Minnesota State Parks Welcome Visitors This Sunday, June 1 to the ‘Great Minnesota Picnic’ on Free Open House Day

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Picnics in the park are a great summer tradition. On Sunday, June 1, it’s open house day at Minnesota state parks and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) invites everyone to pack a picnic basket and head to any state park and recreation area for free to enjoy the “Great Minnesota Picnic.”

“Each year the public is invited to visit state parks for free on the first Sunday in June,” said Courtland Nelson, director of DNR Division of Parks and Recreation. “This year, to commemorate Minnesota’s Sesquicentennial, we are highlighting an activity that historically has been a park favorite over the years – the family picnic. We invite everyone to bring a picnic lunch and come to any state park or recreation area to enjoy a day of old-fashioned fun.”

Many parks will offer refreshments and special programs that day, added Nelson. Although no vehicle permit is needed for admission on open house day, fees will be charged for tours of Mystery Cave at Forestville, Soudan Underground Mine and Hill Annex Mine. The usual camping, lodging and rental fees also will apply.

A complete list of state park locations plus more detailed information on programs and activities for Open House Day, June 1, are posted on the DNR Web site.


Fort Snelling State Park, St Paul: Commemorate Minnesota’s 150th Anniversary with a picnic in the park. Enjoy the sounds of the Zumbrota Community Band and visit with “Seth Eastman” as he talks about the landscape of Minnesota 150 years ago. Winners of the Fort Snelling photo contest will be announced. At 1 p.m. join the naturalist at the park’s fishing pier for some tips and chance to hook a few fish on the catch and release program. Fishing poles will be provided.

Lake Maria State Park, Monticello: Visit the park from10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for an old time ice cream social, wildlife art display, history hike and kids activities. Help celebrate the park’s 45th anniversary.

Wild River State Park, Center City: The park’s visitor center, boat launches, picnic grounds, 35 miles of hiking trail, 20 miles of horse trail, and 3 miles of bike trail will be open for use with no vehicle permit required. Horse trail use still requires a Minnesota Horse Trail pass (daily $5 or annual $21). At 2 p.m. join park naturalist Dave Crawford at the park’s visitor center for a “Walk Into the Past,” a walking tour of the present-day landscape where a farm was established 130 years ago. Through the use of a hand-drawn map by Annie Boyce, one of the children who grew up on the farm, plus Global Positioning System (GPS) technology, it’s possible to pay an imaginary visit to the house, barns, gardens, pumpkin patches and other features of a very different landscape that existed over a century ago. Part of the walk will be in brushy or tall-grass areas, so long pants, sturdy shoes, and protection against ticks are advised.


Jay Cooke State Park, Carlton: Bring a picnic lunch and a sense of adventure and join with others from11 a.m. to 3 p.m. to commemorate Minnesota’s Sesquicentennial at “The Great Minnesota Picnic.” Special guest speakers, historic displays, family scavenger hunts and music will be held throughout the day. Events will be staged both indoors and outdoors. Visitors should wear comfortable shoes if they plan hike on their own around the river or to the Swinging Bridge.

McCarthy Beach State Park, Side Lake: Visitors are invited to the park’s picnic shelter at 2 p.m. for a program by Virginia Pointer on the adaptations of critters (and humans) to the northern Minnesota world we live in.

Scenic State Park, Bigfork: Enjoy a day of picnicking and programs from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. to celebrate Minnesota’s Sesquicentennial. The Bigfork Lions Club will be serving free lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Historic Lodge. After lunch, brush up on the history of the Civilian Conservation Corp and their role in the establishment of this park. Then enjoy a walking tour to view some of the historic park structures and stories they have to tell. The day’s events will wrap up with a “Loon” program that will be great for families and the young at heart. Meet at the Historic CCC built Lodge for all activities.

Split Rock Lighthouse State Park, Two Harbors: From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. visitors are invited to tour the historic lighthouse, view exhibits and watch a film. Refreshments will be available at the trail center in the park from 1 to 3 p.m. The lighthouse beacon will be lit at sunset. Admission to the park and historic site is free today. This is a cooperative program with the Minnesota Historical Society.


