More than 400,000 people visit Fort Snelling State Park every year. For residents of the Twin Cities metropolitan area, it’s a quick trip to nearly 3,000 acres with an abundance of natural areas and wildlife ranging from deer to eagles.
The visitor center, opened in 1997, has year-round naturalist programs. Historic Fort Snelling sits on the bluff above the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers, a spot that the Mdewakantonwan Dakota considered the center of the earth. There are 12 miles of cross-country ski trails in the park — all rated easy; six miles of packed trail for multiple use; and snowshoeing is allowed on any non-groomed trail. An enclosed picnic shelter with a fi eplace offers a place for winter outdoor fun. Dorothy Waltz is the heart and soul — and main contact — for the Fort Snelling State Park Association.
Tell us about the Fort Snelling State Park Association and its activities.
We’ve been doing business since the early 1960s. For more than 40 years, we’ve been involved in preserving not only Fort Snelling State park, but also Historic Fort Snelling [the fort itself] and the part that is called the Upper Post, the old officers’ row. We try to help the park in any way we can. This year we sponsored four free concerts in the park and we help provide refreshments for various events.
What are some of the association’s accomplishments?
We try to lobby for the park. We were active in getting the visitor center built, and the association paid for the exhibits inside the visitor center.
We know there are lots of history programs at Fort Snelling in the summer, but what is there to do in the park during the winter?
They always have cross-country skiing, and the naturalists do a wonderful series of winter programs. There’s snowshoeing and geo-caching — it’s one of the state parks that has geo-caching. We’re providing refreshments and luminaria for the New Year’s Eve candlight ski and walk, 6–9 p.m. Dec. 31. It’s just a lot of fun — and you’re finished in time to go to another party if you want to.
How can people get involved with the Fort Snelling State Park Association?
Memberships are available for $25 — which includes all members of your household.
Go online to
or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. B