Visiting state parks is worth the planning to see fall colors

When the seasons change, many people visit the Minnesota’s state parks to enjoy beautiful fall colors. With some planning, a […]

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Forestville/Mystery Cave State ParkWhen the seasons change, many people visit the Minnesota’s state parks to enjoy beautiful fall colors. With some planning, a visit to a state park can provide a day or weekend trip. Or why not plan a week vacation?

Minnesota has more than 227,000 acres in 76 state 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 is home to the renowned Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Minnesota’s state parks and trails offer many accessible places to visit and enjoy. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recently launched “ParkFinder,” a new online trip planning tool.  The online tool can help people find which of Minnesota’s state parks and recreation areas best match their needs and interests.

Search options include where to find amenities such as beaches, playgrounds, fishing piers and picnic shelters, including which ones are accessible to wheelchairs and other mobility-assist devices. There is also information on nature programs, visitors’ centers and museums.

ParkFinder can also indicate where overnight camping and lodging facilities are accessible, including cabins, RV sites and drive-in, cart-in and canoe-in campsites. It also provides useful information on hiking, biking, horse, ski and snowmobile trails, as well as places with rental equipment.

The DNR also has an accessible outdoors page with a number of useful links. One example is its connections to organizations that provide recreation for people with disabilities, including fishing, hunting, archery and exploration of nature. Visit here.

Keep some discounts for state parks in mind. If a visitor’s motor vehicle has Minnesota disability license plates, mirror hang tag, or a Federal Access Pass, park visitors can get a reduced-rate special annual vehicle permit with proof of disability and proof of vehicle ownership. Those who qualify for the reduced rate special annual permit but doesn’t have a vehicle may purchase a special permit “wallet card” for the same price as the special permit sticker. Carry the card when visiting state parks.

Anyone with multiple vehicles may purchase additional special permits at the same rate for other vehicles. The permits can be obtained from the DNR main office in St. Paul or from a staffed office in a Minnesota state park.

Contact the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or for an application for the special permit wallet card. Send the completed application back to St. Paul, and the permit will arrive in the mail.

Take a tour of state parks without leaving home with a virtual tour, by visiting here.

Information for this article is from the Courage Kenny Accessible Technology Program and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.


Gooseberry Falls State Park


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