Tettegouche State Park: A North Shore Must

Tettegouche is the park to visit along the North Shore. If you have to choose just one park to visit in northern Minnesota, this would be it. It has it all! Overlooks, waterfalls, rugged trails, shorelines and rivers. This park is hard to beat.

Tettegouche is the park to visit along the North Shore. If you have to choose just one park to visit in northern Minnesota, this would be it. It has it all! Overlooks, waterfalls, rugged trails, shorelines and rivers. This park is hard to beat.

Quick Review: 11/10 Tettegouche receives a perfect score plus one for it’s amazing views, splendid waterfalls, well maintained trails, and great shoreline adventure. The bonus point is awarded for saving our skins on an accidental trip to the park on a failed BWCA trip.

Hiking Trails

The hiking trails in total at Tettegouche spans 23 miles. The trails in Tettegouche are all rated as moderate to difficult, and with the inclines and rocky terrain, I can’t disagree. Be sure to bring plenty of water along and a map. The trails are well marked, but it is nice to have map along that indicates any turnoffs for a shorter route back if any in your party tire quickly.

We had a great time watching our 6 year old daughter tackle these trails. She did great and lead the way on many of them. There was a point when she needed to go potty and we were about a half mile out from the trailhead. We ran the remainder of the trail, I was amazed at her speed and agility on this rugged northern trail. In hindsight, I don’t know why I didn’t just take the opportunity to teach her how to pee in the woods. A lesson for another time I guess.


Tettegouche is home to 4 waterfalls and each one is a beauty! The falls are all along the Baptism River. Two can be hiked together, the remaining two require a drive to a separate parking area.

Illgen Falls: Illgen Falls is located near the Illgen Falls Cabin. This cabin is available for rent year-round and can hold up to 6 people. Visitors are responsible for cleaning up after their stay. The falls is just a short hike away from the cabin and is the farthest from Lake Superior in Tettegouche.

High & Two Step Falls: High Falls is a staggering 60 foot waterfall that earns it’s name with that big drop. These falls can be accessed by following the hiking trail along the Baptism River from the Baptism River campground. The trail will merge with the Superior Hiking Trail, take a right, then there is a swinging bridge to cross the river at the falls. Enjoy this view before continuing on the trail, keeping right at the fork will bring you to a staircase that descends to the Two Step Falls. Simply retrace your steps back the parking area when done admiring the falls.

The hiking distance in total is just under two miles. The terrain would be considered difficult with steep steps.

Cascade Falls: Cascade Falls is the closest falls to Lake Superior in Tettegouche. This falls in not on the same trail as the High and Two-Step Falls. Cascade has it’s own Cascade Falls Trail to follow. The parking area for this falls is passed the visitors center on the south side of the river.

This moderate trail is about a mile and a half long. It is an out and back, no loop here.

Twisty Trees

A truly unique find in the Northern Minnesota state parks, is the twisted trees. They are a whimsical anomaly caused by the hammering winds, gradually twisting the tree as it grows. These trees are a wonder to behold and add a great sense of mystery to the hikes on the edge of Lake Superior. And check out those wicked root systems! These trees have to be so resilient to grow on the rocky terrain.


There are numerous camping opportunities at Tettegouche. While the backpack sites are on a first come, first served basis, the other camping options are reservable. These other options include drive-in sites for RV’s and tent sites that are walk-in or cart-in. Two cabin’s are also available for lodging. This is quite a popular park, so booking your reservation early is a really the only way to secure your stay. We got extremely lucky when we camped here on a failed BWCA trip. For the full catastrophe follow here.

Superior Shores- Rock Skipping

Steep cliffs, river tributaries and a rocky beach are all along the shores of Lake Superior at this park. We enjoyed the hikes, falls, and views, but the most fun we had was on the rocky beach at the inlet of the Baptism River. The rocks were perfect for skipping, we skipped so many rocks on this beach, it was a blast.

Overlooks Galore

Overlook, after overlook, after overlook. The surplus of overlooks at this park is astounding. Even on a foggy day, the overlooks are gorgeous. The fog adds a bit of eerie mystery to this park. Watch your step and be aware of the ledge. There are many areas that have have a significant drop with no guard rails. It’s fantastic to have unobstructed, rugged beauty, but keep the kids in-hand.

Shovel Point: Be sure to check out shovel point, just a half mile or so of a hike from the visitor’s center. This is such an amazing view and getting there is unique too. This is an area where you’ll see a lot of those twisting trees and unique root systems mentioned earlier.

Hazard Warning: The boardwalk areas can be slippery when wet, be sure to wear appropriate footwear with a lot of grip. Not kidding about those drops. Keep those kiddos in hand or very close.

Tettegouche will be getting a repeat visit from us, but the next visit won’t be an accident! Add this park to your to-do list this summer. You won’t regret it!

BWCA Bootleg Lake- A Slice of Solitude Among Popular Lakes

With it’s growing popularity, it’s hard to find solitude in the BWCA. Bootleg Lake is the key to finding that peace. A waterfall, great fishing, and minimal traffic, it doesn’t get much better than this for solitude in Minnesota’s BWCA.

The year I graduated high school was the summer we ventured into Bootleg Lake for 4th of July weekend. I’ll take fireflies over fireworks any day! My favorite attribute about this area is the journey in. Little Indian Sioux River is absolutely beautiful.

Ranger Station

This entry point is technically in the LaCroix Ranger district. That does not mean that you necessarily have to use that ranger station. We used the Kawishiwi Ranger Station in Ely instead. Ely is 32 miles from Entry Point 9 while Cook, MN is 53 miles from the entry point. There is also ample lodging in Ely for your night prior to entry.

Book your BWCA reservation in January to ensure that you get your preffered destination. Reservations can be made at Recreation.gov. Check out why you need to make your reservation in January here. Also, if you intend to stay at a hotel the night prior to your entry, book that immediately after your entry reservation is confirmed.

LaCroix Ranger Station:
Address:320 N. Hwy 53, Cook, MN 55723
Hours:May 1st- Sept. 30th Mon-Sat 8am-4:30pm
Oct. 1st- Apr. 30th Mon-Fri 8am-4:30pm
Phone: 218-666-0020
Kawishiwi Ranger Station:
Address:1393 Hwy 169, Ely, MN 55731
Hours:May 1st -Sept. 30th: Sun-Sat 8am-4:30pm
Oct. 1st- Apr. 30th: Mon-Fri 8am-4:30pm
Phone: 218-365-7600

Entry Point

Entry Point #9
Permits Issued Daily1 permit every other day
Permit TypeOvernight Paddle
Ranger Station LaCroix/Kawishiwi

Getting to the Entry Point

After your wonderful little video and quiz at the Kawishiwi Ranger Station in Ely, you’re set to hit the road. Take 169 N for a short quarter mile, then turn left onto MacMahan Blvd. Two miles down the road you take a right onto the Echo Trail. 30 miles on The Echo Trail will take you almost the whole way there. Watch for signs for Entry Point 9.

