Minnesota State Park Virtual Tours

The MN DNR just released a great new website with virtual tours of many state parks.

You can choose one and it will show you a panoramic view of beautiful spots in that state park. It’s excellent. It’s a great way to get a preview of what that state park is like and to help determine where in each park you should visit.

For example, you can see a 360 degree view from the new bridge and J. Cooke State park.

Or the view from the tower on Mt. Tom at Sibley State Park

Or the headwaters of the Mississippi river at Itasca State Park.


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Most Popular State Parks

Here’s the Pioneer Press article which reviews the ten most visited state parks in Minnesota. I’ve been to all but #10.

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Frontenac Camping

This weekend we went camping at Frontenac State Park with good friends. I’ll just repeat – It’s really a very nice place to camp and hike and explore. Here are some photos.






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Judge C. R. Magney State Park

Name: Judge C.R. Magney ParkDSC02786

Year it became a State Park: 1957

Section of Minnesota: Upper North Shore.

Nearby Town: Grand Marais, Grand Portage

Positives: It’s a North Shore Park. And it DSC00204has an impressive waterfall.

The Negatives: There’s no plumbing or showers at the campground, but I assume for many of you that’s not a big deal.
And there’s not much of the park actually on Lake Superior.

General Comments: Again, the centerpiece of this park is the river, in this case the Brule River. And the centerpiece of DSC00193interest in the Brule River is the Devil’s Kettle. This is a bowl like area in the middle of the waterfall area where water enters but has apparent outlet. It’s apparently a bit of a scientific mystery in that they haven’t been able to determine where the water goes.

Something Everyone Wants To See: The Devil’s Kettle.

But you should also check out: The pleasant paths on the west side of the river.

Nearby attraction to visit: Nanaboujou Lodge – it has a very impressive, beautiful and historic great hall.DSC02783

Interesting Trivia: This park was originally named “Brule River State Park” but was changed to its new title “after the late Judge Magney, a lawyer, mayor of Duluth, justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, and a strong advocate of Minnesota State Parks”. It seems like he was a pretty decent guy.

Personal Stories: We’ve taken the hike DSC00198out to the falls more than once – there are nice picnic spots right along the river.
We have family that lives very close to this state park and I recall cross country skiing on the west side when I was in high school. The rolling hills made it a good challenge.

What My Kids Want Me To Say: There are a lot of stairs on the way out to the Devil’s Kettle.

Jamsco Ranking: Very Nice.

Final Word: Any regular state park visitor should be able to say that they’ve seen the Devil’s Kettle. And if you want to see impressive waterfalls, but you don’t want the crowds of the more southerly Superior state parks, give this park a try.

Thoughts? Comments? Have you been to this park? Do you agree with my assessment?

Posted in East Coast Parks, North Shore Parks, Very Nice | 1 Comment

Banning State Park

Name: Banning State Park 101_0068

Year it became a State Park: 1963

Section of Minnesota: East Central

Nearby Town: Sandstone, Hinckley

Positives: Perfect woods and river. Not too far or too close to the Twin Cities or Duluth.

Negatives: None come to mind.101_0078

General Comments: The centerpiece of this state park is the Kettle River, which is among the prettiest in the state. It has some great rock formations and low level and higher level parallel paths along the waterway.

Something Everyone Wants To See: The Whitewater Rapids

But you should also check out: Really nice forest hiking. 101_0045

Nearby attraction to visit: Tobies in Hinckley?

Interesting Trivia: There is some interesting history here, with the former Banning townsite and the remains of the quarries.

Personal Stories: Two summers ago we had a very nice breakfast picnic overlooking the river (with homemade cinnamon rolls). They’ve put some nice tables and picnic platforms in perfect spots.

What My Kids Want Me To Say: The rocks aren’t too dangerous, let your kids climb 101_0072around awhile.

Jamsco Ranking: Very nice

Final Word: If you’re like we were three years ago and you’ve seen the signs on your way between the Twin Cities and Duluth and have never stopped in, you really should. It’s less than a half mile from Interstate 35.

Thoughts? Comments? Have you been to this park? Do you agree with my assessment?

