DNR Offers Four Multicultural, Family Fishing Events on Mississippi River

Original news release by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources: http://news.dnr.state.mn.us/2019/07/25/dnr-offering-four-multicultural-family-fishing-events-on-mississippi-river/

Anyone who wants to try fishing is invited to multicultural, family fishing events happening at four locations in four days along the Mississippi River from Coon Rapids to Hastings, where people can get a chance to fish for many types of fish at close-to-home locations. 

Angler fishing on the Mississippi River.

“These events are a way to get people excited about fishing, especially from communities traditionally underrepresented in our angling public,” said Ray Ruiz, Department of Natural Resources fishing and hunting skills liaison. “I see a lot of people fishing the river, and if you think about it, the river connects everybody – from Coon Rapids to Hastings, they all share the same water.”

The events will include fun, interactive and practical fishing methods and techniques and are geared toward anyone who doesn’t much have experience with fishing, lacks fishing equipment or wants to learn how to fish on the river’s edge. Attendees will learn how to tie fishing knots, practice casting, making baits, and fishing, with fishing gear and bait provided. People can attend one or more of the four days of events, scheduled as follows:

  • Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park in Coon Rapids, 4-8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 15
  • Boom Island Park in Minneapolis, 4-8 p.m. Friday Aug. 16
  • Hidden Falls Regional Park in St. Paul, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17
  • Lake Rebecca Park in Hastings, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 18.

The events will let people try river fishing, which can be different from lake fishing because of the moving water and the variety of fish to catch. Each location includes playgrounds, places to grill and amenities near the river. Ruiz also plans to go over fishing techniques and how to fish for different species of fish – from smallmouth bass to panfish to catfish.

“The river flows through our major metro area and it’s a tremendous resource for anyone who wants to give fishing a try,” Ruiz said. “We’re bringing fishing to the people, all you have to do is show up.”

The fishing events are possible through participation of the city of Hastings, city of Minneapolis, National Park Service, city of St. Paul and Three Rivers Park District.

Potential anglers who want to learn how to fish can visit the DNR website at mndnr.gov/GoFishing. The page covers fishing basics, where to fish, how to catch different types of fish, fishing programs to join, and the importance of fishing ethics and being stewards of Minnesota’s natural resources.

On the North Shore, many hands work to help a dying forest

Credit to Cody Nelson of MPR News for the original article: https://www.mprnews.org/story/2019/07/25/north-shore-forest-restoration-white-pine

From bugs to invasive species to hotter temps, a host of factors are laying waste to Minnesota’s northeastern forests.

Emily Krulc, center, and her Minnesota Conservation Corps crew take a lunch break.

Emily Krulc, center, and her Minnesota Conservation Corps crew take a lunch break while planting white pine seedlings in the Moose Creek area near Schroeder, Minn., on June 24.
Evan Frost | MPR News

Northern Minnesota once boasted stands of massive white and red pine — giants that lived up to 350 years, with trunks 4 or 5 feet in diameter.

When they were logged out, trees with shorter life spans, like birch, took their place. Now, those trees are dying off.

What’s the answer? For now, it’s plant more trees.

“There’s so much destruction,” said Emily Krulc as she and her Minnesota Conservation Corps team planted white pine seedlings on a recent, wet day in Minnesota’s Arrowhead region. “How can we find a balance between our needs, human needs, and also still caring for the lands that essentially [are] going to be what sustains us?”

White gloves hold a tiny pine tree.

A Minnesota Conservation Corps member loosens the dirt from a white pine seedling before planting it in the Moose Creek watershed near Schroeder.
Evan Frost | MPR News

Efforts to restore Minnesota’s iconic forests face numerous obstacles — from invasive species competing for space to deer eating tree seedlings before they get a chance to grow. But they’re crucial to the Arrowhead region’s ability to continue providing environmental and economic benefits for decades to come.

Planting is the painstaking, unheralded work that will give the forests a chance.

‘We have to get out there and make it happen’

Krulc and her team descended on a football field-sized patch of forestland west of Schroeder, Minn., to plant 350 tree seedlings — mostly white pine — one morning last month.

Using planter bars and chainsaws to clear out any undesired growth, they planted a tree every 10 to 12 feet. Figuring out exactly where to plant a tree is something of a guessing game.

