Each park has some unique natural landscape feature that it is built around. Some have falls, some have rapid laden stretches of river, some have unique rock formations, etc. I really love these places and I hope you will share and enjoy our visits as we travel through some of these scenic areas.
A State park Sticker, valid for one year, costs $35 and allows you access to all MN State parks while it is valid.
History and info
Many of these State Parks were improved in the 1930 during the Great Depression by the (WPA) Work Projects Administration and the CCC.
They built the trails, buildings, stairs, bridges, etc that make these places so pleasant to be at.
The architecture at these places is quite similar. There are Picnic Pavilions, bathrooms and Park Administration buildings that have a certain commonality of features. There was extensive use of cut stone and cement in the construction of these buildings. Many of the newer buildings, built out of today's construction materials, try to emulate that look.
Here is a map showing Minnesota's State Parks in the three different landscape regions of Minnesota.
Minneopa State Park
The location of our most recent visit is circled on the map.
I really like the solitude and scenery at Minneopa and have been there several times. It is located in a hilly, well forested area and the Minnesota River borders it, cutting its way through the limestone that predominates in this area. The Minneopa Creek flows through the park.
The word Minneopa comes from the Dakota language and is interpreted to mean "water falling twice," referring to the beautiful waterfalls of the Minneopa Creek. Walk the trail which encircles the falls, leading down a limestone stairway to the valley below. Ascend the opposite side and enjoy a panoramic view of the valley which reveals the underlying geology of this area.
The image below explains the formation of the falls and how it has moved over time:
Here you can see both falls:
This year the water is very low as we had a very mild winter with a minimal amount of snow.
Normally the water level is much higher and covers the flat area where the person is standing.
A piece of Limestone eroded by the falls.
This early in the year, everything is still brown from the winter.
Still, the wild flowers are blooming.
The trees are budding out
There is a profusion of Oak trees in this area as seen by the number of acorns on the ground
The scale of the falls can be seen by the size of the people by the lower falls.
Here are the upper falls with the picnic pavilion in the background.
With the water level being so low; downstream of the falls the creek was barely moving and the surface was very still.
There weren't any people as we hiked down past the falls and found a little beach where we could pretend that we were the only people here for a few hours. We watched fish jumping and eating insects floating on and above the surface. Birds of many different kinds were chirping and there were no traffic noises. Just utter peace with the noise of the falls in the background.