Minnesota state parks free this weekend, but expect rain

8 June 2022

State parks in Minnesota will be free on Saturday for those looking for a little adventure and not afraid of rain.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is offering free admission into all the state’s 75 parks and recreation areas as part of its “Free Park Day.” The goal of the day is to get Minnesotans outdoors and it coincides with National Get Outdoors Day, always the second Saturday of June.

Visitors can go to parks featuring some of the state’s most scenic waterfalls in northern Minnesota, such as Tettegouche and Gooseberry Falls state parks. Or see vast open grasslands and geological wonders at Blue Mounds State Park in southwest Minnesota and perhaps catch a glimpse of a bison herd.

Afton and William O’Brien state parks offer views of the St. Croix River just a short drive from the Twin Cities. Near Mankato, visitors can go to southern Minnesota’s largest waterfall in Minneopa State Park and or the tranquil hidden falls at Nerstrand Big Woods.

Explorers should expect some rain on Saturday. The state parks with the least expected amount of precipitation are Blue Mounds in the southwest and those around the far northeastern part of the state, such as Grand Portage State Park, said Mike Griesinger, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Chanhassen.

“It doesn’t look like it would be a heavy downpour that would completely ruin your day as long as you don’t mind getting damp and a little mud on your shoes,” Griesinger said, adding there will be pockets of thunderstorms. “You should still be able to get out and enjoy the outdoors before the heat and humidity start building next week.”

Free park days are offered four times a year — once per season. The entry waiver does not cover camping, rentals or tours. The next and last free day of 2022 is Friday, Nov. 25.

“Minnesota state parks and recreation areas are open year-round to provide places for people to recharge from life’s everyday demands and be surrounded by the beauty of nature,” said Ann Pierce, director of the DNR Parks and Trails Division, in a news release. “We hope that visitors who go to a state park or recreation area for the first time on Free Park Day will have fun and want to come back.”

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