Like the kind of adventurous that involves canoeing or kayaking down turbulent rapids? Or hiking along dramatic sandstone rock formations? Or maybe even braving chilly fall nights for a weekend of camping?
If this sounds appealing to you, then Banning State Park is worth a visit. What makes this state park unique is sandstone rock formations/stone cliffs filled with lichens, liverworts, and moss, plus river views and wildlife.
What the park is most popular for, however, is hiking and camping. Approximately 17 miles of trails will bring you Wolf Creek Falls, the Log Creek Arches, and Robinson’s Ice Cave.
Natural history buffs will appreciate the hardwood forests, quarry remains, sandstone cliffs, and infamous kettles (how Kettle River received its name). You might just recognize the base of the Capital dome here, as it was cut out of sandstone from a quarry at Banning State Park.
Large potholes were carved by harder stones which spun around by the river’s eddies, located in the sides of the gorge where the river cut through. Continue down the path to the banks of the river as it cuts through the sandstone and changes into a series of whitewater rapids, known as Blueberry Slide, Mother’s Delight, Dragon’s Tooth, Little Banning and Hell’s Gate, which are considered an ultimate fantasy for kayakers.
Other popular activities at Banning State Park include picnicking, biking, boating; and when the snow falls, cross country skiing and snowmobiling.
Banning State Park is a few minutes off of I-35 near Sandstone, about an hour-and-a-half drive from the Twin Cities.