends. Still, in spring, it may be worth a visit. 16821 O'Brien Trail N, Marine on St. Croix 55047

ZIPPEL BAY (4) Wild and rustic beach with protected boat harbor on ocean-like Lake of the Woods. Endangered Piping Plovers nest near here in small numbers, and in late fall check the water for loons, sea ducks, jaegers and unusual gulls. Williams 56686

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