“Humans don’t always know where trees want to go,” Krulc said, “so we’re kind of doing our best to guess you know where these white pines might like to grow and getting them in the ground.”

Sometimes it works best to plant a baby tree among fallen branches lying on the ground, she said. Other times, trees just go where the soil is soft enough to get them in the ground.

When the seedlings get a little older, workers plan to install fencing around the tree or attach bud caps, paper stapled over the top of the tree. These measures protect the young trees from hungry deer.

The Conservation Corps crew was working on land owned by the Rajala Woods Foundation, a nonprofit established by the electrical utility Minnesota Power.

A creek and a foggy forest in the background.

Water flows down Moose Creek near Schroeder. Twelve-hundred acres along Moose Creek are owned by the Rajala Woods Foundation.
Evan Frost | MPR News

This 1,200-acre plot sits along Moose Creek, about a 30-minute drive inland from Lake Superior. The landscape is a thick, relatively young forest. Utility towers stand out above the trees, slinging wires above the trees.

“If you look around, you’re challenged to see any white pine or red pine or jack pine,” said Kurt Anderson, the foundation’s chair.

Anderson’s job is to change that. Rajala Woods is in the early stages of a project to plant 3 million white pine and other trees with long lifespans in forests in central and northeastern Minnesota.

A blonde man with a bear and a hat looks right out of frame.

Kurt Anderson of the Rajala Woods Foundation, left, watches a trout feed in Moose Creek.
Evan Frost | MPR News

Its namesake, Jack Rajala, was a white pine advocate who planted some 3 million trees in his own lifetime. He also made his living from the timber industry that was responsible for cutting most of the trees in the first place.

Logging of the huge white pine began in Minnesota in the mid-19th century.

Many white and red pine were harvested and sent to market in the following decades. “At that time the forest supply of these long-lived tree species seemed inexhaustible. And that obviously wasn’t the case,” Anderson said.

Some major wildfires and droughts took a toll on the woods, too.

As the forest grew back, it was different. Birch and other trees with shorter life spans, like aspen and balsam fir, became abundant. Long-lived pines, more scarce.

Anderson said people realized white pine preservation and restoration needed attention as early as the 1920s. But early efforts to restore white pine backfired.

“White pine was brought over to Europe to grow in some nurseries to bring back over here,” Anderson said, “and during that overseas trip, blister rust was introduced to white pine.”

Blister rust, a fungus that can infect and kill white pine, became a veritable enemy. So did a growing population of whitetail deer, which found an ideal habitat in forests that had been cleared out by logging.

Modern forest restorers have learned from past mistakes. In 1997, Rajala published a guidebook for how he believed restoration should happen.

“If we want to bring [the white pine] back, we have to do far more than wait for it to just happen —we have to get out there and make it happen,” Rajala wrote in “Bringing Back the White Pine.”

A car with a canoe on top drives past a tall tree.

A large white pine stands over Highway 61 on the North Shore on June 25.
Evan Frost | MPR News

Today, Anderson said, the short-lived tree species are reaching the end of their lifespan. That explains the declining birch stands along Lake Superior.

As this continues, he said a worst-case scenario means an unrecognizable forest.

“You end up with a scrubland, a brush scrubland that doesn’t provide a lot of ecological benefit. It doesn’t provide a lot of economic benefit,” Anderson said. “There’s not much timber there to harvest, it doesn’t host a lot of wildlife habitat.”

Some scientists have projected a savanna-like habitat in northeast Minnesota’s Arrowhead region.

Jim Manolis, forest conservation program director at The Nature Conservancy, said a “perfect storm of factors” are leading to this dying forest — from bugs to invasive species to hotter temperatures to the deer.

“Forests along the North Shore are dying,” he said. “I think it’s safe to say there’s hundreds of thousands of acres that are in poor condition and need some help.”

While there’s no measurement on exactly how much forest is dying or at risk, Manolis said, the Nature Conservancy is working on a comprehensive map using lidar and other data sources.

Forest advocates say there’s hope for the white pine, but not without a lot of human intervention.

“We have to be a little smarter as a society about trying to think out not just 50 years in advance,” Anderson said, “but maybe 150 years in advance.”

This forward thinking would prime the forest to withstand climate change and economic changes. It’d also make it a continued haven for nature lovers, and the creatures that keep them coming back.

