Go to the U of M home page.

Explore Minnesota

Scenic Escapes


Stately oaks and delicate prairie flowers grace the rugged, rolling landscape of this 1,685-acre park. Hikers, horseback riders and cross-country skiers can enjoy a variety of trails that meander through prairies and wetland forests or climb up beautiful ridgetops and bluffs overlooking the St. Croix River. This park also offers a swimming pool, backpack campsites and a visitor center. Open year-round.


Fort Snelling:

Located in the heart of the Twin Cities, this 2,931-acre park offers extensive hiking, bike and ski trails that link to Minnehaha Park and the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Visitors can canoe on Gun Club Lake, play golf, swim in Snelling Lake, or hike on Pike Island where the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers meet. The exhibits and films in the Thomas C. Savage Visitor Center give visitors a good background on the history and resources of the park and area. Visitors can also hike the trails up to the historic Fort Snelling for a view of military life in the 1820s. Closes at dusk.


Minnesota Valley State Park:

This park is located just south of the Twin Cities in Bloomington. The 35-mile-long Minnesota Valley Trail system links Fort Snelling State Park and units of the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge to waysides and other public lands. The area is ideal for hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, mountain biking, and snowmobiling. The landscapes, some 5,490 acres, include wetlands, floodplain forests, and a blufftop oak savanna. Wildlife observation and birdwatching are popular activities year-round.


For more things to see and do, click here and discover more about Minnesota!


Fast Facts:

  • Minnestota's name comes from the Dakota (Sioux) word for the Minnesota River's "sky-tinted waters."
  • The state's nickname, the "Land of 10,000 Lakes," is a misnomer; Minnesota actually has closer to 15,000 lakes.
  • The Minnesota Territory was formed in 1849 from what had been part of the Northwest Territory, and Minnesota became a state in 1858.
  • Minnesota has 66 state parks, 57 state forests and 5,000 campsites, distributed geographically across more than 3.5 million acres of land.
  • The great Mississippi River begins as a small creek in northern Minnesota, near Lake Itasca.
  • State Flower: Lady Slipper
  • State Motto: Star of the North
  • State Bird: Common Loon (also called great northern diver)
  • State Capital: St. Paul