There are 67 State Parks in Minnesota, and throughout the state, knowledgeable staff and naturalists provide regular programming. I explored some of them with my mom.
Geo-caching is basically a high-tech scavenger hunt using GPS units, and it is very “in.” I first heard about geo-caching a few years ago as an up-and-coming trend, and now it seems like every outdoor recreation organization is leading geo-caching events, so I figured I needed to give it a try. My conclusion? It’s a distraction from a perfectly good walk, but not everyone seems to agree. As we ambled about, I saw one group making mad dashes through groves, crawling under branches, and splashing through the muck with GPS units in hand, gleefully discovering and photographing hidden symbol after symbol. Meanwhile, my mom and I snapped shots of the pretty birdies.
But, most importantly: The Landscape
After taking the online “Virtual Tours” of several State Parks in the area, I decided to visit Big Stone Lake State Park based on the variety of the landscape and the lake’s hydrologic significance. The park has two sections about 12 miles apart, both bordering Big Stone Lake. The southern portion, Meadowbrook, is more open, with a prairie-like vistas and big skies, while the northern section, Bonanza, includes wooded trails. You can access the lake and camp at both areas, or just wander about looking at the flora and fauna. Between the two areas, both the deciduous woodlands and open prairies of the Minnesota River watershed are represented.
Then, there’s Big Stone Lake itself. It is 26 miles long and about one mile wide, and it fills the very upstream reaches of the river valley carved by Glacial River Warren. Big Stone Lake was originally dammed naturally by the Whetstone River’s delta, though an artificial dam now performs this role. The lake is calm and beautiful today, but looking at its expanse and imagining the power of the river that carved its bed is a reminder of the history of the Minnesota River, a mere remnant of the once-raging River Warren.
Blog post by Ariel Herrod, Watershed Sustainability Program Coordinator. Photo Credits to Ariel Herrod and Christine Obriecht