‘You can feel the age of a forest’

A man is seen standing in water through dense brush.
Shawn Perich prepares to fly fish in a creek off of the Gunflint Trail near Grand Marais, Minn. on June 25.
Evan Frost | MPR News

Shawn Perich caught his first brook trout at age 4 and was instantly hooked on fishing.

When he’s fly-fishing, Perich switches off the outside world.

“There’s really nothing else going on for me except being here in the river and feeling the current wrapping around me as I wade in the stream,” he said, “and just being entirely focused on where I’m placing that fly and whether I can get a fish to strike.”

Perich has fished for trout across North America, he said, but he always finds himself drawn back to the North Shore.

He lives with his dog, Rainy, in Hovland, Minn., and works as a publisher of Northern Wilds magazine.

He caught two brook trout in as many casts one recent morning. Then he pulled in several more of the color-spotted golden fish, releasing each back to the stream.

“They’re so pretty, it’s just hard to keep ‘em,” he said after pulling in a fish.

A fish with a hook in its mouth leaps out of the water.

A brook trout leaps out of the water after biting a fly in a creek down the Gunflint Trail near Grand Marais.
Evan Frost | MPR News

A seasoned angler, Perich knows what makes a good home for brook trout.

For one, they need cool water — he said one brook felt like an “ice cube” once out of the stream. And that cool water comes from shade.

Tall, old trees like the white pine can provide shade for these Lake Superior tributaries their entire length through the forest.

Being in a stand of white pine that could be centuries old feels different, Perich said. And indescribable.

“That’s a hard thing to put into words, really,” he said. “But you can feel the age of a forest. When you walk into a standard white pine you can tell you’re in a special place.”

Tiny scissors cut fishing line off of a fly lure.

Perich ties a fly onto his line while fishing.
Evan Frost | MPR News

Perich recognizes the forest will never return to how it was before Europeans arrived. It’s critical that forest restoration efforts continue to look forward, he said.

Even if current restoration projects succeed, the forest won’t be what it used to be. But, planners hope, it’ll be a diverse, healthy forest that’s more resistant to climate change and one that resembles the nature Minnesotans cherish.

“The land was here before us, the land will probably be here after us. And we have to work with nature,” Perich said. “And nature itself really hasn’t changed that much over that period of time.

“And if we can continue to perpetuate what’s here, what’s supposed to be here, I don’t know if there’s anything better we can do.”

 

 

Herbicide applications help reforestation efforts in Remer area

News release comes from the Minnesota DNR: http://news.dnr.state.mn.us/2019/07/16/herbicide-applications-to-help-reforestation-efforts-in-the-remer-area/

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will begin herbicide applications on select state lands to improve reforestation efforts. Applications will begin around August 15 and continue through approximately September 20 on select parcels in the Remer State Forest in the vicinity of the Pine Tree Hunter Walking Trail.

Signs will be posted on all herbicide treatment sites. Adjacent landowners within a quarter mile of the treatment sites have already been notified. Herbicides will not be applied within 100 feet of any waterbody, following DNR herbicide application guidelines.

The DNR plants trees on state lands to reforest harvested areas, provide wildlife habitat, protect watersheds, and maintain healthy forests. Part of the reforestation process involves applying herbicides to the harvested areas prior to or following tree planting.

Herbicides are sprayed on the ground after reforestation to reduce competing woody vegetation.

This gives tree seedlings a better chance to grow and survive. In smaller treatment areas, herbicides are sprayed from the ground.  In large treatment areas, helicopters do aerial spraying using precise GPS-guided mapping. The DNR uses minimal amounts of herbicide only when absolutely necessary. The DNR uses a non-neonicotinoid herbicide that has been proven safe for bees and other pollinators.

This past spring in the DNR’s Deer River work area, the Forestry Division planted more than 14,000 seedlings on 60 acres, and an additional 118 acres were seeded. Statewide, more than 1.9 million seedlings were planted on state forest lands and more than 5,300 acres were seeded this year.

For additional information on sites treated with herbicide in the Deer River work area, contact John Segari at 218-246-8343.

More information about the DNR’s Forestry Division can be found on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/forestry.

