When the snow has melted, and school is out, it’s time to go outside! Give your family the chance to see all the beautiful Minnesota state parks with the MN State Parks Passport Program.
The Minnesota State Parks Passport will have your kids revved up to see all of Minnesota’s diverse state recreation areas. From crystal blue lakes to our state forests to the mighty Mississippi River, there’s something to do outdoors every day.
If you want to keep the kiddos engaged and entertained, join Twin Cities Kids Club. We’ll bring you amazing family-friendly ideas and discounts for dozens of Twin Cities activities. Sign up today! It’s free!
What Is The MN State Parks Passport Program?
If you live in Minnesota, you already know our state parks and recreation areas can’t be beaten. Your family probably has more than one favorite hiking trail or swimming spot.
But how many of our state parks do you visit in a year?
Minnesota has over seventy different parks and recreation areas. The MN State Parks Passport Program encourages your kids to see as many of them as possible.
You can purchase a Passport Club kit for $14.95 at any of the state park Nature Stores to begin your adventure. Your kit includes a stampable passport, a travel log, and a map detailing all of the state parks and recreation areas.
When you visit a state park, you will get a stamp in your passport. Just present your passport at the park office or entrance station. Then, every time you visit a new park, you’ll get another stamp.
Your kids will be tickled to see their passports fill with stamps of all the places they’ve been.
Once you’ve been to 25 parks, you will receive a cool state park pin. You also get a certificate for a free night of camping. What a neat reward!
If your kids really want to reach for the top, they can get a second camping night by visiting all 75 parks. That’s two free nights of camping!
Your kids will love taking notes and drawing pictures of their favorite places in the included travel logs. What a natural way for them to learn about journaling!
To save some dough, purchase a State Parks pass permit. It’s $35 for a full year from purchase and gets you unlimited visits to the 75 parks. If you plan on completing your Parks Passport, it’s a must-have (single visits are $7 per visit).
The MN State Park Passport Program Will Get Your Kids Moving!
But wait, there’s more.
The MN State Parks Passport Program also has a Hiking Club. The Hiking Club is based on the same idea as the Passport Club, visiting awesome sites and filling your logbook. Just like the Parks Passport Program, it costs $14.95.
Begin your Hiking Club trek with a trip to the Nature Store to purchase your Hiking Club book. Your book will give you details about hikes at each state park.
Each of the designated state trails has a unique password posted on a sign somewhere on the trail. Spoiler: it’s near the halfway point. But you don’t have to tell your kids that. They’ll love discovering the password and recording it in their books.
They can also make a note of the name of the park and the distance they hiked. They’ll be amazed to learn how far they’ve hiked at the end of the season!
As with the Passport Club, your kiddos can earn free nights of camping when they complete enough hikes. The HCT miles accumulate and you receive a patch for 25 miles, 50, 75, 100, 125, 150, 175, and free nights of state park camping after 100 miles and 200 miles.
Between the hiking and passport clubs, you can earn four free nights of camping! Take as long as you need to complete your passports, they don’t expire, and there’s no time frame you have to complete them in.
Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
The world is your oyster! Or, at least Minnesota is. Here are a few of our favorite stops:
Jay Cooke State Park
Would you kids love to trek across the Swinging Bridge? We bet they would!
The bridge sways over the St. Louis River and is accessible to anyone with mobility concerns.
We also love the Thomson Dam and the turn-of-the-century Pioneer Cemetery. Oh, and while you’re there, don’t miss the North Shore waterfall tour.
Tettegouche State Park
Are your kids climbers? The rock climbing at Tettegouche State Park is amazing!
An easy hike up to Shovel Point will reward your family with a fantastic view of Lake Superior. A trip to this park includes the chance to see all sorts of wildlife, including peregrine falcons.
This park is also an excellent place to go cross-country skiing. Extend that outdoor season into winter with this fun activity!
Split Rock Lighthouse State Park
Who isn’t enchanted by a lighthouse? Pack a picnic and enjoy the view of Lake Superior. Then hike out to see the waterfalls.
Grand Portage State Park
Hike the High Falls Trail to see the tallest waterfall in Minnesota. It’s an easy, one-mile trek.
If you want a more challenging hike, head for Middle Falls on Pigeon River. This trail is marked by rocks and roots and is 4.5 miles round-trip.
This park is for day-use only, so plan accordingly.
Whitewater State Park
One of the highlights of this park is the noticeable lack of mosquitos!
The Whitewater River is a great place to fish. Or go on a rock hunting adventure.
Honorable Mention: Voyageurs National Park
Okay, this isn’t a state park. But if you love the Minnesota outdoors, you really should make time for this park.
Take a guided boat tour or rent a canoe and explore on your own.
You can camp in Voyageurs National Park, but the campsites are only accessible by boat. So pack light!
Regardless of which park or state trails you choose, it’s a good idea to check the park website ahead of time. Park experts list the highlights you won’t want to miss. You’ll also find updates about improvements within the park as well as nearby road construction.
If You And Your Family Love Exploring, Join The Club!
There is so much for families to do in The Minneapolis/St. Paul area. How do you get and keep track of your fun family ideas?
Make it easy on yourself. Join Twin Cities Kids Club today! We bring you tons of ideas and discounts for the Twin Cities and around Minnesota. And it’s free!