Seven State Park Picks for Labor Day Weekend

Swimming at Buffalo River State Park
Swimming at Buffalo River State Park, photo by McGhiever (CC-BY-SA-3.0), via Wikimedia Commons

You only have to look at the calendar for Minnesota's state parks to see that summer officially ends on Labor Day weekend. There are a flurry of listings, then let's just say things get quieter.

Winter is long and cold and dark (although there is skiing and snowshoeing to look forward to). If you don't already have plans to enjoy the last days, make some.

No registration is required for the activities below. Go find birds and fish. History and science. Prairie and rivers. Lakes, and forests with trails through them.

Saturday, August 31

Northwest: Music in the Park - Red River Recreation Area, Grand Forks
Enjoy an evening of bluegrass music from a local favorite. Seating will be available at picnic tables or feel free to bring your own lawn chair or blanket. The Friends of the Park will be serving hot dogs and refreshments for a fee with proceeds going towards future programs and projects. Sherlock Campground, 7 - 9 p.m. More.

Twin Cities: If Rivers Could Talk - Fort Snelling State Park, St. Paul
Nestled among the Minnesota and Mississippi River, Fort Snelling State Park has seen its share of changes. We will walk through the floodplain and discuss some of the history the area has seen. Topics of discussion include but are not limited to: Glaciers and waterfalls, Dakota people, fur trade, Historic Fort Snelling, and transportation. Meet at Visitor Center. 11 a.m. - noon. More.

Fort Snelling State Park - St. Paul, Minnesota
Mississippi River, Fort Snelling State Park (Doug Kerr)

St. Croix Valley: Autumn Harvest Day - Wild River State Park, North Branch
Graze the tall-grass prairie in search of native seed, unveil the mysteries of mushrooms with Leslie Jo Meyerhoff, and participate in a variety of other fun fall activities for all ages.

  • Ongoing 10am-3pm: Seed threshing and take-home at the Visitor Center
  • 9:30-10:30am: Snakes Alive! at the Visitor Center
  • 10:30-11:30am: Seed Harvesting at location TBD
  • Noon-2 pm: Monarch Tagging at Trail Center
  • 1-2:30 pm: Mushrooms with Leslie Jo at Visitor Center
  • 2-4 pm: Leaf Art at the Visitor Center
  • 9-10:30 pm: Film in the Forest at the Amphitheater
  • More.

North Shore: Shipwrecks of Lake Superior - Gooseberry State Park, Two Harbors
Dive into the past to uncover and hear the stories of the ships taken by Lake Superior and how the gales of November came early. Meet at Lady Slipper Lodge. More.

Sunday, September 1

Southeast: Bird Banding Demonstration - Whitewater State Park, Elba
Whitewater State ParkJoin Master Bird Bander, Greg Munson, for close-up experiences with birds. Program participants will have the opportunity to handle and release birds after they have been caught in nets, studied, observed and banded with an aluminum tag. Find out how this scientific tool helps wildlife researchers learn more about bird populations and their natural history, including where they go and how long they live. 12:30 - 2 p.m. More.

Lake Country: Camping at Kathio...1,500 B.C. - Mille Lacs Kathio State Park, Onamia
Step back in time as we look at ancient artifacts and walk a short distance to areas where archaeologists found a village of the 1600s and a "campsite" dating to over 3,000 years ago. 10 a.m. More.

St. Croix Valley: Antique Train Ride - William O'Brien State Park, Marine on St. Croix
Join us on the rails as we take an antique train ride! Meet at the visitor center at 10:45am to purchase tickets. At 11:00, we will hike just under 1 mile to the train tracks. A naturalist and a train conductor will rove the train cars and take you on a tour of the history and landscapes of the St. Croix Valley. At Osceola, Wisconsin, you can hop off the train to do lunch or antiquing or stay on the train and head up to Dresser, Wisconsin. Bring along a lunch if you are planning on staying on the train. The day starts at the visitor center at 10:45am. Wear comfortable hiking shoes and bring along plenty of water. The cost is $15.00 for adults, $10.00 for kids 5 - 15, and children under 4 ride free. More.

Osceola Train
Photo by Flickr user Reboots

Monday, Labor Day

Take it easy. There are a few events scheduled, so maybe just spend some time soaking in summer. Float on a lake. Swim in a river. Hike up a ridge.

Listen to the wind in the trees.

Try to memorize what the sun feels like.


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