Book Review: "Prairie, Lake, Forest: Minnesota’s State Parks"

"Prairie, Lake, Forest: Minnesota's State Parks" book coverI’ll be honest:  When my review copy of "Prairie, Lake, Forest: Minnesota’s State Parks" arrived in the mail last week, I was caught by surprise.

I’d seen it advertised somewhere along the line and knew it had photographs by Doug Ohman who has done so much good photography in Minnesota.  But even though I knew it was full of photos, I hadn’t expected it to be so BIG.  I’d had it in my mind that this was a guidebook to Minnesota’s state parks, but instead it’s a coffee-table book filled with the beauty that Minnesota’s state parks have to offer.

Not that this is a bad thing.  It just wasn’t what I’d expected.  The book’s introduction explains, however, that this is quite intentional.  There are many State Park guidebooks available, but nothing quite like this, with its photos and stories rather than statistics and maps.

The chapters of the book are thematic, focusing on parks known for their waterfalls, for example, or rock climbing.  The tales told in the main text describe our state parks and their many uses in general terms, to go along with the photographs of parks from around the state.  Readers learn about a couple who have found geocaches in all 66 state parks.  They read about the few moments each January when photographers line up in an attempt to capture the full moon over Split Rock Lighthouse.  And they become familiar with the bison herd at Blue Mounds State Park in southwestern Minnesota.

Although the book claims not to be a guidebook, I found many useful pieces of information in its sidebars.  I loved reading the history of the parks’ names, learning which parks have waterfalls, and the difference between cart-in and pack-in campsites.  These straightforward lessons are not only interesting, but something I’ll refer to again.

As a family who’s recently begun camping in Minnesota’s state parks, we’re learning which parks we want to visit, and this book brought several new parks to my attention as places I want to visit.

While it’s not a guidebook that you’ll likely throw in your backpack for your next camping trip, Prairie, Lake, Forest may well find a place on your bookshelf until you pull it off midwinter to relive the summer memories from your time in Minnesota’s state parks.

Now that I’ve read it, the biggest question is this:  With so many choices, which park should we go to next?

Buy your copy of "Prairie, Lake, Forest: Minnesota's State Parks" »

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Linda Kramer, aka "minnemom," loves to travel with her husband and four young children.  While cross-country roadtrips are exciting for her family, she gets the most enjoyment from finding new and interesting places in Minnesota.  She writes reviews of the places they visit at Travels with Children, http://minnemom.com.

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