The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources hosts a series of free park days each year, where visitors to Minnesota's state parks and recreation areas pay no vehicle permit fees at all 74 state parks and recreation areas.

The first "Free Park Day" of 2024 was on Monday, January 15, and with Earth Day approaching, the DNR is ready to host another one, and this one will provide additional opportunities at select parks.

Each spring, a Free Park Day is held on the Saturday after Earth Day, which the DNR says is also a great time to remind visitors to recreate responsibly to protect natural resources.

Some examples of recreating responsibly include:

  • Spring is a time of increased wildlife activity; respect wildlife by observing from a distance.
  • Please stay on trails when hiking or biking to avoid erosion and damage to sensitive plants and wildlife habitats.
  • Love the blooming spring wildflowers? Resist the urge to pick – take a photo instead. Leave flowers, rocks, and other natural objects as they are found.
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When Is The Next "Free Park Day"?

The DNR will be hosting the next "Free Park Day" on Saturday, April 27. A bonus for those venturing outside on that day is that interpretive naturalists have planned special programming at some park locations, which will be free for park attendees.

Special programming scheduled on April 27 includes:

EarthFest 2024: Wild River State Park, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Nature walks, speakers, live music, and service projects centered around the theme of prairies and why we care about them will all be available. The event will highlight the almost 500 acres of restored prairie at Wild River State Park. All ages are welcome, though this event is geared toward ages eight and up. Pick and choose from activities or come for the full day.

Invasive Naturalist Tent: Fort Snelling State Park, 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Visit a park naturalist at the tent to see non-native species of plants and animals in the park and learn how these invasive species are changing native landscapes and habitats. Drop by for a few minutes or stay for the whole hour.

Signs of Spring Hike: Itasca State Park, 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Put on walking shoes and head down the trail with a naturalist looking for interesting plants and animals that are starting to make their spring appearance. The hike will be 1 to 2 miles in length.

Spring Awakening: Ephemeral Wildflower Hike: Minneopa State Park, 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Join a park naturalist to explore the exciting wildflowers that are some of the first signs of spring and how they reveal a landscape that awakens with life each year. The hike will be approximately 2.7 miles long and follow the Minnesota River Bluff Trail, which consists of mostly flat gravel trails.

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If you'd like more details about these highlighted events or would like to see the full state park events calendar, just click on the button below.

The Minnesota DNR's ParkFinder tool is also a great way to find activities that are right for you.

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