« The Great Outdoors

Minnesota's crown-jewel state park

by Mike McFeely

Minnesota is blessed with 67 state parks, public property owned by the state for use by its citizens (and everybody). And Minnesotans use their state parks. According to the Department of Natural Resources, state parks hosted 7,989,720 visitors in 2012.

And to think, some conservative politicians want to privatize state parks because they don't believe the "gummint" has any business running parks.

But enough about idiots.

Lake Itasca State Park near Park Rapids is Minnesota's first state park. It was founded on April 20, 1891. It remains incredibly popular, having seen 512,352 people visit the park in 2012.

Our family has made it a tradition to visit Lake Itasca State Park in the fall to see the changing leaves, have a picnic and splash around in the headwaters of the Mississippi River. We've also begun to visit in the summertime, renting a cabin for a couple of days to bike, swim, hike and generally loaf.

Here are a handful of photos from our excursions to Lake Itasca. It's a wonderful place.