Minnesota State Parks

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xl_target
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Minnesota State Parks

Post by xl_target » Sat Mar 31, 2012 9:34 am

Lately I have had to use up a bunch of vacation so I have every Friday off till the end of May. My wife and I decided to visit some of our great State Parks on Fridays. I thought I would share some of these unique places that have been set aside for recreation. With the purchase of a State Park Sticker, one can visit all of the seventy five State Parks in Minnesota. If you don't have a vehicle, you can walk into any of them and visit for free. Most of the State Parks have campsites and Cabins that you can rent for a nominal fee.

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.

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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.
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They built the trails, buildings, stairs, bridges, etc that make these places so pleasant to be at.

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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.

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Minneopa State Park

The location of our most recent visit is circled on the map.
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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.
http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/ ... index.html

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The image below explains the formation of the falls and how it has moved over time:
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Here you can see both falls:
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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.
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This early in the year, everything is still brown from the winter.
Still, the wild flowers are blooming.
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The trees are budding out
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There is a profusion of Oak trees in this area as seen by the number of acorns on the ground
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The scale of the falls can be seen by the size of the people by the lower falls.
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Here are the upper falls with the picnic pavilion in the background.
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With the water level being so low; downstream of the falls the creek was barely moving and the surface was very still.
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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.
“Never give in, never give in, never; never; never; never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense” — Winston Churchill, Oct 29, 1941

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Re: Minnesota State Parks

Post by prashantsingh » Sun Apr 01, 2012 1:30 pm

Beautiful snaps. What a lovely place. Apart from the birds did you see any wildlife?

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Re: Minnesota State Parks

Post by xl_target » Sun Apr 01, 2012 1:38 pm

Unfortunately, No. I didn't see any wildlife apart from birds and fish.
Maybe if we had hiked out a little further, we might have seen some.
You know they are there. There were deer trails all over.
“Never give in, never give in, never; never; never; never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense” — Winston Churchill, Oct 29, 1941

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Re: Minnesota State Parks

Post by joydeepm » Sun Apr 01, 2012 2:01 pm

Xl

Beautiful pictures . I wished I lived in a country like that . God only knows when our babus shall wake up and build such facilities . In India - all such spots were built by the British and are still standing .

As far as wildlife is concerned - what kind are available ? herbivores are fine - I hope we are not talking bears here . Shall be very wary of meeting one without a 0.45 nestled comfortingly under my left armpit .

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Re: Minnesota State Parks

Post by Baljit » Sun Apr 01, 2012 11:19 pm

Thank's XL, yes indeed very nice picture , it's to bad you did not see any wildlife, may be next time .


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Re: Minnesota State Parks

Post by xl_target » Mon Apr 02, 2012 5:47 am

Joydeep,
The citizens of this state are indeed lucky. There is no place in this state where one is further than 30 miles from a State Park like this. There are also State Trails. In additions, each of the 87 counties maintains many smaller County Parks
Public recreational lands include a first-rank State Parks system, a wide variety of hiking and biking trails, two national forests, one national park, and much more. In the winter, there are more than 20,000 miles of designated snowmobile trails, ice fishing, and skiing on well-groomed cross-country trails or at exciting downhill venues.
Minnesota has one of the nation’s great, diverse state parks systems, over 227,000 acres in 73 parks and recreation areas, with 1,030 miles of hiking trails. Voyageurs National Park is uniquely accessible only by boat. Minnesota is also home to Chippewa and Superior national forests, the latter home to the renowned Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Beyond that there are innumerable public campgrounds and parks at the regional, county and city level.
Explore Minnesota website

The typical wildlife present in Minnesota can be learned about here:
http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/animals/index.html

The predominant big game animal here is the White-tailed Deer. Males can weigh up to 300 pounds. The Deer in this part of Minnesota are large due to the (relatively) milder climate and the preponderance of Agriculture in this region. Plenty of food and plenty of cover and a longer summer so they grow pretty big here. Being corn fed, they taste very much like beef compared to Deer in coniferous regions of Minnesota where they tend to taste more piney. We don't commonly see Bear, Moose, Elk, etc down here.
Other mammals commonly seen in this area are Fox, Coyote, Bobcats, Squirrels, Gophers, Muskrats, Porcupines, Racoons, Opossums, Rabbits and Skunks among others. Coyotes are gradually moving up from the south and are edging Foxes, etc out of their range. Coyotes are considered vermin and can be shot on sight with no season or bag limits.
“Never give in, never give in, never; never; never; never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense” — Winston Churchill, Oct 29, 1941

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Re: Minnesota State Parks

Post by xl_target » Sat Apr 28, 2012 12:38 pm

A visit to Ft. Ridgely State Park

It was an overcast, blustery and windy day but we decided to visit a State Park anyway
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Location:
Ft. Ridgely is located in South Central MN on the bluffs of the Minnesota River Valley. It doesn’t seem to be a very defensible spot. The fort itself wasn’t a true fort (as we think of it) as it had no earthworks or palisade protecting it.
There are 1040 acres set aside for recreation here with over 60 campsites and miles of trails set aside for hikers and for horseback riding.
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http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/ ... index.html

