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Whitewater State Park

By Jim Umhoefer
Whitewater is southern Minnesota’s most popular state park and offers water sports for the whole family. The swimming pond with a guarded beach is usually the first destination for the kids. Parents like to relax in the sun on the big beach or cast a line for trout in one of the park’s creeks.

Whitewater State Park is located about 8 miles north of St. Charles in Minnesota’s Winona County.

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Fantastic valley views at Chimney Rock Point at Whitewater State Park

Fantastic valley views at Chimney Rock Point

The Visitor Center at Whitewater State Park

The Visitor Center

Chimney Rock draws lots of curious visitors at Whitewater State Park

Chimney Rock draws lots of curious visitors

Sandhill Cranes are frequent visitors to the park at Whitewater State Park

Sandhill Cranes are frequent visitors to the park

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Trails
Before hiking the park’s 10-mile trail system, stop at the Chimney Rock Geological Center and the new Whitewater Valley Visitor Center to gain some background on the area’s human and natural history.

The Visitor Center at Whitewater State Park

The Visitor Center

Trails vary from easy river-valley walks to scenic ridge-top hikes involving steep climbs. The Meadow is a self-guiding nature trail through an area of big bluestem grass that hikers of all abilities enjoy.

Wildflowers in full display on the park road at Whitewater State Park

Wildflowers in full display on the park road

Whitewater State Park features several trails that wind upward through dense woods and culminate in broad vistas. Chimney Rock, Ice Cave Point and Coyote Point are nearest the park’s core. Sound carries uphill so well that from the Chimney Rock Trail you’ll easily hear the sound of beachgoers down below.

Eagle Point is one of five scenic lookouts at Whitewater State Park

Eagle Point is one of five scenic lookouts

Fantastic valley views at Chimney Rock Point at Whitewater State Park

Fantastic valley views at Chimney Rock Point

Caves underneath Chimney Rock at Whitewater State Park

Caves underneath Chimney Rock

As you hike toward Inspiration Point, however, the background roar of Trout Run Creek replaces the sound of human voices. Other trails overlook the Whitewater River Valley.

View of the bluffs from the picnic area at Whitewater State Park

View of the bluffs from the picnic area

Donors' names on the repaired steps to the lookout tower at Whitewater State Park

Donors’ names on the repaired steps to the lookout tower

Climb the observation tower and get a bird's eye view of the town of Elba at Whitewater State Park

Climb the observation tower and get a bird’s eye view of the town of Elba

Camping and Lodging
Whitewater has a pair of semi-modern campgrounds with over 148 sites to handle the crowds and the absence of much standing water means mosquitos are a rare species to be spotted here.There are six walk-in sites off one of the loops in the main campground. Organizations can reserve one of three group camps or a group center with cabins, showers, kitchen and a dining hall.
Four year-round and one seasonal cabin have room for five to six each.

 

Fishing
Trout fishing is good in stretches of the park’s two streams. Brown trout are the dominant game fish here, but brook and rainbow trout are caught in some sections. Channel catfish, northern and walleye inhabit the lower Whitewater River, below the park.
Winter
On many winter weekends, the park offers naturalist programs that focus on winter survival, animal-tracks identification and wildlife observation. Besides participating in the winter naturalist programs, visitors enjoy hiking and snowshoeing. No groomed ski trails.
Harmony Chamber
Root River Trail
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