Blue Mounds State Park

Thunderstorms rumble eastward from South Dakota in sinister blue-black formations that darken the sky for miles. At sunset, the mile-long, 100-foot-tall cliff looks blue, which inspired the westbound pioneers to name this prairie landmark Blue Mounds. Blue Mounds State Park is located 4 miles north of Luverne on Highway 75 in Minnesota’s Rock County.

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Trails

The best sky watching is from the hiking trails on the mound. Of the park’s 13-mile trail system, these trails are the longest and least crowded. On one of the hikes, you’ll pass a 1,250-foot-long stone wall, aligned exactly east and west, that may have helped prehistoric people mark the seasons, but its true origins are unknown. On the northern end of the park trails wrap around two small lakes connected by a stream, then lead to the campground. A two-mile paved bike path connects to nearby Luverne via the three-mile paved Blue Mound Trail.

Camping

The 73-site modern campground is a popular destination during the peak summer season. 14 rustic sites are a bit farther away and the park provides carts to haul gear. There’s even two 18-foot diameter canvas teepees for rent. 

Plants and wildlife

Bird watching is wonderful in the park. More than 200 species have been sighted here. It’s a short hike from the park office to the bison pasture. Bison once roamed freely on this tallgrass prairie and Blue Mounds is one of two parks in Minnesota to reintroduce the species, although in an enclosure. Another buffalo herd is at Minneopa State Park. Keep an eye out for blooming prickly pear cactus in late June and early July.

Winter

The park’s hiking trails are available in the winter. Snowshoeing and skiing is allowed, but there are no groomed trails.

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