Free entrance to Minnesota state parks on April 27

Published 5:55 pm Tuesday, April 16, 2024

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The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is waiving vehicle permit fees at all 74 state parks and recreation areas on Saturday, April 27.

This “Free Park Day” is one of four days each year on which the DNR waives the requirement for a vehicle permit at state parks and recreation areas. The four fee-free days are spread out over the year, giving folks an opportunity to visit a state park for free in each season of the year.

“Minnesota state parks and recreation areas are great places to make memories with loved ones,” said Ann Pierce, director of the DNR Parks and Trails Division. “Spring is an ideal time to reconnect with the natural world and enjoy the beauty of Minnesota’s state parks and recreation areas. I encourage visitors to look for signs of spring like early-blooming wildflowers, migrating birds, and the opening of green leaves on trees. Our goal is for those who visit on Free Park Day to be inspired to come back again soon.”

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Each spring, Free Park Day is held on the Saturday after Earth Day. Earth Day is a great time to remind visitors to always recreate responsibly to protect natural resources. For example:

• Spring is a time of increased wildlife activity; respect wildlife by observing from a distance.

• Please stay on trails when hiking or biking to avoid erosion and damage to sensitive plants and wildlife habitat.

• Love the blooming spring wildflowers? Resist the urge to pick – take a photo instead. Leave flowers, rocks and other natural objects as they were found.

Interpretive naturalists at some park locations have planned programming for the Free Park Day. There is no cost to participate in these events. Find more details about these highlighted events or see the full state park events calendar online (

EarthFest 2024: Wild River State Park, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Join in a day of nature walks, speakers, live music and service projects centered around the theme of prairies and why we care about them. The event will highlight the almost 500 acres of restored prairie at Wild River State Park. A variety of experts will lead sessions, including naturalists, cultural teachers and musicians. All ages are welcome, though this event is geared toward ages eight and up. Pick and choose from activities or come for the full day.

Invasive Naturalist Tent: Fort Snelling State Park, 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Visit a park naturalist at the tent to see non-native species of plants and animals in the park and learn how these invasive species are changing native landscapes and habitats. Drop by for a few minutes or stay for the hour.

Signs of Spring Hike: Itasca State Park, 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Explore signs of spring. Put on walking shoes and head down the trail with a naturalist looking for interesting plants and animals that are starting to make their spring appearance. The hike will be 1 to 2 miles in length.

Spring Awakening: Ephemeral Wildflower Hike: Minneopa State Park, 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Join a park naturalist to explore the exciting wildflowers that are some of the first signs of spring and how they reveal a landscape that awakens with life each year. The hike will be approximately 2.7 miles long and follow the Minnesota River Bluff Trail, which consists of mostly flat gravel trails.