Little Indian Sioux (South)

Little Indian Sioux is a wonderfully winding river. Rivers are my favorite place to canoe, the water is alive and full of character. We did an out and back, a destination trip rather than a route. On our paddle in, we paddled against the current, that means the trip out will be with the current. The perfect situation for a relaxing exit trip.


Sioux Falls is the first portage paddlers encounter along the river. What a beauty she is! A small falls with a short steep 13 rod portage to the west side. It’s easy to take time here and appreciate the beauty of this falls. This area does not see much traffic compared to other areas of the BWCA, so you likely won’t have others waiting to use the portage.

Second Portage and River split

Beyond the waterfall a ways, on the east side of the river is the second portage, 85 rods. This is the longest portage of the journey to Bootleg. There will be a split in the river a short distance after the portage, for either the Little Pony River or continuing on the Little Indian Sioux. Take the eastern river, the Little Pony River, this is the most direct route to Bootleg Lake. Bootleg is a part of the Little Pony River.

Final Two Portages

Two more portages must be crossed on the Little Pony River. The first on the Pony is a short 16 rod portage avoiding a small rapids. The final portage, 48 rods, leads to Bootleg.

On our trek out there was so much recent rain that one of the portages flooded. We slogged through the first portage with knee high water. We could have canoed the portage! We did paddle through rapids rather than take the 16 rod portage. Pictured below features my uncle and brother, Derek, traversing the flooded path. Next is my mom and Derek triumphant in our rapid run!

**Note that I am not wearing a life jacket at the beginning of this run. That was dumb. Always wear a life jacket in a canoe, especially when running rapids. In my stupid defense, my adventure dog, Misty, was using my life jacket as a sturdy place to stand on and hide from the sun.


There are only two campsites on Bootleg Lake. The first site is at the northern end of the lake right as you enter the lake from the Little Pony River. This site has a sandy beach landing with an open tent pad. The second is on the south western side of the lake. This is the site that we camped on for our 4th of July weekend.

Being that our site was on the west side of the lake, the sunset magic was reflected on the clouds to east. A quick paddle out on the lake will get you a sunset sight you’ll never forget. The sunrises from this sight were absolutely phenomenal, early risers rejoice! The most serene part of the day with waters like glass. Enjoy a morning coffee with a scene so many travel hundreds of miles see.


Being a less traveled lake, these waters are not heavily fished. We had exquisite fishing weather conditions and nailed the fish left and right. The most caught fish of the trip was the smallmouth bass. We slayed them! It was one of the best fishing trips I’ve had in the BWCA.

Our campsite was a great fishing location as well. So many bass were landed right from the rock at the shore of our campsite. Of course, Misty had to inspect each fish.

Solitude on the Lake

Two portages and a river away lies the Trout Lake area. The entirety of this lake holds 30+ campsites. Solitude will not be found on Trout. Trout Lake allows 12 permits per day. It’s astounding to think that not far away, Little Sioux River South only allows one entry every other day. That’s such a drastic difference in permits, but it causes a drastically different experience.

If seeking solitude on a BWCA journey, which many are, this is the lake to voyage to. Just two campsites rest upon this lake at different shorelines. The lake is not large, but there is ample space between sites and no extra traffic as it’s out of the way of other routes. Bootleg is the only BWCA trip that I have been on that I did not encounter another paddler.

Day Trips

We didn’t take any day trips on this voyage, we were quite content with all that Bootleg had to offer and spent most of the trip fishing this untouched lake. Our camping party treated Bootleg as a destination lake, that doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities for venturing farther.

A day trip can be made to Little Trout Lake via two 200+ rod portages and the Little Indian Sioux River. The portage to begin this journey lies at the southwestern side of the lake, at the “Toe” of the boot on Bootleg. The first portage is 204 rods. Next, is a paddle against the current along the squiggly Little Indian Sioux and finally finished with a 290 rod portage on the west side of the river. There is also an option to continue on to Cummings lake, this is quite a trek for a day trip.

Returning to Bootleg

While South Temperance is my dad’s favorite lake in the BWCA, he has been dreaming of a return trip to Bootleg Lake for years. The combination of solitude and fantastic fishing on this gorgeous lake make it hard to beat.

My apprehension to return to this lake was based on the length of the river paddle, being that our son is just 3 years old. Then I thought to myself, “He handled Hog Creek to Perent Lake like a champ.” Our little adventurer can handle it. Our trips for this year are already mapped out. Next year will be our year for a return to Bootleg.

Fire Towers and Overlooks to Explore in Minnesota this Summer

Elevate your summer bucket list with these amazing overlooks and fire towers to see in Minnesota.

Check out Minnesota’s high points this summer with these fire towers and overlooks. It’s one thing to see images from a drone, it’s a whole different animal to experience the heights and views for yourself.

Fire/observation Towers

Get staggering views from atop these tall towers. The climb up steep steps will be well worth it. These towers are only open during the summer months as they are too dangerous to climb in the icy Minnesota winters.

Itasca State Park

Park Location: 36750 Main Park Drive
Park Rapids, MN 56470

Fees: $7 Day pass or $35 yearly State Parks Pass (totally worth it)

Tower Location: The tower is located off a trail near the end of the one-way scenic drive. There is a parking area on the south side of the road, the trail that leads to the fire tower is called Aiton Heights Trail. You can also access this trail from the Hiking Club (Ozawindib) Trail.

The tower at Itasca is the most sturdy tower we have climbed in MN, with the least steep steps. If you have a fear of heights, this is a safe tower to climb. While it is quite high, there is less sway with the wind.

At the top of the tower, photos are present to show it’s conquerors the areas around the park. Be sure to take a moment at the top to look through the canopy for wildlife.

St. Croix State Park

Park Location: 30065 St. Croix Park Road
Hinckley, MN 55037

Fees: $7 Day pass or $35 yearly State Parks Pass (totally worth it)

Tower Location: The tower is accessed by following the right most road after entering the park, keep right after picking up a map from the park office. Watch for signs for the Observation Tower, there are numerous parking areas along the way. The parking area for the observation tower is very close to the base of the tower.

Tip: Watch for wildlife along the way, we saw a medium sized black bear strolling down the road!

The distance that is visible from this tower is astounding. This tower takes you high above the tree tops, you feel as though you can see Tobies cinnamon rolls in the oven back in Hinckley. You will work up an appetite with this climb!

