Did you know Minnesota has the second-oldest state park system in the United States? The Land of 10,000 Lakes entered the park game when Lake Itasca State Park was established in 1891. Since then, 66 more state parks have opened in Minnesota. Among them are immensely beautiful parks such as Fort Snelling and Gooseberry Falls. However, there are many others that are overlooked in favor of these popular destinations. That’s why we’ve identified 11 of the best state parks to visit in Minnesota. The next time you’re on the hunt for a nature outing, be sure to check out these underappreciated state parks.

Are we missing anything? What are your favorite Minnesota state parks? Let us know in the comments below.


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state parks to visit in Minnesota

What's the smallest state park in Minnesota?

Consisting of approximately 120 acres, Franz Jevne State Park in Birchdale is Minnesota's smallest state park. It's located along the southern shoreline of the Rainy River and offers a few basic amenities, including fire rings, picnic tables, and some unpaved trails. Franz Jevne State Park is a great place to spend an afternoon. It's also a wonderful place to sit and have a relaxing lunch while being surrounded by the beauty of nature. Numerous people visit this state park each year. One of the main reasons is because it offers a variety of things to do outside in Minnesota such as fishing, camping, hiking, and more.

Where can I find the largest state park in Minnesota?

St. Croix State Park in Hinckley covers approximately 34,000 acres, making it Minnesota's largest state park. It's also one of the best parks in Minnesota for an unforgettable day trip. Established in 1943, St. Croix State Park follows the shore of the St. Croix River for 21 miles. While at this state park, visitors will get to experience many types of recreational activities. From hiking and mountain biking, to fishing and camping, there's something for all ages to enjoy. St. Croix State Park is also a great place to go swimming and canoeing. There's no denying that St. Croix State Park is one of the best state parks in Minnesota. Anyone who visits this sprawling state park will also never run out of things to do.

What's the oldest state park in Minnesota?

Itasca State Park in Park Rapids is one of the best state parks in Minnesota. Established in 1891, it's also the state's oldest state park. Interestingly, it's also the second-oldest state park in the entire U.S., with the first one being Niagara Falls State Park in New York. Covering nearly 33,000 acres, Itasca State Park offers a great selection of outdoor activities for all ages, including kayaking, canoeing, camping, birding, and more. It's also home to some of the best hiking trails in Minnesota. Another popular feature at Itasca State Park is its historic Douglas Lodge, a popular lodging facility. Each year, approximately 500,000 people visit Itasca State Park, and you'll also want to make plans to visit soon.

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