Camden State Park, Lynd: Commemorate Minnesota’s 150th Anniversary with a picnic in the park by a sandy beach or fishing for trout in the Redwood River, a dedicated trout stream. Author and avid fly-fisherman Jay Brown will help others master the art and skill of fly-tying during 45-minute mini-clinics held at the north picnic/beach area on the hour from 1-4 p.m. To reserve a spot, call the park in advance at (507) 865-4530. Visitors can come to the north picnic area where the Friend’s of Camden will be selling root beer floats.

Then join in some friendly “pioneer” competition at 2 p.m. at the beach for sack races or the north picnic area for horseshoes. Sign up as an individual or put a team together. Since this is a commemoration of an historic event, the state’s sesquicentennial, visitors are asked to bring any old photos, postcards, and memories of Camden to the north picnic shelter throughout the day where staff can scan and log these documents into the park’s photo archive.

Lac qui Parle State Park, Montevideo: Pack goodies in a basket and head out the park for a day of picnicking, fishing, hiking swimming or exploring. From 2 to 4 p.m., local photographer Billy Thompson will display a pictorial history of the park and the surrounding Minnesota River valley at the park office/learning center.

Minneopa State Park, Mankato: Historic Seppman Mill is an area landmark. At 1 p.m., at the mill site, visitors can learn about the construction and operation of this 1860s era wind-powered grain mill and view a display of old mill pictures.

Sibley State Park, New London: The park is hosting two special programs. A Woodland Wildflower Walk from 11 a.m. to noon will give visitors an up close and personal look at the variety of wildflowers in bloom at the park. Meet at the interpretive center for a short walk that will follow a PowerPoint presentation on the wildflowers in Minnesota state parks. From 2 to 3 p.m. a program will be held at the visitor center that focuses on the once rare and beautiful eastern bluebird, the bluebird’s story and what people can do to help it survive and thrive. There will be a free drawing for a bluebird poster.


Charles Lindbergh State Park and MHA Historic Site, Little Falls: Annually, the first Sunday in June every year, the museums and attractions in Little Falls hold an appreciation day for the community and surrounding areas by offering free admission and special programming to visitors. Charles A. Lindbergh State Park and Lindbergh House and Visitor Center will be offering free admission and an open house. Enjoy the boyhood home of world famous aviator, inventor and conservationist, Charles A. Lindbergh and the sites and trails of Charles A. Lindbergh State Park. Event runs noon to 5 p.m.

Crow Wing State Park, Brainerd: Whether visitors arrive by river or road, they are invited to tour the Fur Trade Encampment from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and watch as the Crow Wing County Muzzleloader specialists demonstrate how crafts of the pioneer era were made. Meet at group camp.

Hayes Lake State Park, Roseau: From noon to 3 p.m., see how early Minnesotans traveled from St. Paul to the Northwest region of Minnesota via the Red River Ox Cart Trail. Interpretive programs and refreshments will be provided.

Itasca State Park, Park Rapids: Visitors are invited to celebrate in Itasca State Park’s largest picnic and music event of the season from 12:30 to 6:30 p.m. Come out for an afternoon of music, food and old-fashioned picnic games. Enjoy traditional Mississippi River songs by local opera singer Linda Wagner, watch local powwow dancers, cheer along with the patriotic tunes performed by the 50-member Park Rapids Community Band, then get ready for the talent of Dancing Light and Patchouli as these two musical groups wrap up the afternoon.

Throughout the day, children of all ages can participate in old-fashioned gunnysack and three-legged races, bubble gum blowing contests and other activities. Visitors can also try to win at the loon calling, two-man saw or buffalo chip chucking competitions. Bring a lunch and a picnic blanket or lawn chair to sit on, and enjoy the music and games. Free food samples including the state muffin (blueberry), the state drink (milk) and ice cream will be available while supplies last. Grilled hot dogs, chips and pop can be purchased on site. Events will be held on the south lawn by Douglas Lodge.

Mille Lacs Kathio, Onamia: During this “Outdoor Recreation Day” visitors are invited to take a look at and try out recreation gear including inflatable kayaks, canoes, tents and camping gear from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Skill sessions include cooking, fire making and kid’s activities. A professional angler will offer fishing tips. Bird watching begins at 9 a.m. Outdoor photography at 11 a.m. Activities take place at the park’s picnic area.

Red River State Recreation Area, East Grand Forks: Explore camping through the ages from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Red River’s Historic Tent and Camping Gear Rendezvous. See historic tents and gear, talk with voyageur re-enactors, enjoy live music and swap stories with outdoor enthusiasts.