Minnesota’s third oldest state park is home to a newly re-established American Bison herd. Enjoy a fun day of exploring Minneopa State Park filled with natural and historical features, including Southern Minnesota’s largest waterfall.
There are two sides to Minneopa.
One is the waterfalls side off of County Highway 69 and location of the park contact station. The second side is the campground area off of State Highway 68 and the bison range. Drive through the bison range to see North America’s largest mammal. Bison Drive is open Thursday through Tuesday and closed on Wednesdays for maintenance. Drive hours vary by season, so please check the park website for the current hours. Walk down to the double waterfall and take in the splendor of a deep gorge. Bring a picnic lunch and sit under the budding maple trees and look for emerging spring wildflowers. Check the park’s events calendar to schedule your visit around a naturalist program.
Stop at the park office on the waterfalls side to pick up a map PDF and other information about the park and surrounding area. Go for a leisurely drive through the bison range to check out this herd of 11 animals. Stop at the Seppmann Mill to learn more about this historic grist mill and experience a scenic view of the Minnesota River Valley and bison range. Take a walk from the group campground parking lot down to the confluence of Minneopa Creek and the Minnesota River State Water Trail. Look for spring wildflowers, towering cottonwood trees and listen for the sound of rushing water. The walk is 0.3 miles one-way on a gravel and dirt trail that has some steep sections.
Travel back to the waterfalls side to check out the double waterfalls dropping over 50 feet into a deep gorge. A Dakota word, Minneopa has been translated as “water falling twice.” Walk down into the gorge to enjoy the wide variety of spring wildflowers, an active beaver colony and the steep sandstone cliffs. The walk is 0.6 miles one way on a trail of cement and dirt with steep steps leading in and out of the gorge. Bring a picnic lunch and find a shady spot to listen to the water falling and maybe a train whistle or two. Explore the historic features built by a Works Progress Administration during the 1930s. These unemployed men constructed the former Concession/Picnic building, bathroom and steps leading down into the gorge.
The park is located off U.S. Highway 169 and State Highway 68, five miles west of Mankato Minnesota. The park office is at 54497 Gadwall Road, on the waterfalls side. For more information, click here.