DNR seeks input on managing Mille Lacs fishery

Credit to Kirsti Marohn of MPR News for the article: https://www.mprnews.org/story/2019/07/16/dnr-seeks-input-on-mille-lacs-lake-management

Mille Lacs Lake

The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe is using acoustic telemetry technology to study the walleye population on Lake Mille Lacs. Researchers launched the study from Shah-bush-kung Bay in Vineland, Minn., in July 2018.
Paul Middlestaedt for MPR News 2018

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is gathering public input on its first management plan for Lake Mille Lacs.

About two dozen people gathered at Mille Lacs Kathio State Park Tuesday evening to hear about the lake’s changing fish population and share their opinions about how it should be managed.

DNR fisheries chief Tom Heinrich said the agency’s goal is to get input from anglers, business owners and others with an interest in the lake’s fishery. A draft plan is expected to be complete by this fall or winter.

It will be the first such management plan for Mille Lacs, which is co-managed by eight Ojibwe bands that retain fishing rights on the lake. The DNR has completed similar plans for other large Minnesota lakes.

The DNR sets the amount of fish anglers are permitted to harvest each year, using estimates of the number of fish in the lake. In recent years, anglers on Mille Lacs have faced tighter restrictions on when and whether they’re allowed to keep walleye they catch as the DNR has sought to boost the walleye population.

Heinrich said a management plan should help reduce surprise regulations.

“The types of management actions that we’re going to take on the lake are going to be much more predictable than they’ve been in the past,” he said. “Without any really clear guidance, we don’t really know how people want us to manage things.”

Heinrich said there are several factors behind the lake’s changing fishery. Among them is the fact that water clarity on the lake has improved over the past few decades. It began in the 1990s, likely due to sewage treatment improvements.

It happened again after zebra mussels infested the lake in 2005. Increased clarity is a problem for walleye, because the fish prefer low light and cooler water. But zebra mussels are filter feeders: They clear the water and strain out microscopic algae important to the food web.

Beyond walleye, which Mille Lacs has become known for, Heinrich said the lake’s smallmouth bass population has increased, and northern pike also remain plentiful. But yellow perch numbers are very low.

Heinrich said the management plan won’t just focus on the lake’s signature fish.

“We recognize that walleye are the big player on Mille Lacs Lake and probably always will be,” he said. “But this plan is really designed to give us some guidance in how we manage a variety of fish species.”

A similar community meeting was held last week in Brainerd, Minn. The DNR’s third and final meeting will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Indian Mounds Regional Park pavilion in St. Paul.

People who can’t attend one of the meetings can fill out an online questionnaire on the DNR’s website.

 

Zebra mussels confirmed in Hand Lake in Cass County; Upper Cormorant Lake in Becker County

Credit to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for the source: http://news.dnr.state.mn.us/2019/07/11/zebra-mussels-confirmed-in-hand-lake-in-cass-county-upper-cormorant-lake-in-becker-county/

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has confirmed reports of zebra mussels in Hand Lake in Cass County and Upper Cormorant Lake in Becker County. Two smaller lakes and an unnamed wetland connected to Upper Cormorant Lake will also be listed for zebra mussels.b

A Cass County watercraft inspector found a plant with attached zebra mussels on a boat coming from Hand Lake. Divers then found a 1-inch, adult zebra mussel in Hand Lake. The DNR is conducting further analyses to better determine the distribution of zebra mussels in the lake.

DNR divers conducted a search of Upper Cormorant Lake and found seven adult zebra mussels in four locations. Nelson Lake, Middle Cormorant Lake and an unnamed wetland connected to and downstream of Upper Cormorant Lake will also be listed for zebra mussels. The wetland flows into Big Cormorant Lake, where zebra mussels were confirmed in July of 2015.

Whether or not a lake is listed as infested, Minnesota law requires boaters and anglers to:
  • Clean watercraft and trailers of aquatic plants and prohibited invasive species.
  • Drain all water by removing drain plugs and keeping them out during transport.
  • Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash.
Some invasive species are small and difficult to see at the water access. To remove or kill them, take one or more of the following precautions before moving to another waterbody:
  • Spray with high-pressure water.
  • Rinse with very hot water (120 degrees for at least two minutes or 140 degrees for at least 10 seconds).
  • Dry for at least five days.

