Minnesota state parks and trails to celebrate 125th anniversary in 2016

State officials today invited Minnesotans to take part in a 125-mile challenge, a state park “Total Takeover,” picnics, summer “samplers” and other special events throughout the coming year as part of the 125th anniversary of Minnesota state parks and trails.

On hand at Fort Snelling State Park to kick off the year-long celebration were Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr, DNR Parks and Trails Division Director Erika Rivers and 30 fourth-grade students from Northrop Urban Environmental Learning Center, representing the next generation of park and trail visitors.

“Minnesota is blessed with a remarkable system of state parks and trails, which have allowed generations of Minnesotans to enjoy our state’s many natural wonders over the past 125 years,” said Smith. “As we celebrate this anniversary, I encourage all Minnesotans to get out and enjoy their state parks and trails this year.”

In the 125 years since Itasca State Park was established in 1891, the system has grown to include 75 state parks and recreation areas, 49 state forest campgrounds, 34 state water trails, more than 360 fishing piers, more than 1,500 public water accesses, more than 600 miles of paved state trails, and many additional miles of off-highway vehicle, snowmobile, equestrian and cross-country ski trails.

“There’s a state park, trail or water trail within 30 minutes of just about every Minnesotan,” Landwehr said. “We hope the anniversary events that we have planned in 2016 will encourage new people to discover these special places.”

The anniversary celebration will include:

  • A State Park “Total Takeover”—An effort to fill up all of the campsites at Minnesota state parks and recreation areas by encouraging experienced campers to invite a family of beginners to go camping with them on Saturday, June 11, which is National Get Outdoors Day.
  • 125 Miles by Bike, Boot or Boat—A challenge to visitors of all ages to track the miles they bike, hike and paddle at Minnesota state parks and trails throughout 2016, with a goal of reaching a total of 125 for bragging rights, an exclusive “Finisher” sticker and an opportunity to have their photo included in a Finishers Gallery on the website.
  • Summer Samplers—For anyone wondering what there is to do at Minnesota state parks and recreation areas, these events will provide opportunities to try paddling, archery, nature photography, fishing and other activities all in one fun-packed day.
  • Picnic in the Park—An invitation to return to the days before soccer, hockey and dance took over on the weekends, and to carve out time for a family picnic, followed by games and activities for all ages.
  • A contest—to design an official Minnesota state parks and trails license plate.
  • A commemorative quilt—which will pay tribute to Minnesota’s natural and cultural resources.
  • Merchandise—Limited edition 125th anniversary mugs, apparel, pins and other items will be available for purchase at Minnesota state parks and recreation areas.

Details about the 125th anniversary celebration can be found on the 125 Web page. Check back for updates throughout the year.

“In addition to planning special events, we are also updating our signs, maps and publications so that they meet the Governor’s ‘plain language’ goals and appeal to a new and more diverse generation of park visitors,” Rivers said.

For example, she unveiled a shorter and more customer friendly rules sign that will appear in all Minnesota state parks and recreation areas this spring. She also showed prototypes of state park maps and other publications that have been redesigned to be more useful to today’s visitors.

Visit our 125th Anniversary page for more information about the celebration. Check back for updates throughout the year or contact the DNR Information Center at info.dnr@state.mn.us or 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.