Minnesota. The North Star State. The Gopher State. Land of 10,000 Lakes. Whatever you want to call it, our state has a rich culture centered around nature. There are so many outdoor activities that it sometimes seems impossible to see all the natural beauty Minnesota has to offer. That’s why we’ve come up with the ultimate bucket list for Minnesotans who love the outdoors.
1. Voyageurs National Park
As Minnesota's one and only national park, Voyageurs draws in around 200,000 visitors per year. But you won't see them when you visit. Voyageurs National Park is located in a remote region of northern Minnesota - so remote, in fact, that the main part of the park can only be accessed by water. But it's worth it. The fishing is some of the best in the state, and you may even catch a glimpse of an elusive moose or timber wolf.
2. Itasca State Park
Walking across the Mississippi headwaters at Itasca State Park is so quintessentially Minnesotan that it's basically a rite of passage. This is where the Great River Road begins, making it an important place both in Minnesota and the entire United States. If walking across the the Mighty Mississippi isn't your thing, great hiking trails and lake views should more than make up for it.
3. Superior National Forest
This national forest contains nearly four million acres of dense forest in Minnesota's Arrowhead region. It's so large, in fact, that it takes up parts of three different counties. This mixed North Woods forest is gorgeous all year, but autumn is definitely the best time to hike its trails. Bonus: Minnesota's highest point, Eagle Mountain, is located within the forest.
4. Tettegouche State Park
Tettegouche is one of Minnesota's most popular state parks. Here you'll find the rushing Baptism River falls and two of the most photographed spots in all of Minnesota: Palisade Head and Shovel Point. These rocky cliffs overlooking Lake Superior alone make for a great photo op and are definitely worthy of the outdoor bucket list. The waterfall is just a bonus.
5. Niagara Cave
Is a cave outdoors? We think so. This cave in southern Minnesota displays a different side of Mother Nature. A tour will expose you to a series of subterranean passageways carved by an underground stream. Better yet, you'll get a glimpse of an underground waterfall!
6. Boundary Waters Canoe Area
No Minnesota outdoor bucket list would be complete without the Boundary Waters. You could even argue that no outdoor bucket list
anywhere would be complete without it. The Boundary Waters consist over one million acres of unspoiled wilderness. You can't say you've experienced the Minnesota outdoors until you've spent at least one night in a backcountry campsite there.
7. Blue Mounds State Park
With all the talk of lakes, it's easy to forget that Minnesota lies right on the edge of the Great Plains. This state park in southwestern Minnesota offers a taste of the prairie just as you've always pictured it: tall grass, wildflowers, and buffalo. That's right - the park protects a herd of over 100 bison. The park's other notable feature is the range of pink quartzite cliffs that rise over the prairie.
8. Interstate State Park
The main attraction at Interstate State Park is the dalles of the St. Croix River. Along with the river, these rocky cliffs separate Minnesota and Wisconsin. If you look closely, you can find some of the dalles' most famous formations, like Old Man of the Dalles or the Lion's Head. Also take a look at the deep potholes that pit the area.
9. Gooseberry Falls
Gooseberry Falls is one of Minnesota's most popular outdoor destinations, but that doesn't make it any less beautiful. It's a great spot north of Duluth that is perfect for a day trip. Or, if you prefer to spend the night, the park does have campsites and hiking trails for those who want a longer stay.
10. Minneopa State Park
Minneopa State Park in Mankato is home to the beautiful Minneopa Falls. A pedestrian bridge runs between the upper and lower falls, offering great views on all sides. The park's other attraction is the bison herd that roams freely over 331 acres of the park. Try the bison drive and you just might get to see one up close.