Mille Lacs Kathio State Park

Park Location: 15066 Kathio State Park Road
Onamia, MN 56359

Fees: $7 Day pass or $35 yearly State Parks Pass (totally worth it)

Tower Location: After entering the park, take the first left. This leads to a trail center and parking area. The tower can be accessed from the hiking trail loop that begins at the southeast side of the parking area. Keep left at splits in the trail. After the tower, complete the loop by taking the trail back to the road that leads to the parking area.

Lake Mille Lacs can be viewed from the top of this observation tower. It’s a great way to get a different perspective on a park that you’ll be hiking. We hit this feature first at the park, to gain an idea of the area we’d be exploring. Mille Lacs Kathio is a fantastic park in the Mille Lacs area.

Fire Tower Safety

I’ll be quick here. Please follow the rules posted at the base of each tower. They are pretty simple rules and are in place to keep visitors safe. Take these safety rules and guidelines into consideration before climbing.

  • Towers must not exceed 6 people at a time.
  • Do not climb in poor weather conditions (wind, rain, storms, etc.)
  • Supervise children (we had our little guy snuggly strapped into his hiking carrier and secured to me)
  • Hold the railing, do not climb if you get dizzy or light headed.
  • Do not drop stuff from the top of the tower (duh).


Sibley State Park- Mount Tom

Park Location: 800 Sibley Park Road Northeast
New London, MN 56273

Fees: $7 Day pass or $35 yearly State Parks Pass (totally worth it)

Overlook Location: From the Visitor’s Center head right and then take a left at the split. There will be signs for Mount Tom. The overlook can also be accessed by way of the Hiking Club trail, this trail has numerous starting points and is the 3.3 mile Mount Tom Loop.

Hike Mount Tom to see the far and wide expanse of farm land, lakes, nearby towns and wooded areas. Sibley State Park‘s Mount Tom is not as intimidating as the Observation/Fire towers of the other parks, but it still offers an amazing experience. For a serious fear of heights, this is a great baby step.

Bonus: There is another amazing overlook on the trail leading north of the Mount Tom parking area and a “Little Mount Tom” to the south.

Interstate State Park- St. Croix River Views

Park Location: 307 Milltown Road
Taylors Falls, MN 55084

Fees: $7 Day pass or $35 yearly State Parks Pass (totally worth it)

Overlook Location: This park has two main parking areas. The North Unit holds the main attraction and is a short jaunt from your vehicle. The South Unit has access to the Curtain Falls Hike.

The views over the St. Croix River are astounding and you can wave to our state neighbors from Wisconsin across the river. Take time to check out the potholes and explore this one of a kind terrain.

Warning: Watch the edge of the cliffs and keep small children in hand. There have been several park visitors that have fallen into the river from the overlooks.

Tettegouche- Shovel Point

Park Location: 5702 Highway 61
Silver Bay, MN 55614

Fees: $7 Day pass or $35 yearly State Parks Pass (totally worth it)

Overlook Location: You can’t hike in this park without running into an overlook. It’s cliff and waterfall galore! For overlooks of Lake Superior, check out Shovel Point just north of the visitor’s center. It’s also great for a quick stop on your way to more northern destinations.

Check out our mishap excursion to Tettegouche and how this park saved a weekend adventure.

Warning: Keep young children in hand and watch your footing, especially on damp/wet days. Much of the overlook areas do not have guard rails, which is great because it doesn’t impede on the splendor of the view.

Cascade State Park- Lookout Mountain

Park Location: 3481 West Highway 61
Lutsen, MN 55612

Fees: $7 Day pass or $35 yearly State Parks Pass (totally worth it)

Overlook Location: From the Visitor’s Center, head out on the Hiking Club Trail. There are several trails leaving the Visitor’s Center, so follow signage closely. Cross the bridge at The Cascades and follow the Superior Hiking Trail. You’ll come to a T in the trail after about half a mile, take a left and follow the Superior Hiking Trail until you see signs for Lookout Mountain, it will be to the right of the trail.

We had a great experience at Cascade River State Park and we learned a thing or two. Check out Mistakes and Lessons at Cascade River State Park.

BWCA- Eagle Mountain

Parking Location: Follow MN-61 to Lutsen, MN. Turn left onto Caribou Trail, after 17 miles you’ll go right onto The Grade for 4 miles. On the left you’ll find a decent gravel parking area with an obvious trial head.

Fees: Free Self-Issue Permit, all hikers in the BWCA require a permit. You can acquire one at the Gunflint Ranger Station (2020 W. Hwy 61, Grand Marais, MN) or the trail head.

Overlook Location: Eagle Mountain is a very straight forward hike with well packed trail. The trail will split near the peak, take a left at the Y to climb Eagle Mountain. The total distance out and back is 7 miles.

Of course Minnesota’s highest natural point must be on this list! Standing at a whopping 2301 feet above sea level, she’s a beauty to behold. Hiking this “mountain” should be on every Minnesotan’s bucket list. We had an amazing adventure in the BWCA, for more details check out Hiking Eagle Mountain.

Hiking Tip: We encountered many folks without any gear, not even water. This is a day hike for most hikers entering the area, but this is still the BWCA wilderness and basic supplies should be present. Be sure to bring plenty of water (do NOT drink from the lakes), small first aid, and perhaps some snacks.

Spring Hike to Curtain Falls, Interstate State Park

Sandstone cliffs, high bluffs, scenic overlooks, flowing streams, and of course, a spouting waterfall. Curtain Falls is an invigorating hike, perfect for kicking off the warm weather hiking season. A must for springtime hiking!

Sandstone cliffs, high bluffs, scenic overlooks, flowing streams, and of course, a spouting waterfall. Curtain Falls is an invigorating hike, perfect for kicking off the warm weather hiking season. A must for springtime hiking!

With these intense, warm spring days we’ve had this week the kids and I hit the trail! Curtain Falls has been on my mind for a while now and I knew that we needed to hit this one in the spring for optimal falls action. The warm weather gave us the perfect opportunity for a revisit to Interstate State Park.

Curtain Falls

Distance: 1 mile

Level: Moderate to Strenuous

Best Time: Spring is best with the snowmelt feeding the falls and streams. After a heavy rainstorm. I suspect this hike would be quite dangerous if attempted in the winter months.

Dog Friendly: Yes, athletic dogs only. Keep dogs on leash.

Curtain falls is about the halfway point on the Sandstone Bluffs Trail. I would consider this trail a moderate to strenuous trail. There are steep tilted steps, rock step climbs, narrow cliff edge trails and steep drops. All of those attributes makes for some pretty amazing views.

Sandstone Bluffs Trail Head

Plant your vehicle at the southern parking are near the campground and park office. The trail starts right at the park office. Grab yourself a map and head northwest from the south side of the office, follow the creek upstream.