Zebra mussels can compete with native species for food and habitat, cut the feet of swimmers, reduce the performance of boat motors, and cause expensive damage to water intake pipes.

People should contact an area DNR aquatic invasive species specialist if they think they have found zebra mussels or any other invasive species that has not already been confirmed in a lake.

More information is available at mndnr.gov/ais.

Minnesota Scientific and Natural Areas Program Biodiversity

Credit to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for their report: https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/snap/biodiversity.html

Prairie wildflowers at Mound Prairie SNA with wooded bluffland landscape in the background

Determining the best candidates for Natural Area protection is a complex process. Natural area conservation planning focuses on areas of high biodiversity. We use the following tools, concepts and resources to evaluate and manage sites.

The value of biodiversity (the variety of life and its processes)

Minnesota’s biodiversity has evolved over millennia into complex ecosystems. A myriad of species interact with each other and environmental factors such as soils, topography, hydrology and climate within these ecosystems.

Preserving biodiversity has benefits (ecosystem services) such as:

  • Maintaining healthy, stable plant and animal populations
  • Protecting genetic diversity
  • Protecting water and soil resources
  • Filtering pollution and nutrient recycling
  • Contributing to climate stability and carbon storage
  • Recovering from catastrophic events
  • Providing sources for food, medicine and other products
  • Research, education and monitoring
  • Recreation, tourism and inspiration

In areas where biodiversity is threatened, losing species can affect the ecosystem’s ability to function properly and provide these services. Maintaining biodiversity reduces voids and the entire ecosystem maintains a higher degree of resilience.

Conservation planning for natural areas focuses on areas of high biodiversity as well as habitats for rare species.

Resilience as a strategy

Resilience is the capacity of an ecosystem to cope with disturbance. Resilience is critical to reducing climate change and fragmentation from land development. As climate change affects ecosystems they will face increasing vulnerability. An effective strategy at easing these negative impacts is to build resilience into native communities by:

  • Creating large protected areas and corridors to provide pathways for species to migrate to more suitable habitats
  • Preserving a greater variety of habitats for desirable species

The SNA program is using both strategies for resilience to maintain Minnesota’s biodiversity.

Biodiversity significance rankings

Biodiversity significance is a ranking based on the size and condition of native plant communities and how they fit in an ecological landscape. It also includes the presence or absence of rare species populations. The rankings are ‘outstanding’, ‘high’, ‘moderate’ and ‘below’. Ecologists with the Minnesota Biological Survey determine this status. This ranking is used to help prioritize Natural Area protection efforts.

Minnesota’s Ecological Classification System (ECS)

Ecological landscape classifications are used to identify, describe, and map progressively smaller areas of land with increasingly uniform ecological features. Minnesota’s Ecological Classification System (ECS) uses biotic and environmental factors, including climate, geology, topography, soils, hydrology and vegetation.

The largest units of the ECS are provinces and are defined primarily by climate. Minnesota has four provinces. Provinces are divided into 10 sections based on glacial deposits, topography and plant distributions. The 26 subsections of the ECS are further refined by local vegetation, especially trees, among other factors. Individual Scientific and Natural Areas note the subsection in which they are located. Native plant communities are a finer grading of the classification system.

Minnesota’s Native Plant Communities

Local groupings of trees, shrubs, grasses and forbs that interact with each other and their environment are called native plant communities and are characterized by the kinds and quantities of species they contain. They form recognizable units, such as oak savannas, pine forests, cattail marshes and other communities that tend to repeat over space and time.

Plant communities are subject to change. They form in response to climate and nutrients, as well as catastrophic flooding and fires. In the absence of change, they can be fairly stable over time. However they can also develop into something complete new. For example, a beaver dam can cause significant flooding and as a result, over a period of time, a new community will form in the flooded area. Places where native species have been largely replaced are no longer considered native plant communities.

Native plant communities serve as the basis for evaluating Scientific and Natural Area priorities. The Minnesota Biological Survey has identified, surveyed, and prioritized communities and rare species for research and conservation. Minnesota’s Native Plant Community Classification serves as a standard for ecologists to identify and assess communities. Some individual Scientific and Natural Areas have detail maps showing their native plant communities

Minnesota’s Rare Species

Rare species, are defined under Minnesota law as endangered, threatened, or of special concern. The DNR identifies which species are at greatest risk of disappearance. The law restricts harming those species that are designated as endangered or threatened. Natural Areas protect critical habitat for these rare species.

