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Fort Snelling State Park

Fort Snelling State Park is a state park of the U.S. state of Minnesota, at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers. For many centuries, the … See more

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Sep 25, 2022
Lots of trails and a nice visitor center. Can climb the hill to the Fort. $7/park for the day. Plenty of park in many areas. Full review by jwest
Jul 23, 2022
I was here yesterday and saw many deer and fawn and racoons. Had several people park up close. Sitting in cars staring at me. Came back today another park patron informed me my tail light was out. I… Full review by barneyb141
Jun 25, 2022
This was our first visit and we enjoyed seeing the displays. The children and all of us enjoyed the interpreters. I appreciated that there was a Native interpreter in one of the buildings to explai… Full review by IowaSally2012

Articles

A Natural Retreat Amidst an Urban Setting!
The forest bottoms and marshes are home to an abundance of wildlife, including white-tailed deer, fox, woodchucks, turkeys, and coyotes. Visitors might also come across a fox snake which is almost identical in appearance to a rattle snake, but is not poisonous. Snapping, soft-shelled and painted turtles can be seen basking in the sun along the river or in one of the lakes.For hundreds of years before Europeans arrived, generations of Dakota people lived in villages along the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers that meet in Fort Snelling State Park. The river confluence was believed to be the place of origin and center of the earth by the bands of Mde-wa-kan-ton-wan Dakota, the "Dwellers by Mystic Lake." By the late 1600s, Europeans had visited the area. In the 1820s, historic Fort Snelling was built on the bluff above the two historic rivers to control the exploration, trade, and settlement on these waterways.The area was established as a state park in 1961. The swimming beach, added in 1970, remains a popular recreation attraction in the park. In 1997, a new visitor center opened to the public. Located in the heart of the Twin Cities, this park offers extensive hiking, bike and ski trails that link to Minnehaha Park and the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Canoe on Gun Club Lake, play golf, swim in Snelling Lake, or hike on Pike Island where the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers converge. Interpretive exhibits and films on display in the Thomas C. Savage Visitor Center give visitors a good background on the history and resources of the park and area. Trails also allow visitors to hike up to the historic Fort Snelling for a view of military life in the 1820s. This is a day-use only park; no camping is available.
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Traverses Multiple Natural Environments
Fort Snelling State Park is located in the Mississippi River Sandplains Landscape Region at the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers. The park lies just a few miles from the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport. A freeway exchange carries hundreds of thousands of cars past the park’s entrance. But once at the trailhead, the hectic pace of modern civilization fades to a quiet peaceful natural setting. The 2,931-acre park has 18 miles of easy to moderate hiking trails that meander through woodlands, around lakes and along riverbanks. During the winter, exploring the landscape on snowshoes is an incredible experience. With good snowfall, snowshoes allow you to explore areas of the park outside of the established trail network. Pike Island is a place to start that winter adventure. While there are cross country ski trails on the outside edge of Pike Island, the interior can be a mystical place on a crisp winter day. The Pike River trail traverses multiple natural environments including forest, wetland, prairie meadow and riverbanks. The forest, river bottoms and marshes are home white-tailed deer, fox, woodchucks, turkeys, and even coyotes. The entrance to the Pike River trail starts below the gift center at end of park entrance road. A short paved trail leads dirt and crushed limestone path and the Pike Island signpost. Pike Island was named after Zebulon Pike, an Army Lieutenant who negotiated a treaty with the Dakota nation in 1805. A commemorate plaque provides more details. The Pike River Trail ends at small rocky beach. Take a moment to take the thermos out of your daypack and sit on the bench to watch the ice floes at the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers. After crossing an arched bridge over a ice covered river delivers hikers to the Pike River Trail trailhead. The river bottom features large cottonwoods, silver maples, ash, and willow trees along the intertwined narrow channels of the Minnesota River. When Mother Nature brings deep snow, the untracked blanket of white invites you to move ahead to see what's around the next turn. Tall cottonwoods act as sentinels along the path and cast odd shadows on a January day. Meander through the woods and catch glimpses of Minnesota River visible on the right. Many people hike Fort Snelling's trail system during the summer. The ability to leave the established trail system and explore deep into the woods on snowshoes can take you to parts of the park that during the summer would be filled with impenetrable brush and swarms of mosquitoes. In the winter, tracks of deer, fox and possibly coyote will reveal themselves in the snow. Since the trees are bare, catching a glimpse of wildlife is not uncommon. The Thomas C. Savage Visitor Center has interpretive exhibits, toilets, vending machines and a gift shop. Informative exhibits describe the areas history. Naturalist programs are offered year-round and visitor staff can offer advice and current trail conditions. Fort Snelling State Park is open daily, year-round 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Call the visitor center 612-725-272 for holiday hours. Vehicle permits are required. Permits are offered for annual or daily prices. Maps are available at the Visitor’s Center and can be downloaded from the park’s website.
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