If you’re looking for an outdoor adventure that’s far from the bustle of big cities, Minnesota is home to a few national parks worth visiting.
Voyageurs National Park is a maze of interconnected lakes, islands and forests, and the perfect destination for an unforgettable family vacation.
It’s also a great place to watch for the Northern Lights, which are often visible from November through April.
Voyageurs National Park is a natural wonderland in the heart of the North American continent. Located in the upper northwest corner of Minnesota, this pristine wilderness is a place of transition between land and aquatic ecosystems, wetlands and forests.
The park is home to a wide array of wildlife including wolves, moose and white-tailed deer. You can also find a variety of birds and insects throughout the park.
This is a great destination for kids who want to explore and learn about nature. There are free walking garden tours and paddling canoe adventures available in the spring and summer.
In the winter, ice fishing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing are all popular activities. Be sure to check trail and ice reports before venturing out in the cold.
Located along the northern shore of Lake Superior, Grand Portage National Monument preserves a vital center of fur trade activity and Anishinaabeg Ojibwe heritage. Its rugged hills, boggy lowlands, shear rock cliffs, sandy beaches and deep Lake Superior make it the perfect place for outdoor adventure.
The reconstructed depot on the lake offers visitors an up-close view of life at Grand Portage in the late 1700s. Inside, you’ll see the Great Hall, where company partners dined and traded; the Kitchen; Cedar-Picket Palisade and Warehouse that served as a secure storage facility; a Fur Press; and a Lookout Tower.
The park’s Heritage Center overlooks the reconstructed fur trading post and features exhibit galleries interpreting Ojibwe culture and the fur trade. It also has a bookstore, multi-media programs, archives and a classroom.
Located along the border between Wisconsin and Minnesota, this protected 92,738-acre park stretches for 255 miles and protects both the St. Croix River and the Namekagon River, as well as their tributaries.
The riverway is a prime destination for water enthusiasts who enjoy paddling in kayaks and canoes as well as enjoying the scenery, fishing and camping along its shores. It also offers an array of outdoor activities for non-paddling visitors, such as swimming and tubing.
Another popular activity is birdwatching, as the Riverway is home to over 240 species of birds. You can walk on the trails and watch for bald eagles, red-shouldered hawks, golden-winged warblers and trumpeter swans.
The National Park Service maintains seven trails ranging in distance and difficulty. In addition, the nearby state parks and forests also offer great trail systems.
Pipestone National Monument is a great place to get away from the stress of everyday life and enjoy some fresh air. There are a lot of fun activities to do, including playing baseball or sand volleyball and taking in the scenery on a hiking trail.
The monument's 282 acres of restored prairie also include a waterfall and quarries. To preserve the natural setting, monument staff burn prairie parcels on a rotating basis to control weed growth and stimulate the growth of native grasses.
A three-quarter mile (1.2 km) self-guided walking trail leads to the monument's quarries and a waterfall. The trail also passes by the visitor center, where there are displays about the monument's history and petroglyphs.
During the summer months, cultural demonstrations of pipemaking by Native craftworkers using stone from the monument's quarries are held at the Upper Midwest Indian Cultural Center inside the visitor center. The demonstrators are usually third or fourth generation pipe makers who have learned the techniques from their ancestors.