Minnesota’s Oldest State Park Turns 125
After visiting the headwaters of the Mississippi River, taking a walk through the pines along Maadaadizi Trail and meeting “Lars the Logger,” more than 200 fourth graders from Bagley and Park Rapids elementary schools capped off their April 20 field trip to Itasca State Park with some birthday cake. They were joined by Erika Rivers, director of Minnesota state parks and trails, who noted that Itasca State Park, which today gets an estimated 549,000 annual visitors, was nearly lost to logging in its early years.
“Throughout Minnesota’s history, people have had to fight to protect special places like this,” Rivers said. “Now it’s our job to protect them for future generations.”
In the 125 years since Itasca State Park was established on April 20, 1891, Minnesota’s state park and trail system has grown to include 75 state parks and recreation areas, 49 state forest campgrounds, 34 state water trails, more than 360 fishing piers, more than 1,500 public water accesses, more than 600 miles of paved state trails, and many additional miles of off-highway vehicle, snowmobile, equestrian and cross-country ski trails.
“Minnesota is blessed to have a remarkable system of parks and trails that make it easy to get out and enjoy our incredibly beautiful state,” said Lt. Gov. Tina Smith. “I encourage all Minnesotans to visit their state parks this summer and enjoy one of the many family-friendly special events planned to commemorate this 125th anniversary.”
- Sat., June 11: A State Park “Total Takeover” — An effort to fill up all of the campsites at Minnesota state parks and recreation areas by encouraging experienced campers to invite a family of beginners to go camping with them on Saturday, June 11, which is National Get Outdoors Day. About one-third of the campsites are currently booked.
- Summer Samplers — For anyone wondering what there is to do at Minnesota state parks and recreation areas, these events will provide opportunities to try paddling, archery, nature photography, fishing and other activities all in one fun-packed day.
- Sat., June 11: Outdoor Explorations, Lake Carlos State Park, noon to 3 p.m.
- Sat., June 11: Family Outdoor Fair, Whitewater State Park, noon to 3 p.m.
- Sat., June 25: Painting a Prairie, Sibley State Park, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
- Sat., July 23: Water World, Sibley State Park, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
- Sat., Aug. 6: Beach Party, St. Croix State Park, noon to 4 p.m.
- Sat., Aug. 27: River Day, Flandrau State Park, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
- Picnic Gatherings— An invitation to return to the days before soccer, hockey and dance took over on the weekends, and to carve out time for a family picnic, followed by games and activities for all ages.
- Sat., June 11: Fort Snelling State Park, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
- Sun., July 17: Maplewood State Park, 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
- Sun., July 31: Itasca State Park, 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
- Sun., Aug. 14: Glendalough State Park, noon to 3 p.m.
- Sat., Aug. 27: Jay Cooke State Park, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Details about these and other special events can be found online at www.mndnr.gov/125. Check back for updates throughout the year.