Traveler - Fall in Love with the Outdoors

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.

parks and rec


A monthly e-newsletter to encourage “I Can!” program participants and other families to continue learning about the outdoors.

fall in love with the outdoors banner

February 2018

Park Highlight:  Lake Bemidji State Park


boy and girl skiing


This Valentine’s Day, fall in love with Lake Bemidji State Park!  Located 10 minutes north of Bemidji, this park is the perfect playground any time of year, offering visitors swimming, boating, fishing, bird watching, hiking, camping, biking, picnicking, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and year-round naturalist-led activities.  In the springtime, hikers can explore the beauty of a tamarack bog carpeted with showy lady's slippers and other unique flora.  During the summer months, pontoon tours take visitors on the water to explore the local history of the lake and the great Mississippi River.  Lake Bemidji State Park is the northern trail head for the Paul Bunyan State Trail, one of the longest paved trails in the United States. .


boy at lake bemidji state park sign

The List:  Ski for Your Heart


Cross country skiing can be the perfect hobby to help you increase physical activity during the winter months.  This heart-healthy past-time can be strenuous so start out in areas more suited to your capabilities and gradually work up to more difficult areas that demand higher skill levels. 

Anyone age 16 or older must carry a signed ski pass when using groomed cross-country ski trails in state parks or state forests, or on state trails or grant-in-aid trails. You don't need a ski pass if you aren't using groomed trails.

Lake Bemidji State Park is one of 23 state parks in Minnesota that provide groomed classic ski trails.  Some of the most popular cross country skiing destinations are Metro area state parks with beginner-level ski trails.  Examples include:

  • Afton State Park - beginner ski loop is 2.5 miles long with a warming house near the trailhead.  
  • Fort Snelling State Park - 11 miles of easy- to-moderate ski trails through forested river bottoms.  
  • William O’Brien State Park - ski trails are groomed for both skating and traditional use on the same trail. One set of tracks are on the right side of each trail and an eight foot skating surface is on the left side of the trail.
learn more button
Find more information about cross country skiing at Minnesota State Parks and Trails

girl with marshmellow

Game Time:  Winter Picnics


Add special flair to your winter adventure by packing an energized picnic to fuel your loved ones. Foods won't spoil, so the sky's the limit when it comes to creative snacks and meals that provide high energy for hard play. And remember—yard games aren't just for summer! Consider playing active, running games to warm up chilly children (and adults).  

learn more button
Check out tips for planning a winter picnic.

barred owl

Nature Sightings:  Love Birds


Whooo is that calling in the dark?  Around Valentine’s Day each year, our barred owls begin singing their mating songs as part of their courtship ritual.  Throughout the countryside as well as in some towns and even cities, the barred owl, one of our most common owl species, can be heard calling during the twilight hours, especially during a full moon. 

Owls are very territorial during mating season and will call not only to attract a potential mate, but also to discourage competing owls from entering their territory.  You can learn more about Minnesota owls and other creatures of the night by attending one of many evening programs and night hikes offered at state parks.  

    learn more button
    Learn more about owls and other Minnesota birds.

    family around campfire

    Traveler Tip:  Cozy Up by the Fire


    The smoky aroma and crackling sounds of wood burning in a campfire can create a romantic and cozy setting.  And whether or not you're in a state park or in your backyard, campfires should be constructed and maintained with safety in mind.

    The following tips can help you build a safe campfire:

    • Use a designated fire ring or build a campfire in an area cleared of combustible materials 5 feet in all directions around the fire.
    • Campfires should be 3 feet or less in diameter and not more than 3 feet in height.
    • Think before you strike. Check the burning restrictions for your area before lighting a campfire.
    • Select a level spot a safe distance away from trees, low overhead branches, shrubs, dry grass, or logs to prevent the fire from escaping.
    • Have a shovel and water available at the campfire site for extinguishing campfires.
    • Supervise the fire at all times. Even a light breeze could cause the fire to spread.
    • Extinguish the campfire with water using the "drown and stir" method.
    learn more button
    Learn more about fire safety and wildfire prevention.


    Discover:  We Love Our Campground Hosts

    Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live or work in a state park? Well, why not find out? For more than 30 years, volunteers have served as "live-in" hosts at Minnesota state parks or state forest campgrounds.  Hosts are needed from early spring through the fall and for at least a four week stay. Campground hosts are provided a free campsite in return for services provided.

      learn more button
      Get more information on the campground host program.

      girl and luminary

       February Candlelight Events


      Whether you’re looking for a fun family event or a romantic night away from the kids, candlelight events provide memorable outdoor experiences for all ages! 

      Check out some of these upcoming events:

          learn more button
          Check out more programs and events.

          Find past issues of the Traveler.