History
In the spring of 1853, the steamboat West Newton left Fort Snelling to journey up the Minnesota River, bound for a plateau above the river in Nicollet County. The steamboat carried soldiers and their families, carpenters, and supplies. The people were assigned to build a fort at the edge of the Dakota reservation. The fort was named "Ridgely" in honor of three men of the same name who had died during the Mexican War. Fort Ridgely was complete by 1855. Before long, Fort Ridgely developed into a self-sufficient community populated by 300 soldiers and civilians. The Fort played a role in the U.S.-Dakota Conflict of 1862 when it was attacked twice by Dakota Indians. After Fort Ridgely closed in 1872, local farmers used the buildings. The first purchase of land for the park occurred in 1896 as a war memorial to those who fought in the U.S.-Dakota Conflict. More acres were purchased in 1911 when the site was designated a state park
http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/ ... ative.html

Fort Ridgely in 1862
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The US Civil War was in full swing but the US Army still had to garrison fort all over the country to maintain peace between settlers and Indian tribes.

The US-Dakota conflict of 1862
1862 was a bad year for crops and many Indians were starving. The treaty terms said that the Government would provide them with food. However, that year Government payments were late and the Indian agent would not release food stored for the Indians. At a meeting to ameliorate some of these tensions, one trader named Andrew Myrick, told the assembled Indians that “they could eat grass”. Shortly after the Indians started raiding the surrounding areas and attacking towns and settlers. The war lasted five weeks and the Indians were eventually defeated and all of them were exiled to reservations in South Dakota. Andrew Myrick was one of the first to be killed and his body was found with its mouth stuffed with grass.
However, the causes and results of the war are beyond the scope of this post.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dakota_War_of_1862

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Fort Ridgely today.
The commissary was rebuilt but only the foundations of some of the buildings stand today.
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Officers Quarters A
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Officers Quarters B
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Officers Quarters C
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The Surgeons Quarters
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The Officers Latrines. It looks like their diet hasn't changed much today :)
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The Barracks
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The Monument
The monument to the 1862 war is under restoration. The plaques with the names of the soldiers has been removed for the present.
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Ft. Ridgely Cemetary
The Ft. Ridgely cemetery is still active. Soldiers and their families from the Civil War on are buried. There are veterans buried here from almost all of America’s wars. Here is a memorial to soldiers killed during the 1862 uprising.
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A civil war veteran. The GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) was a fraternal organization of the Civil War Veterans. The American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign%20Wars are also fraternal organizations for soldiers.
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A young Marine killed in Vietnam.
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A Korean War Veteran
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The Golf course
Here, high on top of the bluffs, is the tee of the 9th hole.
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Here is the greens area of another hole.
Our trail wound by it before it entered the woods.
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Park Buildings
Here are some of the park Buildings.
You can see the typical State Park Architecture again.
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There is also an Amphitheater where concerts, weddings and other functions can be held.
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The Trails
Manicured trails weave through the woods at the top of the bluffs and down into the valley.
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View of the Minnesota River Valley from the trails.
The Minnesota river was once over a mile wide. We are standing on the bluffs on one side and those hills in the distance form the other side of the valley.
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Today it is comparitively insignificant in size and only rears it head once a year after the annual snow melt.
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“Never give in, never give in, never; never; never; never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense” — Winston Churchill, Oct 29, 1941

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Re: Minnesota State Parks

Post by mundaire » Sat Apr 28, 2012 3:37 pm

Some really lovely photos! You are lucky to live in such a beautiful place XL :)

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Re: Minnesota State Parks

Post by Vikram » Sat Apr 28, 2012 4:10 pm

Beautiful locales and educative information too,XL.I somehow missed it earlier.Thank you for taking time to share with us.

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Re: Minnesota State Parks

Post by xl_target » Sun Apr 29, 2012 11:35 am

Thanks Abhijit and Vikram,
I'll probably never be a rich man but I do enjoy living out here even though the winters can get nasty sometimes.
The nice thing about going at this time of year is that there are very few people there as the kids are still in School.
At Fort Ridgely, my wife and I were the only people on the trails and at the Fort Site.
“Never give in, never give in, never; never; never; never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense” — Winston Churchill, Oct 29, 1941

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Re: Minnesota State Parks

Post by ngrewal » Sat May 26, 2012 5:45 pm

xl_target wrote:Thanks Abhijit and Vikram,
I'll probably never be a rich man but I do enjoy living out here even though the winters can get nasty sometimes.
The nice thing about going at this time of year is that there are very few people there as the kids are still in School.
At Fort Ridgely, my wife and I were the only people on the trails and at the Fort Site.