Under the Road

This was so neat! Right off the bat, the trail leads under the road. There is a concrete path leading under the highway with a divot in the concrete to allow for water to continue flowing. Be careful in early spring, there may still be some ice pack on the path with the limited sunshine. We also experienced some downed trees and debris, but that didn’t hinder our progress.

Never Ending Stairway

Once on the other side of the road, there is a very intimidating stairway leading up the bluffs and an inviting path leading north. Take the stairs.

It’s much easier to ascend these monstrously narrow steps than it is to descend. Stay on the trail to avoid any damaging of the hillside. The park has even placed a nice little sign at the beginning of the steps.

Narrow Ledges

The sandstone cliffs are a marvel, but the trail gets fairly narrow in spots along the cliffs. Keep small children in hand, a tumble down the hillside would be disastrous. The trail along the cliffs are a mixture of dirt path, boardwalk and stairs.

Early in the season, there is much trail maintenance needed. In time these things will be cleaned up and restored. If you’re heading out for a spring hike, use caution. There are downed trees and one particular tree that has uprooted and taken part of a boardwalk with it. We were able to concur the obstacles, you will to!

Curtain Falls

A ‘Y’ in the trail will give the option of steep stone steps or a boardwalk. The boardwalk is what leads to the falls. After viewing the falls, you’ll backtrack and take the steps to continue the rest of the loop.

The reward for the most difficult stretch of the trail is the refreshing view of Curtain Falls. A sputter of falls spewing over the cliff of sandstone from what seems like an unknown source. If ever a falls were to be dubbed “cute” this would be it. It’s not a rushing river or a cascading masterpiece, but a cute, petite, sputter of a falls. A falls worth seeing for sure, but don’t expect anything of majesty. The boardwalk near the falls stretches over the cliff near the falls giving viewers a closer look.


Only a short ways left up hill, over half of this trail is uphill. These uphill strides bring hikers to a grand view of the St. Croix River. There are benches along the way for a break and a snack.

Coming Down

The descent from the bluffs is quite mild, a gradual slope zigzagging down the hill. There are a few bridges and little falls along the stream when the water is flowing. The path winds with the stream, it’s a very peaceful stroll after the quick aggressive ascent to the falls.

Railroad trail

The loop meets up with the Railroad Trail. The options here are to go up the stairs or cross the bridge. Taking the stair will follow the Railroad Trail for an additional mile and a half of out and back of hiking trail. Crossing the bridge will lead south on the Railroad Trail to complete the loop bringing you back to the trail under the road.

Happy hiking!!

Outdoor Spring Bucket List Ideas for Minnesota

Spring is full of life and splendor, get out there and watch the world come alive! Add a few of these activities to your spring bucket list and get a jump start on your adventuring this season.

Spring has arrived and it’s time to enjoy all it has in store for us. Aside from it being a muddy, slippery, and sloppy mess; Minnesota is beautiful in the spring. Or maybe it’s because we’ve had one really long winter month after month. Either way, we’re happy to see it, here are some ideas to get you out enjoying the gorgeous weather this spring.

Waterfalls of the North Shore

When the snow begins to melt in northern Minnesota it has but one place to go; Lake Superior. The many rivers leading to the giant lake will be rushing with their newfound water source in the melting snow. It’s the perfect time to catch a glimpse of just how powerful these waters can be.

**Warning: The currents in these rivers are particularly strong in the spring. Be especially careful to keep children in hand near the rivers edge. The water flows fast, and can be quite dangerous for youngsters.

State Park Waterfall Ideas:

Garden Center Visit

Find inspiration for your own outdoor space at your local garden center. Improving your own outdoor space helps to keep the great outdoors close to home. Find a new tree to plant, some ferns to add to your outdoor collection, or some flowers to add a splash of color. This is great fun for the kids too, my daughter likes to find the flowers that have fallen off of their plant to make a bouquet while we peruse the selections.

River Hikes

With winter fading away, the ice gives way to open water. This draws in ducks and geese making their way back to the Northland. A hike along a rivers edge shows evidence of summer’s return, even in these lengthy winters. While ice out may be a longer ways off, rivers shine early. Bring your binoculars and camera to capture some great moments on the water.

Landscape Arboretum

Don’t miss peak tulip bloom at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. My grandma grew up on a property just outside of what is now the MN Landscape Arboretum. We get our very own tour guide when she’s along, it’s truly wonderful. The tulip bloom varies from year to year so check in on their webpage for the most updated information. Over 40,000 tulip bulbs are planted by the folks at the arboretum. It’s a great opportunity for photographers to get clients in a beautiful spring setting.

Maple Syrup

March is Maple Tapping season. The Minnesota State Parks Service hosts classes and demonstrations for this event. Check the events calendar on the DNR website for the schedule and sign up early, they fill up fast.

Have an abundance of maple trees? You can find tapping kits online and make your own syrup!

Full “Pink” Moon Hike

Aprils full moon is called the “Pink Moon.” This name is from the the pink ground phlox that grows in in April. The MN Landscape Arboretum hosts an event in honor of this full moon. The Pink Moon Hike begins at 7:30pm and ends at 10pm. Check out the MN Landscape Arboretum for more details.

Bike Rides

In late spring, when the snow is finally fading away, it’s time to dust off the bikes and hit the trails. Minnesota has amazing trails and traveling by bike will get you seeing more spring action. Here are some great paved trails to witness the state in bloom.

  • Heartland State Trail (Park Rapids Area)
  • Willard Munger State Trail (Dulut)
  • Gateway State Trail (St. Paul)
  • Brown’s Creek State Trail (Stillwater)
  • Blazing Star State Trail (Albert Lea)

Minnesota Zoo Visit

Many of the smaller zoos in Minnesota close for the colder months of the year, the Minnesota Zoo stays open all year round. There are some new arrivals to visit in the spring that are great entertainment for all, especially the kids. Checkout the baby chick, piglets and numerous other babies arriving in springtime at the zoo.

Bear Center Visit

Head up to Ely to say, “Good morning,” to the bears. The Bear Center closes for the winter season to let the bears sleep and reopens at the end of April. We visited the bear center mid-May last spring to greet the bears with my daughter’s girl scout troop. This was such a unique experience and very informative. We even had a minor bear encounter that weekend, it was a great learning experience for the ladies and a perfect way to kickoff camping season. Bear Head Lake State Park is a perfect place to make a weekend trip out of it.

Lake Maria State Park

Lake Maria State Park is perfect a weekend getaway or a quick day trip. Check out all this park has to offer for hiking, canoeing, and sight seeing.

Perched just an hour northwest of the metro area sits a little park packed full of outdoorsy splendor. Lake Maria State Park is great for a quick getaway or a day hike. It’s impressive how much has been packed into this little slice of woods.

