Minnesota DNR Offers Free Entrance Days to All Minnesota State Parks

Visit Winona Free entrance days to all Minnesota state parks

Minnesota state parks offer free admission on specific days each year, including Friday, November 24, 2023, and several dates in 2024. The initiative aims to encourage families to spend time outdoors, with state parks open year-round. The fee waiver doesn’t cover camping or activity fees. Staying overnight on a free park day doesn’t require a state park vehicle permit until check-out time. The goal is to promote well-being through outdoor activities like walking. Parks host various programs, and Minnesota’s state trails are free every day. Visitors are encouraged to plan ahead, be flexible, and explore new destinations while recreating responsibly by following guidelines and conserving natural spaces.

Here are Some Minnesota State Parks in the Winona Area

Great River Bluffs State Park

This is beautiful bluff country! The park contains two Scientific and Natural Areas (SNAs), King’s and Queen’s Bluff. The King’s Bluff trail offers a breathtaking view of the Mississippi River Valley. Bring your binoculars; the river valley is a major flyway for waterfowl, eagles, and hawks.

Explore the diversity in this park: oak-hickory and maple-basswood forests, pine plantations, fields, and goat prairies offer visitors excellent hiking and a diversity of wildlife. Look for ruffed grouse, wild turkeys, coyotes, and many species of songbirds.

John A. Latsch State Park

John Latsch State Park offers visitors a rich diversity of natural communities: bluffs, prairie, floodplain forests, and oak forests in its 450 acres. Enjoy views of the Mississippi River, watch bald eagles soar above the Mississippi River.
Many different species of birds pass through John Latsch State Park on their migration route. Coyotes, fox, opossum, timber rattlesnakes and white-tailed deer are present in the park.

Steamboat captains on the Mississippi River relied on three rocky-headed bluffs called Faith, Hope and Charity to navigate their way up and down the Mississippi River. These bluffs tower more than 500 feet above the river. In the 1850s, a busy steamboat landing and logging town was established below these bluffs. The logging operations supplied cut timber for the sawmills in the new town of Winona. For many years, the area was only visited by a few ambitious hikers who hiked the steep hills for a bird’s-eye view of the valley. A local businessman, John A. Latsch, purchased some of these blufflands and persuaded an adjacent landowner to donate, along with him, approximately 350 acres to the state for a park in 1925. Latsch loved to fish in the waters below the bluffs of Faith, Hope and Charity. A half-mile of trail leads to the top of Charity Bluff.

Whitewater State Park

The 2,700 acre park is an angler’s paradise with brown, brook, and rainbow trout swimming in the spring-fed Whitewater River and Trout Run Creek. Visitors enjoy a sandy swimming beach, a year-round visitor center, easy-to-challenging hiking trails, camping, a group camp, and a modern group center.

Come in the winter to enjoy cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, and stay at the group center in rustic, winterized cabins. All through the year, discover the natural and human history of the area at one of the many interpretive programs, visitor center exhibits or self-guided trails.

Original post at Minnesota DNR