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MINNESOTAS BACKYARD

The 20th destination on our 20-site tour of Minnesota's state parks brings us to the heart of the Twin Cities, where you will find an oasis of wilderness in the urban heart of the state. Fort Snelling State Park is neither as quiet or secluded as other parks in Minnesota, but for Twin Citians it offers history and hiking where the state's major rivers meet.
Destination No. 19 on our 20-site tour of Minnesota's state parks brings us to one of the great waterfalls, and one of the state's greatest mysteries, at Judge C.R. Magney State Park. One of the quieter and more remote places on the North Shore, a hike to see the Devil's Kettle has fascinated visitors for generations, even after the mystery was solved.
The 18th stop on our tour of 20 Minnesota State Parks is to a place where you can explore the land and the water, but the most intriguing visitors arrive by air. Kilen Woods State Park offers hiking in the woods and the prairie, canoeing and kayaking on the Des Moines River, and some of the best birding in Minnesota.
The 17th stop on our tour of 20 Minnesota State Parks is to the newest member of the state park system. Officially less than a decade old, Lake Vermilion State Park was born out of land acquired and preserved during the region's mining boom in the 1880s.

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The 16th stop on our tour of 20 Minnesota State Parks is to a quiet, remote part of north-central Minnesota that was given a perfectly descriptive name 100 years ago. Scenic State Park has history, both natural and man-made, and great fishing on two glacial lakes.
The 16th stop on our tour of 20 Minnesota State Parks is to a quiet, remote part of north-central Minnesota that was given a perfectly descriptive name 100 years ago. Scenic State Park has history, both natural and man-made, and great fishing on two glacial lakes.
The 15th stop on our tour of 20 Minnesota State Park brings us to a quiet stretch of the Rainy River, which forms our northern border with Canada. Minnesota's smallest state park offers much more than one might expect, including a riverside campground and myriad perfect picnic spots.
The 14th stop on our tour of 20 Minnesota State Parks brings us to the heart of lake country -- no, not the prototypical northern Minnesota kind with pines and deep lakes, but the southern Minnesota version with tall hardwoods, shallow lakes, lots of nearby cornfields and some of the best biking in the state.
The 13th stop on our tour of 20 Minnesota State Parks is a place where Minnesota nature meets Minnesota history, just up the hill from the Minnesota River. Fort Ridgely State Park was a working military base before Minnesota was a state, and site of some of the most violent battles of the 1862 Dakota Uprising.
The 12th stop on our tour of 20 Minnesota State Parks is a peaceful alternative to nearby Lake of the Woods. The man-made body of water at Hayes Lake State Park features panfish, a beach, a campground and myriad recreation opportunities for visitors to one of Minnesota's northernmost counties.

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You drive through neighborhoods in one of southern Minnesota's regional centers to reach the 11th stop on our 20-site tour of Minnesota's state parks, then you turn a corner, go down a hill and find yourself in a wonderland of woods and prairie at Flandrau State Park, which is a perfect home base for hiking and heritage festivals.
We reach the halfway mark on our 20-site tour of Minnesota's state parks with a visit to a geographical anomaly, and a site of centuries-old history, in mostly flat Aitkin County. Savanna Portage State Park is home to remote lakes, an excellent campground, and miles of hilly hiking trails, one of which was in use hundreds of years ago.
Just a short drive east of one of western Minnesota's regional centers, visitors will find stop No. 9 on our 20-site tour of Minnesota's state parks. The shallow, rocky and scenic Buffalo River winds through the state park that bears its name, and features some native prairie grass so vital to the plants and animals of the Red River Valley.

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