Agree MN is a great place to live lived there and miss it all the time. It has natural beauty great folks, great univ and schools, has fair share of high tech and great companies 3M, Target, Cargill, Honeywell, Seagate, Medtronics et al, medicine U of Minnesota and world famous Mayo Clinic ( Rochester), Vikings and best of all Common Sense and great work ethics and culture

best

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Re: Minnesota State Parks

Post by xl_target » Sun May 27, 2012 1:50 pm

The Jeffers Petroglyphs

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The Jeffers Petroglyphs site is not a State Park but a historic site maintained by the Minnesota Historical Society. There are many of these Historical Sites that are maintained by them throughout Minnesota. It is set in the midst of some of the few acres of what is left of the original Paririe. Paths in the grass allow you to get to the rock formation and to go for a walk in the prairie. One feels quite small and insignificant in this grassy landscape surrounded by the incessant call of the Bobolink and other birds. The heady smell of clean, fresh, air and earth and the constant buzz of insects and birds can be quite conducive to meditation or a nap.

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What the first settlers must have seen; an almost endless sea of grass stretching to the horizons.

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My wife walking through the prairie.

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A Bobolink
image from here



Last Friday, we visited the Jeffers Petroglyphs located near Jeffers, MN. Jeffers Petroglyphs is a special place both for visitors and American Indians. Viewed from above, a pink rock face floats above a sea of green. Fifty yards wide and about 300 yards long, this rock face emerges from the prairie. Called Red Rock Ridge, it is a series of quartzite outcroppings. The Rock located at Jeffers is called "Sioux Quartzite". The quartzite at Jeffers is one of the oldest bedrock formations in Minnesota. To American Indians, such rock formations emerging from the earth provide a link between the physical and spiritual worlds. Such places are chosen to record visions, events, stories or maps.

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The red color of the rock.

Based on nearby archaeological evidence, scholars believe that ancestors of American indians first made rock carvings, or petroglyphs, on this outcropping about 7000 years ago. To modern day descendants of those who left these carvings, this is a sacred place: a place of worship no different than a church or a temple. The gates are never shut at the site, allowing American Indian worshipers to come and go as they please.

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An offering left by an American Indian worshiper. The bark dish contains blueberries, wild rice, etc

Many of the carvings are faint, worn by time and the elements. To view them properly, the sun must be at an angle to the rock face. Typically this is at sunset or sunrise. At midday when we were there, the carvings seem to recede but at the beginning and the end of the day, they seem to raise up the images from the rock. This was demonstrated to us inside the interpretative center.

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The above two images were taken inside the center. They are displayed so the light hits them at an angle.

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A Great Horned Owl (stuffed)

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An Indian Tepee with Buffalo skin floor.



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Throwing an Atlatl

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An Atlatl, Note the finger loops. A carving or the Atlatl rests on the section of rock below it.

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A carving of an Atlatl

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The Buffalo target at the Atlatl practice range. Poor guy, he's pretty holey :)

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Eons of buffalo using this rock as a scratching post have left its surface as smooth as glass to the touch.

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One type of Thunderbird

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A more complex form of Thunderbird

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A sacred Turtle

The Prairie is not all grass, it abounds with plant, animal and insect life. There is a profusion of wildflowers if you look carefully. Some are tiny reflections of nature's perfection. These were taken as we walked through the Prairie.

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The prickly pear cactus

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Wild Pea flowers

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Spider Wort

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Golden Alexander

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Daisy Fleabane

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Yarrow

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Prairie Smoke

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Wild Sedge. Used in Indian religious ceremonies, etc.

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No idea what this tiny bit of natural perfection is called

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I think we interrupted this little fellow in the midst of his dinner.

After several hours at the site, we stopped for our own dinner at a lakeside park in a nearby city and then as it started to rain, we drove back home.

More info on the site can be had at their website: http://www.jefferspetroglyphs.com/
“Never give in, never give in, never; never; never; never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense” — Winston Churchill, Oct 29, 1941

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Re: Minnesota State Parks

Post by dev » Wed May 30, 2012 3:06 pm

Hi XL T,

Thanks for taking us along on the trip. I enjoyed the Jeffers Petroglyphs part a lot. Minnesota had a brand of advertising that we tried to emulate for years. Specially the work of Fallon Mc Elligott, really a must do place on the bucket list.

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Re: Minnesota State Parks

Post by TC » Wed May 30, 2012 5:09 pm

......WONDERFUL.....


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Re: Minnesota State Parks

Post by xl_target » Thu May 31, 2012 2:01 am

Dev and TC,
Glad you enjoyed it.

Not being in the advertising world, I had to Google Fallon McElligott, since I'd never heard of them. :)
Apparently they are quite well known.
“Never give in, never give in, never; never; never; never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense” — Winston Churchill, Oct 29, 1941

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