The National Park Service in Minnesota

Voyageurs National Park, National Parks, fall trips, travel
Voyageurs National Park

Photo by Paul Stafford, courtesy of Explore Minnesota Tourism

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the “Organic Act,” to establish the National Park Service. A century later, the NPS oversees protected natural areas in all 50 states, including several in Minnesota.

Voyageurs National Park

As its name suggests, Minnesota’s only National Park includes watery terrain of our northern border once canoed by French Canadian fur traders. In fact, all park campsites are only accessible by watercraft, or some visitors choose to explore via houseboat.

Grand Portage National Monument

Located in Minnesota’s northeastern tip, this site was an important link between Lake Superior and inland water routes for both Native Americans and fur traders. Facilities show what life was like for Ojibwa and voyageurs in the 18th Century. 

Pipestone National Monument

Southwestern Minnesota is home to a deposit of red stone called catlinite, traditionally used by plains tribes to make ceremonial pipes. Today, Native Americans continue the tradition of quarrying and pipe-making.  

Grand Portage National Monument, National Parks, fall trips, travel
Grand Portage National Monument

Photo by Bryan Hansel

Mississippi National River & Recreation Area

Some 72 miles of the Mississippi running through the Twin Cities have been designated a national waterway, attracting numerous boaters, hikers, bikers, and more.

St. Croix National Scenic Riverway

This Minnesota-Wisconsin partnership of the St. Croix and Namekagon rivers creates more than 200 miles of scenic waterway that cuts through thick forests and once served as liquid highways for loggers to move white pine timber to area mills.

North Country National Scenic Trail

The park service is working on what will soon be the longest continuous hiking trail in the United States, linking New York with North Dakota. Minnesota’s section includes portions of the Superior Hiking Trail, the Gunflint Trail, the Boundary Waters, and the Chippewa National Forest.

Read more:
The Ultimate Black Hills Vacation: From the Badlands to Mt. Rushmore, it’s South Dakota’s classic family trip
Minnesota State Parks To Do List: The steepest hike, the wildest rapids, and the best place to spot albino deer, all within the state’s borders