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A Little Meta Housekeeping (RMnSP)

(Apologies for duplicate posts if you subscribe to more than one of my blogs)

I currently manage four blogs:

The Responsible Puppet – First Blog
The Responsible Father – Dad Blog
Revisiting MN State Parks – Reviews of State Parks
Fighter Verse Songs – The Ministry* I produce songs for and my Creative Outlet

But if you’d like to be alerted any time I post to any of these, you can now just subscribe to my newly created Twitter account.

I’ve got 8 tweets and 6 followers so far!

* Depending, of course, on your definition of ‘Ministry’

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John Latsch State Park

Name: John Latsch State Park   DSCN0749

Year it became a State Park: 1925

Section of Minnesota: Mississippi River, East Coast

Nearby Town: Winona

Positives: The view and the woods.

The Negatives: Very small, no maps, no camping.

General Comments: If you’d like a nice hour long hike to a very nice view of the Mississippi Valley, this is the place.

Something Everyone Wants To See: The Overlook

But you should also check out: The short little walk at the end of the loop. There’s a DSCN0757nice ridge overlooking a curving creek.

Nearby attraction to visit: Anywhere on the river. Both Wabasha and Winona have multiple places to experience the Mississippi more intimately.

Interesting Trivia: This park is named after a Winona business man who liked the area. He bought the land and donated it to the state for public use. It’s near three river bluffs named Faith, Hope and Charity by river captains who used them as navigational markers.

Personal Stories: After driving by it many times, my wife and I visited this park (and DSCN0751met some friends) for the first time this weekend. We enjoyed the walk through the fall woods.

What My Kids Want Me To Say: Next time we should let them come with.

Jamsco Ranking: County Park Level

Final Word: It looks like you don’t need a state park sticker to visit. Try it out.

Thoughts? Comments? Have you been to this park? Do you agree with my assessment?

Posted in County Park Level, East Coast Parks | 2 Comments

Wild River State Park

Name: Wild River State Park

Year it became a State Park: 1978

Section of Minnesota: St. Croix River

Nearby Town: North Branch

Positives: Another beautiful spot on a major river in Minnesota.

The Negatives: Nothing comes to mind.

General Comments: Nice trails, beautiful open meadows, forests, hills and valleys.

Something Everyone Wants To See: The River.

But you should also check out: There is an outdoor ‘Interpretive Exhibit’ near the entrance which is unique and interesting to walk around.


Nearby attraction to visit: Taylor’s Falls is always fun, as is Wild Mount Ski Area.

Interesting Trivia: The Nevers Dam trail brings you to the spot where a significant dam helped the logging that used to go down the river here.


Personal Stories: We often go to this park in March/April for the Maple Sap boil. I’ve also written three poems with the Never’s Dam Trail as the back drop.

What My Kids Want Me To Say: If you climb down the steep bank into the marshy area along the Nevers Dam Trail, you can catch a crayfish.

Jamsco Ranking: Very Nice.

Final Word: The view from the deck of the information center is a great place for a picnic.

Thoughts? Comments? Have you been to this park ? Do you agree with my assessment?

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The Star Tribune Chooses More Wisely

Every year the Star Tribune puts out their yearly “Best of MN” magazine. You may recall that last year they chose a state park that I suggested was less than the best.

This year (no, they didn’t consult me) they made a better choice: Gooseberry.

Among the most beautiful parks anywhere in North America, Gooseberry Falls is perched magnificently along Minnesota’s North Shore. Featuring five waterfalls . . .

Like I’ve said, choosing a best state park would be very difficult, but at least this one would be in my top ten.

And yes, I’ll be revisiting another state park soon.


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Minnesota Hyperlapse – Google Maps


Have you heard about the new tool that allows a user to make videos from the Google Maps Street Level Photos? The results are very interesting. I made a few for Minnesota sites that work well with this medium. Take a look! (They take about a minute to load up.)

Silver Creek Tunnel North of Two Harbors

Driving into Red Wing – Barn Bluff

Sugar Loaf, Winona

Duluth Highway overlooking Lake

Coming From Canada (Highway 61)

Grand Marais Lighthouse

Entering MN from IA (Highway 35)

And here are a few more urban settings
Lowry Hill Tunnel – Minneapolis

Airplane leaving Twin Cities Airport

Heading into downtown MPLS (from 35W)

IDS Building

Did I miss any?

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