Again this year, state parks open for free

Published 9:27 pm Wednesday, November 22, 2017

By Laura Yuen, Minnesota Public Radio News

Visitors once again can burn off some of their turkey dinners by visiting Minnesota’s state parks Friday for free.

It’s the third year the Department of Natural Resources has offered “Free Park Friday,” waiving the regular one-day vehicle permit fee of $7 at all 75 state parks.

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And while they’re out there, visitors can take part in specific excursions led by DNR naturalists at select parks.

For example, visitors can learn how to start a “primitive” fire — without the use of a lighter or matches — at Tettegouche State Park along the North Shore.

“I think it’s just taking people back to their roots,” said Pat Arndt, the DNR’s state parks and trails communications and outreach manager. “If you were to find yourself without the conveniences we’re used to having, you would be able to survive.”

And at the Blue Mounds State Park in southwestern Minnesota, families can take a guided one-mile hike in search of wild turkeys.

But if there’s no turkey in sight, is it a bust?

“We can never guarantee you’re going to see an animal,” Arndt said. “But for sure, the naturalist will help people discover signs of turkey, so you’ll know that they’ve been there.”

The parks will be minimally staffed, she added, because most employees will be spending the day after Thanksgiving with their families.