Looking for some summer fun? Check out Minnesota park passports
7/8/2021 by Brian Lynch, M.D., and Cassandra Greenwood, M.P.H.
Whether you're looking for fun family activities or solo adventures this summer, Minnesota park passports have plenty of activities to choose from.
These park passports contain outdoor activities that you can check off one by one. If you or your family are looking summer ideas, check out these Minnesota park passports:
- Passport Club
As a Passport Club member, your goal will be to visit each one of Minnesota's state parks and recreation areas — from A to Z. You will get to see amazing scenery and discover something wonderful and new. Buy your Passport Club kit to get started. You can purchase the kit for $14.95 plus tax at any state park Nature Store, or by calling Gooseberry Falls State Park at 218-595-7101. Shipping is an additional fee. You'll receive a pin and a certificate for a free night of camping when you get 25 stamps. When you've collected the stamps for all of Minnesota's state parks and recreation areas, you'll get another certificate for a free night of camping.
- Hiking Club
The Hiking Club will take you to 68 trails at state parks and recreation areas throughout Minnesota. You'll go past waterfalls, through woods and prairie, discover wildflowers, and maybe even spot wildlife. Buy your Hiking Club book to get started. You can purchase the book for $14.95 plus tax at any state park Nature Store, or by calling Gooseberry Falls State Park at 218-595-7101. Shipping is an additional fee. Each Hiking Club trail has a unique password that you will find on a sign about halfway through your hike. Write the password in your Hiking Club book, along with the park name and the distance you hiked. Present your log at any state park office to get your patches and certificates for free nights of camping.
Southeast Minnesota Park Rx also posts regular updates for outdoor activities and information about all the health benefits you receive from spending time outdoors.
Other passes, passports and events to enjoy
Rochester Parks & Recreation offers a digital version of their Passport to Parks. Here you will find ideas that include swimming at Foster-Arend City Park or Cascade Lake Park, biking on Rochester's 85 miles of paved trails, and hiking and playing I-spy at Quarry Hill Park.
Olmsted County Parks Department's Pass to the Parks has many fun activities listed, along with their intensity level and fun facts about each activity. Some of the options in the Pass to the Parks are renting kayaks at Chester Woods Park, hiking a 2-mile looped trail at Root River Park, taking part in a tree ID scavenger hunt, and visiting Zollman Zoo.
For local activity options at a nearby state park, check out Whitewater State Park's events calendar. The listed programming includes "Introduction to Geocaching," "Bats in the Blufflands," and "Highlights Hike." Visitors to any Minnesota State Parks are required to have a vehicle permit, which is $7 daily or $35 annually. You can purchase a permit prior to your visit at the park office or a state park self-registration station.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources offers Hiking and Passport clubs that will help you discover new destinations and spend time outdoors in Minnesota while earning rewards like a free night of camping.
Have fun and enjoy the wonderful sites Minnesota has to offer.
Brian Lynch, M.D., is a primary care pediatrician at Mayo Family Clinic Northwest in Rochester. He is the co-chair of the Primary Care Work Group of the Mayo Clinic Obesity Council and chair of the Primary Care Obesity Task Force. Dr. Lynch works closely with the Southeast Minnesota Park Rx Team to promote the physical and mental health benefits of spending time in nature to his patients and colleagues.
Cassandra Greenwood, M.P.H., is a community health specialist with Olmsted County Public Health. She works on chronic disease prevention initiatives, including Southeast Minnesota Park Rx.