Adventure & Relax on a Minnesota Camping Trip

Credit to Erica Wachker of ExploreMinnesota.com: https://www.exploreminnesota.com/travel-ideas/reconnect-on-a-camping-trip/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery

Camping with dogs in Superior National ForestCamping in the Superior National Forest / Alyssa Hei

Relaxation, adventure, escape, and quality time with family and friends are among the many reasons why camping is a beloved Minnesota pastime. Whether you’re ready to take on the Boundary Waters or prefer the comforts of an RV, a Minnesota camping trip will surely be one to remember.

BOUNDARY WATERS & BACKPACKING

View from a boundary waters bluff

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness / Gary Hamer

 

Camping in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is a badge of honor. There are no roads, buildings, motorboats, and definitely no cell phone service. The only mode of transportation is via canoe, with more than 1,500 miles of waterways to explore. When it’s time to set up camp, simply paddle to an open campsite and pitch your tent. Every campsite is private, so you’ll have a little piece of the wilderness all to yourselves.

Adjacent to the Boundary Waters, the Superior National Forest has a wide range of camping options, from primitive “dispersed camping” sites up to drive-in sites complete with bathhouses and electric hookups. Also in this picturesque part of the state, the Superior Hiking Trail covers nearly 300 miles of rugged terrain above the North Shore of Lake Superior, with more than 90 campsites along the way.

Lake Maria State Park camping backpacking

Backpacking at Lake Maria State Park

Another backpacking hot spot is Crosby Manitou State Park on the North Shore near Silver Bay, where challenging trails are flanked with spectacular views of waterfalls and forests. The secluded campsites are for backpackers only (though you may have to share them with moose, deer and other wildlife).

Similar camping experiences can be found in the northwest part of the state, in the Chippewa National Forest and along the North Country National Scenic Trail, which travels 800 miles across the northern half of Minnesota with multiple segments that stretch from the North Dakota border all the way to the Superior Hiking Trail.

Backpacking opportunities even exist near the Minneapolis-St. Paul area at AftonLake Maria and St. Croix state parks. Several state parks also have “walk-in” (less than half a mile) sites, with carts available to haul your gear in some cases.

CAMPGROUNDS & RV PARKS

Airstream Mille Lacs Mali Mish

Airstream at Mille Lacs Kathio State Park / Mali Mish Family

If you’re looking for a more laid back and family-friendly camping experience, Minnesota has about 500 privately operated campgrounds, most of which are on a lake or river, with sites for RVs as well as tents. Many are at resorts that also rent cabins and other indoor lodging.

These campgrounds usually feature an array of amenities, such as pools, playgrounds, game rooms, entertainment, boat rentals, Wi-Fi, and on-site laundry, groceries and restaurants. Many offer family-friendly activities like bonfires and other fun that make them a great choice for groups of all ages.

Many of Minnesota’s most scenic spots have been preserved as state parks, and most of the 75 parks and recreation areas have campgrounds with tent and RV sites. The settings range from forest to prairie; scenic hiking trails and access to a lake or river are among the highlights at these popular parks.

Camper cabin at Afton State Park

Camper cabin at Afton State Park / Kirsten Alana

Several state parks and some private campgrounds also rent camper cabins, an appealing alternative for those who don’t want to sleep in a tent. The majority have electricity and heat and can sleep up to six people. But without their own restrooms or running water, you can still say that you’re roughing it.

City and county campgrounds are another good option; in-town campgrounds are usually near shops, restaurants and attractions. If you don’t have your own camping equipment, various outfitters offer rentals of everything from tents and pop-up campers to top-of-the-line motorhomes complete with kitchens and master suites.

Five Ways to Enjoy Minnesota’s 10,000 Lakes

Credit to Explore Minnesota: https://www.exploreminnesota.com/travel-ideas/five-ways-to-enjoy-minnesotas-10000-lakes/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery

When you visit a place that’s nicknamed “Land of 10,000 Lakes” (make that 11,842, to be precise), it’s pretty much required that you explore one or two of them while you’re here. In fact, many would argue you haven’t had the full Minnesota experience until you’ve gone to the lake. After all, they’re not hard to find!