Quick Review: 7/10 This quiet park has much to offer for it’s size. If you’re lucky, you might spot the albino deer! The hiking trails are numerous and the lake is dazzling.


Lake Maria State Park has many ponds and small bodies of water scattered thoughout it. The largest lake in the park is named Little Mary Lake. There is a drive in access for either boat or canoe. There is a 20 horsepower limit for motors on this lake.

Canoes are welcome on Little Mary Lake and Maria Lake. Maria Lake is accessable by hiking trail only. Nestled into different sides of the lake are two hike-in campsites.

Hiking Trails

Zumbrunnen Trail: The cutest little trail in the park is a short interpretive trail to the left of the lake access on Little Mary Lake. A whopping one mile needle trail with signs informing hikers of the wildlife in the park. The short boardwalk leads over a marsh area along Little Mary Lake into a chunk of woods and back around to the boardwalk again. This a great trail for short legs or a short amount of time to visit the park.

Anderson Hill Loop: This 3 mile loop offers a wonderful overlook of the area around the park. A pleasant spot during autumn that gives a look over the top of the trees and travels down into the old growth forest where leaves slowly drift down to the forest floor. Squirrels are abundant in this area of the park with all of the nuts around from these mature trees.

There are numerous other trails throughout the park, many of them connecting to another. This is great opportunity to hike as many or as few miles as you please with a variety of scenery.


A large variety of animals call Lake Maria State Park home, including a few rare sights that hikers have been lucky enough to see.

Rare Turtle: The Blandings turtle can be spotted in the ponds and lakes in the park. This is an endangered turtle and a treat to spot in the park.

Birdwatching: A birders paradise! Lake Maria State park is home to 205 different species of birds. Bring your binoculars and get ready to check birds off your checklist. Some are residents while others are just passing through, check the migration patterns to give a greater chance of spotting the migratory birds.

Deer: We have spotted many deer in this park. They seem to be accustomed to hikers and campers making them easier to spot by quiet hikers. If you’re really lucky, you may just spot the parks albino deer!

Squirrels: A band of feisty squirrels are scattered about the park. They are a real entertaining sight. Xena, the Dane, enjoys them the most.

Bears: While not a common sight in Lake Maria State Park, locals have spotted a bear more in recent years. Some bordering the park have even spotted the curious creatures at bird feeders.


Lake Maria State Park offers a more secluded camping experience in relation to other parks near the metro area. This makes it a popular destination as well, so book early. Even with all of the campsites filled, there is much space between sites. All campsites require a half to one mile hike to your site. There are no drive in sites.

We camped in the group campsite with my daughters girl scout troop. The group camp area is quite spacious and connects to other trails in the park. The trails are a peaceful escape in the early morning hours to have a few moments of peace before the scouts wake up. One small path led to a little pond, beautiful.

Camper Cabins: There are three camper cabins available at Lake Maria. These cabins lack electricity, but have heat available via a wood burning stove. A much more rustic experience than that of other parks with electricity and heat at the ready.

Evening Chorus: The evenings of summer camping at Lake Maria was filled with the song of owls and coyotes. Can you think of a better lullaby?

Nearby the park, there is a dog sledding kennel. While we did not hear any husky howling, others have mentioned hearing some singing from the dogs. They have a lovely chorus when they all sing together.

Other Activities


  • Hiking- 14 miles
  • Horse Trails: 6 miles
  • Canoeing- rentals available at park office
  • Fishing


  • Cross Country Skiing- 6 miles
  • Snowshoeing- Anywhere in the park, not on groomed trails

Cascade River State Park, MN: The Cascades, Lookout Mountain, and Superior Shores

Catch a glimpse of beauty at one of the North Shores best state parks. Waterfalls, overlooks, and gorgeous Lake Superior shoreline.

The North Shore of Minnesota is a frequent haven for our family. Cascade River has been passed so many times on our way to somewhere else. We finally made a point to stop and actually camp at this park before our entry into the BWCA for an Eagle Mountain hike. This way, we could not pass it up any longer. What an amazing park it is, with so much to see!

Quick Review: 9/10 Cascade River gets a pretty high rating from our crew. While our trip was a comical calamity, the park itself still delivered on the beauty. This is a park we will visit again on future trip to the far north.


The name ‘Cascade River’ is spot on with this park. The falls are something out of a fairy tale and accented well with the built in log bridge and overlook. There are multiple falls at this park, all of which have easy hikes to access them.

Cascade Falls: The Cascade River roars down the falls at Cascade Falls making it’s way down to the shores of Lake Superior. This hike is a half mile long from the trail center. These falls drop 25 feet rushing toward Lake Superior through dramatic gorges and rapids. This is a phenomenal location for nature photographers.

The Cascades: Travel a short distance up river for a second falls experience. The log bridge crossing the river reveals spectacular angles for head-on views of the swift waters. We spent quite a bit of time admiring the chaotic, yet hypnotic flow of the river.

Hidden Falls: If you have time to spare, there is a bonus falls just outside of the park, upstream on Cascade River. It’s a small falls that can be accessed by a simple hike from a parking area near a bridge over Cascade River. It’s easier than it sounds. To get to this parking area head north on Hwy 61 leaving the state park, turn left at onto CR 7, and another left onto CR 44 after 2 miles. The parking area will be about 2.5 miles down the road. On foot, head south on the Superior Hiking Trail to the falls, the hike distance is just under a mile.


Cascade River has the options of camping with an RV, in a tent at the campground, or backpacking to designated campsites. We had an interesting experience while camping at Cascade River. For the full disaster check out Mistakes & Lessons at Cascade River.

Backpack Sites: We chose to hike in to a campsite. Our hike was about 1.5 miles long to the Lookout Mountain campsite (BP5) and included a portion of the Superior Hiking Trail. With ample parking provided by this park, it was quick to secure a spot for the Pathfinder. Then we hiked in the dark… yeah, it was a mess.

Bear Box: The backpack campsites do come equipped with a ‘bear box.’ This is a metal lockable box to keep bears from helping themselves to your dinner while you’re are sleeping or away from camp.

Campground: If hiking to a campsite is not in the cards or not your style, the park also is equipped with a campground containing 40 sites available for RV’s and tents alike. Showers and toilets are available in the campground, seasonally of course.

State Park Hiking Trails

Cascade River State Park boasts 18 miles of hiking trails. Many of the trails are difficult and contain rough terrain or steep inclines. Check the map before hitting the trail and compare the trail with your skill level. Hike smart and know your ability.

The easiest hikes are closer to the shores of Lake Superior. This trail is easily accessed by hiking down from the falls area or at the parking area near the shoreline.

