Skip to main content

Boreal Community Media

#OptOutside: Free entrance to Minnesota state parks and recreation areas on Nov. 24

Nov 24, 2023 09:51AM ● By Content Editor
Photo: Laura Durenberger-Grunow

From the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources - November 20, 2023

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is waiving entrance fees to all 75 state parks and recreation areas on Friday, Nov. 24 – the day after Thanksgiving. This “Free Park Day” is one of four days each year when the DNR waives the requirement for a vehicle permit at state parks and recreation areas. The goal of Free Park Days is to encourage Minnesotans to get outdoors and enjoy the health and wellness benefits of spending time in nature.

“During the hustle and bustle of the busy holiday season, Minnesota state parks and recreation areas are the perfect places to enjoy the tranquility of nature,” said Ann Pierce, director of the DNR Parks and Trails Division. “We encourage people to get outside with friends and family after Thanksgiving gatherings to enjoy the calming sights and sounds of nature.”

Many published studies show the positive physical and mental health benefits of spending time in nature. According to the American Psychological Association, the calming and restorative qualities of nature help lower cortisol levels, which leads to reduced stress and improved cognitive function.

Some state parks will offer naturalist programs on Nov. 24. Among the programs planned on Free Park Day are guided nature walks at Whitewater, Wild River and Split Rock Lighthouse state parks. Most naturalist programs are free, but sometimes require advance registration. Check the parks and trails event calendar webpage for details.

Most state park offices and visitor centers will be minimally staffed on Nov. 24, so visitors are encouraged to plan ahead and arrive prepared for their visit.

  • Check visitor alerts and find directions on state park webpages.
  • Download the Avenza app and the geoPDF map for the park you’ll be visiting before the trip. The app and maps are free, and maps will display a user’s current location even when not connected to the internet or cell service. Find information on the DNR’s geoPDF map webpage. Visitors without a smartphone should look for paper maps outside the park office.
  • Visit the self-orientation signs near the park entrance for suggestions on what to see and do in the park.
  • Check the weather forecast before leaving home, and dress appropriately for the conditions. Be sure to pack water and snacks.

For more information, visit the free park day webpage.

Boreal Ship Spotter - larger view here