Looking for a place to escape the crowds? Luckily, there are many hidden spots around Minnesota that most people don’t know about. These off-the-grid destinations are guaranteed to take you away from it all.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Shadow Falls Park
Have you ever heard of Shadow Falls Park? Most people haven't. This St. Paul destination is a small park along the Mississippi River with walking and biking trails and a great view. But the real off-the-grid adventure begins when you step off the paved trail. Follow a rugged dirt path along the top of a deep gorge, and you'll be treated with the beautiful sight of St. Paul's hidden waterfall.
2. Sakatah Singing Hills State Park
As one of Minnesota's lesser known state parks, Sakatah Singing Hills is a lovely place to evade the big crowds you'll find at a more popular park. A 39-mile trail runs through this 800-acre park, offering understated beauty as it winds through the trees. If you want to be on water, try Sakatah Lake for both paddling and fishing.
3. The Lost 40
Who knew a 100-year-old surveying mistake could lead to one of Minnesota's greatest treasures? Today, 140 acres of old-growth forest stands in northern Minnesota. Here, you can hike through large groups of huge trees unlike anything else that remains in Minnesota. A trip to this hidden spot is guaranteed to be quiet.
4. Jeffers Petroglyphs
Jeffers Petroglyphs is an historic outcrop of quartzite tucked away among prairie grasses. Hundreds of ancient drawings, or petroglyphs, mark the stone. Some are believed to be up to 7,000 years old. There are also old wagon tracks cutting across the stone, a subtle reminder of when this land was settled by Europeans.
5. Minneopa State Park
Lots of people know about Minneopa State Park, but far fewer visit it. The partk has roughly 162,000 annual visitors. Compare that to the over 600,000 who visit Gooseberry Falls each year, and you can see why this is considered an off-the-grid destination. Beyond hiking trails, the park offers a spectacular two-tier waterfall, which can be viewed from an historic stone bridge. It looks like something out of a movie - especially in the fall.
6. Beaver Creek Valley State Park
Most people haven't heard of this little state park in southeastern Minnesota, and maybe that's a good thing. As they take in the beauty of this little park, they can also enjoy the quiet. From the park's 8 miles of trails, you'll have the chance to see a variety of diverse wildlife.
7. Kilen Woods State Park
You'll find Kilen Woods State Park near Lakefield, a tiny town not far north of the Iowa border. Here, you'll find numerous trails through oak forest, hilly slopes surrounding the valley, and colorful wildflowers growing among the prairie grasses. Camping or hiking at this park is sure to clear your head.
8. Chippewa National Forest
Chippewa National Forest is a vast swath of land covering more than 600,000 acres. Among the aspen, pine, and birch forests are more than 1,300 lakes. Should you choose to visit, you'll find nothing more peaceful than pitching your tent near a lakeshore and watching the sun sink behind the trees.
9. Voyageurs National Park
What makes Voyageurs National Park an off-the-grid destination? Most of the park can only be accessed by boat. To navigate its 218,000 acres, you'll have to leave our car - and your cares - behind. The park is home to part of four huge lakes, including Rainy, Kabetogama, Namakan, and Sand Point. There are many places to pitch a tent around any of these lakes, giving you access to fantastic fishing as well as the serene beauty of northern Minnesota.
10. Big Bog State Recreation Area
Did you know Minnesota is home to the largest peat bog in the Lower 48? You can visit it in northern Minnesota, about 270 miles north of the Twin Cities. The bog itself covers 500 square miles, and visitors can get an up-close look by taking a stroll on the mile-long boardwalk. The bog is home to many interesting plant and wildlife species, such as carnivorous sundew plants. With fewer than 100,000 visitors to Big Bog each year, this location is just the right amount of quiet to help you get away.
11. Pillsbury State Forest
Pillsbury State Forest was Minnesota's first state forest. But today, it is certainly not the most well known. The forest is located in Cass County, and it's home to many trails that wind through the trees. Visitors may also find many wildflower varieties and animal life. In the 25,000 acre forest, you're not likely to find many other people in this off-the-grid destination.
Do you know of any other off-the-grid destinations you’re willing to share? Feel free to let us know in the comments below!