Lac Qui Parle State Park
French explorers living with the Native Americans along the upper Minnesota River gave Lac Qui Parle Lake its musical name based on Dakota Indian legend. Lac Qui Parle, or the “lake that talks,” really does seem to talk when you listen to the collected voices of thousands of geese during spring and fall migrations. Lac Qui Parle State Park is located five miles northwest of Watson on the Minnesota River Valley Scenic Byway in Minnesota’s Lac Qui Parle County.
Camping and Lodging
The modern campground has 43 sites, 37 of which offer electrical service. Nine sites offer full hookups. Three more secluded, cart-in sites are available while two group campsites offer space for 50 people each. There are also three camper cabins at this park.
Plants and Wildlife
The 530-acre state park at the foot of the lake lies next to the 27,000-acre Lac Qui Parle Wildlife Management Area, which stretches to the northwest. When the Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge was created, it transformed the upper Minnesota River Valley into a vast game preserve that harbors deer, geese, prairie chickens, pheasants and other game.
Watching the seasonal waterfowl migrations is a favorite visitor activity at Lac Qui Parle. Spring migrations last from early March to the end of April, while fall flights begin in September and continue until December. During some years, more than 200,000 geese have noisily assembled here for their flight south, making this one of the biggest goose management areas in the country. The Canada geese are banded at Lac Qui Parle to determine where they spend each season.
The native prairie, upland grasslands and farm fields form one of the best pheasant areas in the state.
The wetlands of this region are rich in food for waterfowl. Grasses, sedges and trees like willow and cottonwood provide food and shelter for water-loving birds. Ducks, pelican, cormorants and herons thrive in the low, marshy areas of the upper Minnesota River. Special restrictions apply to human use of the Lac Qui Parle Wildlife Management Area in order to preserve it as a refuge.
While at the park, don’t forget to visit Minnesota’s largest Cottonwood tree.
In 1835, Renville invited Protestant missionary and physician Thomas S. Williamson to found a school and church near the trading post. For the next 20 years, missionaries worked at this remote settlement, attempting to convert the Dakota. The missionaries translated the Gospel and several hymns into the Dakota language and completed its first official grammar and dictionary.
The Lac Qui Parle Mission was the first church in the state. Today, visitors can see a replica of the original abode chapel at the mission site owned by the Minnesota Historical Society and operated by the Chippewa County Historical Society.
The flat terrain gives visitors a chance for an easy outing on snowshoes while observing winter wildlife such as bald eagles and deer. Besides the late fall waterfowl migrations, ice fishing attracts many cold-weather visitors to Lac Qui Parle. An enclosed picnic shelter with fireplace keeps visitors warm. No groomed ski trails are available at this park. Find southern Minnesota ski trails