Lookout Mountain: The best overlook in the park, in my opinion, came from the climb to Lookout Mountain, which I continuously called ‘Overlook Mountain’. This hike will take you from the Trail Center, past the Cascades, along a portion of the Superior Hiking Trail, and near a campsite. At the top of this peak you’ll be able gain views all the way to Lake Superior. It’s one of the best vantage points on the Northshore. The distance for this hike, out and back, is about 3 miles.

Superior Hiking Trail

The Superior Hiking Trail cuts through the park for a portion of the trails. It leads past Lookout Mountain and The Cascades before exiting the park. The shared sections are clearly marked in the park. There are is something cool about hiking a little sections of the trail on your adventure in Cascade River State Park, especially with the kids along.

Lake Superior

Cascade River State Park contains over a mile of shoreline to explore on the great Lake Superior. To access Lake Superior, use either the parking along Hwy 61 at the Cascade Wayside or the parking area near the trail center inside the park and hike to the shoreline using the hiking trails. Parking at the Trail Center will allow for a great hike by the falls prior to strolling along the shore.

Nearby Restaurants

Cascade Restaurant & Pub: This rustic joint sits immediately south of Cascade River State Park. They have amazing burgers and the crispy chips are fantastic. We stopped here after a trek in the Boundary Waters, Bower Trout to Swan Lake. After a long weekend of camp grub, this really hit the spot.

My Sister’s Place: North of the park in Grand Marais is a great place that has a unique shake on the menu. Blueberry!! What!? It was delicious, a great change from your typical strawberry or chocolate shakes. The burgers were quite tasty as well. The restaurant has a casual feel with both indoor and outdoor seating.

Neighboring State Parks & Hikes

A great perk about the state parks along the North Shore, is that there is no shortage of hiking and sight seeing in the area. The North Shore is home to eight state parks, numerous recreation area and waysides with stunning views. You don’t have to stay on the shores of Lake Superior to satisfy your wanderlust, a great hike just an hour inland is waiting. Check out Eagle Mountain in the Boundary Waters.

Cozy Camper Cabins: Weekend Getaway at Jay Cooke State Park

Cozy up in these rustic little cabins scattered about the Minnesota State Parks. The perfect getaway spot for couples or families seeking a secluded winter experience in the woods.

A stay in a Camper Cabin was on my Winter Bucket List this year. Jay Cooke really delivered on the winter wonderland/cozy cabin feel for the weekend. Not knowing what to expect for our first Camper Cabin stay, we were truly impressed with this experience and will absolutely be seeking out more adventures like this one from our State Parks in Minnesota.


Our choice of park was Jay Cooke State Park. 29 of the 66 state parks in Minnesota have camper cabins. Not all are available year round, this excellent map from the DNR website shows which parks have camper cabins specific to the time of year. With all of these locations to choose from, you’re bound to find one at a park that suits your family and the adventure you’re looking for. The DNR website is an amazing resource and has a map of all parks offering cabins here.

We landed on Jay Cooke for two reasons. First, I was a little late in the game to reserve a cabin and most were take already. Jay Cooke had just one cabin left. Second, the close proximity to Duluth for the Cold Front Winter Festival and site seeing along Lake Superior. For more on Jay Cooke in the winter check out our Winter at Jay Cooke post.

Campground Winter Accommodations

Majority of the campground accommodations are shutdown for the winter, including water, showers, and restrooms. There are still a few things available in the area for winter campers and cabin guests.

Frost Proof Spigot: The park provides a frost proof spigot for water that is available for cooking and drinking water year round. This is close to the cabins and campsites that remains open for the winter.

Vault Style Toilets: These ‘restrooms’ remain open year-round. They are surprisingly more pungent in the winter than in the summer. I would image the reason for this is the lack of microorganisms breaking down the waste. Toilet paper is available and not lacking in supply in the restrooms.

**Warning: Vault style toilets in winter are chilly on the buns. If you’re camping with kids, use the restroom first to save their little buns from a frosty shock.

Inside Gabbro Cabin

We stayed in the Gabbro Cabin. This cabin sleeps 6 people comfortably. There are two sets of bunks. A single sleeper on the top bunk with a double on the bottom. The mattresses are surprisingly comfortable. Bring your own bedding, the mattresses do not have sheets on them. We brought our sleeping bags, worked like a charm and made it feel more like camping.

The cabin contains a small breakfast nook. It works great for meals, organizing the daypack and play cards late at night.


Cooking is not allowed inside the cabin. That’s no problem as there is a nicely placed picnic table outside that works great for a cooking surface. It’s perfectly level for a camp stove. We made our morning coffee outside and enjoyed our thermal mugs of liquid energy inside the cabin.


Firewood can be purchased at the Park Office upon check-in. They also have fire starters available. I recommend purchasing two of these fire starters as the wood takes a bit of effort to catch. We had a heck of a time getting the kiln dried wood to start, as usual. Thankfully, I had a fire starter in my Winter Emergency Kit that I keep in my vehicle. Collecting firewood from around the campground area is not allowed.

Fire rings are not shoveled out by the park service. If you intent to have a campfire during your stay in the winter, plan to bring a shovel to clear the snow.

**S’mores Tip: Eat your s’more fast or you’ll be holding it over the fire to thaw the chocolate before you’re finished.


The cabins at Jay Cooke have electricity and heat. Our cabin was kept at a comfortable 65 degrees during our stay, though it is requested that campers turn the temperature down to 60 when leaving camp.

Clean Up

A simple clean up is the responsibility of cabin guests. The park doesn’t ask for much from the campers. A broom and shovel are in the porch for guest use. Clean up is a snap as there are boot mats and rugs inside the cabins.

  • Wipe down surfaces.
  • Sweep cabin floor (mops available at park office if needed).
  • Pack out trash, larger trash bins are located inside the campground.

What to Bring

Sleeping Bags/Pillows: The cabin is equipped with bunks and mattresses but campers will need to supply their own bedding.

Camp Stove/Cookware: There is no kitchen inside the cabin. Plan to cook just as you would for outdoor camping or bring along food that doesn’t require cooking.

Eating Utensils/Dishes: No kitchen also means no utensils or dishes. Treat this just like a camping situation and bring your own dishes for making meals, eating, and cleaning up.

Headlamp: The vault toilet is conveniently close but it lacks light. Our stay was during a full moon so the path to the restroom was well lit. Inside the shack, it was quite dim and a headlight was required at night.

Cards/Games: It gets dark early in the winter. Bring some cards or other family favorites for entertainment inside the cabin at night. My daughter whooped my butt several times in Uno. Good times.

Water Jug & Dispenser: There is a spigot available, this one is not essential. But it sure does make things easier. I love having this along on all trips that we’ll be having the vehicle along or nearby. It’s great for filling water bottles and cooking at camp.