As you plan your Minnesota getaway, be sure to carve out some time at a lake—whether it’s a side trip for an afternoon or the focus of your whole vacation. Here are five great ways to do so.

1. PLAY AT THE BEACH

waconia7808-Lake-Waconia-beach-scenes-600x400.jpg

Sunbathing on Lake Waconia

It’s the classic way to spend a summer day. Spread out a towel, pull out a good book, make a sandcastle with the kids, and cool off with a dip in the lake. It’s easy to include a beach day (or several!) on a Minnesota getaway. Many cities have great beaches right in town, including Big Lake, Detroit LakesFairmontSpicer and Waconia. For a refreshing dip in our biggest lake, Superior, head to Park Point Beach in Duluth. You can even beach it at lakes Maka Ska and Harriet right in the heart of Minneapolis, and several other Twin Cities-area lakes.

Numerous state parks have terrific sand beaches, including Father Hennepin on Mille Lacs Lake, Zippel Bay on Lake of the Woods, McCarthy BeachLake BemidjiMaplewood and Lake Shetek. Most of Minnesota’s resorts and campgrounds are located along lakeshores, so look for one with a swimming beach.

2. PADDLE AWAY

A woman canoeing in the Boundary Waters

Kayaking in the Boundary Waters / Jillian DeChaine

Canoeing, kayaking and paddleboarding are all great ways to explore our lakes. Many state and local parks offer canoe and kayak rentals for easy lake paddling. In Minneapolis, you can rent a canoe at Bde Maka Ska and paddle through a chain of lakes via connecting canals. For more experienced paddlers, the ultimate adventure is a camping trip in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness; several outfitters provide equipment, provisions and tips.

Paddleboards are the newest wave of fun on the lake. Stand-up paddleboards (SUPs) are available for rent at several state parks, Minneapolis city lakes and at Bryant Lake, Fish Lake and Baker regional parks in the Minneapolis area. In the Brainerd Lakes area, MN Surf Company offers rentals and lessons.

3. GO FISH

A favorite Minnesota pastime, fishing is favored by some simply as an excuse to get out on a lake and relax. If you don’t have your own boat, many resorts offer rentals. And even better, they can hook you up with a fishing guide who can show you the ins and outs of area lakes. Fishing charters can take you out on the big waters of Lake Superior and Lake of the Woods, and fishing launches go out on larger lakes like Mille Lacs. What’s out there? Minnesota lakes serve up a variety of species: walleye, northerns, bass, muskie, various panfish and more.

4. TAKE A CRUISE

Taylors Falls Scenic Boat Tour

Taylors Falls Scenic Boat Tour on the St. Croix River / Lucy Hawthorne Photography

An easy and fun way to get out on a lake is to climb aboard a tour boat. In the north woods, a narrated boat trip in Itasca State Park explores the lake where the Mississippi River begins as a small stream, and tour boats explore the wilderness lakes of Voyageurs National Park. Elsewhere in the state, Gull Lake Cruises offers cruises with meals on the popular Gull Lake near Brainerd. Vista Fleet tours feature views of Duluth from the city’s harbor and Lake Superior.

Lake Minnetonka, a vast, meandering lake to the west of Minneapolis, has several tour boats: Lady of the Lakepaddlewheeler, Queen of Excelsior, and even the restored 1906 Steamboat Minnehaha. In southeast Minnesota, the Pelican Breeze plies the waters of Albert Lea Lake, and Pearl of the Lake heads onto Lake Pepin, a widening of the Mississippi River in a scenic valley of wooded bluffs.

5. SPEND THE NIGHT

Family on dock at resort in Grand Rapids

Resort stays make lake life a breeze

It can be hard to tear yourself away from the lake at the end of the day … so don’t! Find your own place at the lake for a few days, or even weeks. Reserve your stay at a lakeside resort, lodge or campground to really experience lakeside living. Watch the sun set amid vivid pinks and purples. Listen for the distinctive call of loons across the water.

After nightfall, roast marshmallows at a campfire, be amazed by zillions of stars twinkling above, see the moon rise above the lake and, if you’re lucky, catch the northern lightsdancing in the sky. It’s the perfect end to a relaxing day at the lake, with the promise of another to come.