Traveler - Family Gatherings at Sibley State Park

Minnesota State Parks and Trails
June 2016

large group at group camp

Sibley State Park

Planning a reunion, graduation or wedding? Consider Sibley State Park in west-central Minnesota for your next family gathering. Besides the exceptional outdoor recreation opportunities and diversity of year-round interpretive programs, the park also offers roomy accommodations for large groups. It can sleep up to 128 people in its seven bunk houses. The group center facilities also include staff quarters, a dining hall, a modern sanitation building, and a craft hall, as well as an outdoor amphitheater. These facilities are perfect for large get-togethers. Get more information and make reservations here.

The List - Parks with Indoor Lodging

A number of state parks offer indoor accommodations and several are set up for large group gatherings, summer youth camps and environmental education overnight visits for school groups.

  • At Whitewater State Park you'll find the only year-round group center in the state park system.
  • The Norway Point Center at  St.Croix State Park can accommodate up to 215 people.
  • Just outside New Ulm, Flandrau State Park provides group center facilities and a unique chlorinated, sand-bottom swimming pool.
group center cabins at Whitewater State Park
Find out more about indoor camping and group center lodging at state parks.

poster of minnesota birds

Game Time - Listen to the Birds

It's spring and the birds are back!  You can have fun learning the calls of common Minnesota songbirds by exploring this interactive bird songs poster on the Department of Natural Resources website.

Once you've learned a few calls, take a family walk to listen for birds you can recognize!

Nature Sightings - Bird Watching

Bird watching has been coined a "gateway" hobby as it tends to help people foster a lifelong connection to the outdoors.   Besides a pair of binoculars and a good field guide, bird watching does not require much for equipment. Learn more about bird watching here.

At Sibley State Park, you can observe a variety of bird species throughout the summer months.  Birds commonly seen at Sibley include great blue herons, egrets, wood ducks, Canada geese, scarlet tanagers, indigo buntings, pelicans, loons and bluebirds.  You can check out a free birding kit at the park. The kit includes a pair of binoculars, guide books and a bird list unique to the park.  You'll find a list of other state parks with Birding Kits here.

fort snelling bird watching
Explore birding events in state parks.

125th anniversary logo for mn state parks

June 11 - National Get Outdoors Day

Admission is free to all 75 Minnesota state parks and recreation areas on Saturday, June 11. It is National Get Outdoors Day, so many special events will be taking place throughout the state. This year is also the 125th anniversary of Minnesota State Parks and Trails, because Itasca State Park, Minnesota's oldest state park, was established in 1891.  Here are just a few highlights of the numerous events scheduled on June 11; many more can be found in our online calendar at

  • Summer Sampler -  Outdoor Explorations, June 11, noon - 3 p.m., Lake Carlos State Park. Come and go as you please between skill stations at which you can try geocaching, archery and fishing. Or take a short bald-eagle-themed hike with a naturalist.
  • Summer Sampler -  Family Outdoor Fair, June 11, noon - 3 p.m., Whitewater State Park. Try your hand at canoeing, archery, geocaching, bird watching or making your own walking stick. See live raptors and more!
  •  Picnic Gathering - June 11, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Fort Snelling State Park. Rediscover the pleasure of a family picnic at the park. Bring your lunch and meet near the beach for scavenger hunts, a story walk and other nature activities the whole family can enjoy.
  • Total Takeover: Let's fill every campsite and have a statewide sleepover on June 11! 
Learn More Button
Find more 125th Anniversary events.