Shovel: If you are intending to have a campfire, bring a small shovel to dig out the fire ring. There was a shovel in the cabin porch, but it wasn’t the right shovel for the job.

Add this winter adventure to your Winter Bucket List and experience the snowy wonderland of the Minnesota State Parks.

Winter at Jay Cooke State Park

Frozen falls, swinging bridge, and endless adventure awaits at Jay Cooke State Park. Ski, snowshoe, or hike your way to amazing views at this wintery woodland.

State Parks in the Minnesota summer buzz with activity from visitors seeking natural wonders. The magic of these parks doesn’t stop with the snowfall. The snow gives way to a new adventure and a quiet park to be explored. With crowds dispersed for the season, Jay Cooke can be appreciated more fully for it’s wintery beauty.

Quick Review: 9/10 Jay Cooke is not lacking in whimsical winter views. Well packed trails and clear signage is obvious evidence of the hard work the park rangers put in at Jay Cooke.

Swinging Bridge

The majority of the parks trails kick off at the parks main draw, the swinging bridge. The bridge allows winter travelers to cross the aggressive St. Louis river that roars beneath the ice below. The incomplete ice gives glimpses of the strong current of root beer colored waters that flow to Lake Superior.

Snow Covered Falls

During the spring and summer the flow over the rocks is thunderous and intimidating. Some points of the year, depending on rain fall and time of year, the waterflow slows. In the winter months the ice takes hold on much of the falls, leaving sparse sections of water to be seen through the snow and ice. Snow accumulates over the icy rocks giving a calmer atmosphere around the river. Take time to appreciate the calm that winter brings.


The trails at Jay Cooke are well maintained and well marked. I was thoroughly impressed with how well the park rangers here keep up with trail maintenance. Not only are the trails marked for direction but also for usage type. No mistaking which method of travel is to be used on a given trail at this park.

Snowshoe/Hike: While Jay Cooke has no lack of trails in it’s territory, there is but four trails designated for hiking and snowshoeing. The trails still cover a vast nine miles of winter hiking. Two trails embark from the visitor’s center leading either around the campground or across the swinging bridge, then west along the St. Louis River. The other two trails require a drive to another parking area, one of which connects to the Superior Hiking trail.

**If hiking with small children, the paths are not suitable for strollers and can be too narrow or steep for many carriers. We needed to carry our 3 year old over some of the rougher areas, not a hinderance though.

Ski: This State Park is a cross country skier’s paradise. There are a total of 32 miles of ski trails in the park with a variety of levels. Closer to the visitors center there are easier trails. As one ventures farther away, the trails become increasingly difficult.

Fat-tire Biking: This is one of the few parks that allow for fat-tire biking. There are about 5 miles of trails designated for bikes, a section of which is shared with skiers.


Jay Cooke can accommodate a variety of different camping styles, everything from backpack “roughing it” to rustic cabins. During the winter, the camper cabins remain available for reservations as well as 12 campsites in the campground. The 12 sites and the cabin areas are plowed for the season. The showers and bathrooms are closed but there is one frost proof spigot for water and a vault style toilet nearby.

We stayed in one of the five available cabins during our stay at Jay Cooke. I highly recommend an overnight adventure in one of these cozy cabins. During the winter, the campground feels much more secluded and void of crowds. Our weekend getaway at the Jay Cooke Camper Cabins was a wonderful winter experience for us and our kids.

River Inn Visitors Center

The River Inn Visitor’s Center doubles as a nature center and warming house. From outside, the smoke coming from the chimney is quite inviting after a day of snowshoeing or skiing. Get toasty warm by the fireplace in the main area of the building or check out the informative nature displays. There are even some sensory displays for the kids.

Park Office & Store

Park passes and camp check-in can be obtained at the Park Office at the entrance of the park. Available inside is a variety of souvenirs, snacks, maps, camp items, firewood and starters. It’s worth a visit, especially if you’ve forgotten a piece of essential camping gear.

Celebrate Wildlife with 30+ Holidays to Add to Your Calendar

Spend this year celebrating and appreciating the wild world with these awesome animal and nature inspiring days.

We can celebrate our wild world all year long with these fun and informative holidays. It’s another excuse to get out and appreciate what we have all around us. I have enjoyed getting my kids involve and teaching them about these special days celebrating different outdoor activities and animals.


20th- Penguin Awareness Day: Learn a thing or two about the 18 different species of penguin. They are fascinating creatures! Check your local zoo and aquarium for the opportunity to observe and learn about these water loving birds.

21st- Squirrel Appreciation Day– Why do we appreciate squirrels? Thousands of trees are planted each year because squirrels have forgotten where they have buried their nuts. We can all relate to that. Way to go, squirrels!

25th- National Moose Day: Who doesn’t love this Northwoods giant?! The largest of the deer species, this agile beast roams the forests of the north. It is quite a treat to view these solitary animals in the wild.

31st- National Hot Chocolate Day: Okay… not wildlife related, but this is a great way to celebrate the end of the coldest month of the year. Brew up a cup of cocoa to welcome the month of February. Better yet, enjoy an end of January hike and top it off with a mug of cocoa.


2nd- Ground Hog Day: This is a wonderfully old tradition! Check to see if the Ground Hog has seen his shadow to determine whether or not spring will be early or if we must endure six more weeks of winter. Don’t forget to check out Punxsutawney Phil’s weather report live from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania!

22nd- National Wildlife Day– This day is formerly celebrated in September. The date of February 22nd was added to honor Steve Irwin in memory of his birthday. This is a day we can all get behind for Steve.

27th- National Polar Bear Day– These bears are a threatened species with the ice they depend on deminishing. Take time on this day to learn a bit more about these massive bears and what we can do to assist them.


3rd- World Wildlife Day: This day not only celebrates all of the wild critters in our world, but the need to protect it. The loss of habitat, overuse of land, poaching and many other aspects are threatening our wild world. This is a day to take a step back and see what we can do to change our impact.

14th- National Learn About Butterflies Day: These beautiful pollinators grace this world with their presence. We have all witnessed the beautiful fluttering of a butterfly. Use this day to learn a little something about these beauties and teach your kids to appreciate them as well. Plant some milkweed, a butterfly bush, or other flowers to help them out this summer.

21st- International Day of Forests: This is a day to honor and appreciate trees in our world and the importance of their presence. Plant a tree (or plan to plant a tree when the ground thaws), take a hike in the woods, visit a protected forest, and learn more about the trees in your area.

29th- Manatee Appreciation Day: Celebrated on the last Wednesday in March, Manatee Appreciation Day brings up awareness of these sea potatoes. Beautiful as they are, they need to be protected from boaters, changing waters, and other human activity. Take some time on this day to learn about manatees, observe them if you can, or float around in a pool eating lettuce.


2nd- National Ferret Day: A wonder of a weasel! These critters make a unique and entertaining pet. If you are the happy pet parent to a ferret, be sure to whip up a special treat for them on this day. If you are not a ferret parent, perhaps take time to learn about the Black Footed Ferret. These endangered weasels have only about 370 left in the wild, but there are efforts to bring these prairie dog hunters back to control the population of prairie dogs.

3rd- National Find a Rainbow Day: April showers bring May flowers! And rainbows! April is a great time for spotting a rainbow, a glimmer of hope in the midst of a dreary rainy month. The rainbow is also a representation of God’s promise and gives hope. Check the forecast and see if rain is coming your way on this day so you can get out and spot your own rainbow. Don’t forget to check the end for a pot of gold!

8th- National Zoo Lovers Day: The zoo is a great experience for kids to learn about and observe animals they wouldn’t normally see in their own area. Check out your local zoo. Spring is a great time to check out new arrivals, too!

14th- National Dolphin Day: Oh, my daughter is going to love this one. These fun-loving marine mammals are one of her favorites. Swim with dolphins on this day, go on a boat tour, visit a zoo/aquarium, or try your hand at doing a flip in the pool.

17th- National Bat Appreciation Day: We can all appreciate bats. Even if they give you the heebie-jeebies, they are one of the most useful creatures of the night. A single bat will eat up to 1000 insects in just one night. That number jumps to 4,500 insects for a nursing mother. Put up a bat house to help keep these flying bug eating machines at work in your area.

22nd- Earth Day: We all know how important Earth Day is! Learn and teach your kids about the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” principles. A great way to honor this day is to clean up your neighborhood, community, or local trails. Then sort the trash into recyclables and show kids where to dispose of the trash.


1st- May Day: Hasn’t everyone heard of May Day? The tradition is to leave a basket of flowers on the doorstep of someone you like, ring the doorbell, and run away. If they catch you, they have to kiss you. We’ve mixed this up to better the tradition. Our kids paint a flower pot, plant a flower, and leave in on their grandparents’ front step. It is greatly appreciated by their grandma’s, and it prompts a fun visit in the spring.

13th- Migratory Birds Day: For those of us living in the north, spring is an exciting time when all of the migratory birds are making their way back to us. Fill your feeders and hummingbird stations and watch them come in to feed. We love watching the hummingbirds zip by fighting over flowers and feeders, they are so fiesty.

16th- National Love a Tree Day: Trees provide us with fruit, nuts, wood, oxygen, shelter for us and animals, shade, and oxygen. Take time to be a tree hugger on this day and show the forest some love.

23rd- World Turtle Day: This day was brought to us by the American Tortoise Rescue. This rescue helps these reptiles in many ways. Not just in placing rescued critters into home but also to stop cruelty and the improper selling of these unique reptiles. Check out their site at tortoise.com and see how you can help and celebrate.


3rd- National Black Bear Day: Celebrated on the first Saturday in June, this is a day to really learn about this misunderstood critter. Bears are curious creatures that love to snack. If you are a frequent camper, then you know how to keep your items out of a bear’s reach and that they are merely trying to feed themselves. Check out the North American Bear Center in Ely to gain knowledge on these special omnivores.

3rd- National Trails Day: After visiting the Bear Center, hit the trails and see if you can’t find some bear sign. Not near Ely? Hike, bike, or ride on a trail near you and breathe in the fresh air. It’s a great way to kick off the summer.

20th-22nd- Summer Solstice: This is the longest day of the year. It changes from year to year between these three days. I think we can all be thankful for the amount of sunlight we get in the summer months to enjoy the great outdoors. Especially after such a long winter. Stay up late and watch the sun set on this magical day.


20th- National Moon Day: On this day in 1969, mankind first walked on the moon. Take time on this evening to gaze up at the big beautiful natural satellite and marvel at the wonders of the moon.

31st- National Mutt Day: Love your mixed breed dog on this day! Share a photo of him and give him lots of treats and maybe a special outing! Everyone loves a good mutt!


19th- World Honey Bee Day: On the 3rd Saturday of August this day brings awareness on just how important these pollinators are to our world. Honey Bees pollinate our crops, provide honey and wax. Take the day to learn about this mighty creature that comes in such a small package. Plant flowers to help them along.

25th- National Park Founders Day: On this day in 1916, the National Park Service was Founded. Take time to visit a National Park or Monument near you and be grateful for the protected natural areas still around for us to enjoy.

26th- International Bat Night: Somehow this seems more appropriate than Bat Appreciation Day, seeing that bats are more active at night. If you haven’t had a chance to get that bat house up, now a is a great opportunity to do it.

26th- National Dog Day: Celebrate you dog on this day by taking him out on a special walk or hike. My hiking partner, Xena, is always up for an adventure and a treat.


4th- National Wildlife Day: This day acknowledges endangered species around the world and the day that the world had to say goodbye to the amazing wildlife expert and conservationist, Steve Irwin. To celebrate this day, help out a local zoo or sanctuary in their conservation efforts and learn more about helping your favorite endangered animal. February 22nd was added as a day to celebrate National Wildlife day to honor Steve Irwin.


20th- International Sloth Day: Lets all slow down for a day and go sloth pace. Take time on this day to curl up with a blanket and learn about sloths. This day was created to bring awareness to the sloth conservation efforts in Columbia.

29th- National Cat Day: Get out the cat treats for your feline friend or pick up a new friend at the shelter. This is a day to celebrate your kitty and to bring about awareness for the kitties without homes. Remember to spay & neuter your critters.


4th- National Bison Day: Observed on the first Saturday in November. A great way to kick of the month leading up to Thanksgiving is to give thanks to the American Bison. This beast was a major food source and had religious significance for Native Americans and was a source of income for pioneers moving west. Visit a zoo, a state park or a national park in your area to see these magnificent beasts. In Minnesota state parks, bison can be seen at Minneopa and Blue Mounds.

17th- National Take a Hike Day: Hit the trails and hike to your favorite overlook or waterfall. Take time to appreciate the services and agencies working hard to protect our outdoor play places.


11th- International Mountain Day: Mountains offer breathtaking views and a home to many mountainous critters. Use this day to learn about the mountain regions of the world and mountain safety, hike a mountain trail or remines about past mountain adventures.

27th- Visit the Zoo Day: It’s a bit chilly to visit the zoon in Minnesota in December and some some zoos have closed until spring. But the Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley and the Lake Superior Zoo in Duluth are open year round. There are some winter loving animals that become more active during the winter and it’s a great time to beat the crowds.