Minnesota is overflowing with outdoor adventure opportunities, and our exceptional state parks are a great place to start.

There are 65 state parks scattered across Minnesota, each with unique characteristics showcasing the incredible natural beauty of the North Star State. That means, wherever you are in Minnesota, you are likely not far from experiencing some of the best outdoor wonders in the country.

For me, surrounding myself with the splendor of nature is an instant anxiety buster. Experts say, 

Nature is not only nice to have, but it’s a have-to-have for physical health and cognitive functioning.

Minnesota State Parks by the Numbers

Minnesota is ranked #29 in the country for the highest percentage of state and national park coverage, with approximately 485,200 acres combined. State parks alone cover about 267,00 acres which equates to 0.5 percent of the entire state acreage.

According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, 9.8 million people visit Minnesota state parks every year, with more than 1 million of those visitors camping overnight at one of the 4,440 state park campsites.

RELATED: Huge Minnesota Bucket List of 50 Places and Things to See

The MN DNR says the most visited state parks are:

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How Much Does It Cost to Visit Minnesota State Parks?

A Minnesota State Park vehicle permit is very affordable. A permit for unlimited visits to every state park in the state is only $35 and is good for a full year from the month of purchase. The money goes back to help maintain the parks.

You can also take advantage of the 'Free Park Days' the MN DNR offers four times a year to everyone.

Here are the fee-free dates in 2024:

  • Monday, January 15, 2024
  • Saturday, April 27, 2024
  • Saturday, June 8, 2024
  • Friday, November 29, 2024

Along with a detailed map of Minnesota State parks, trails, and forests (below), the DNR has also put together a handy "ParkFinder" tool you can use to find parks based on criteria you set.

minnesota state parks map
Map of Minnesota State Parks, Trails, and Forests (tap to enlarge)
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10 Highest-Rated Minnesota State Parks

Visiting every state park in Minnesota is an excellent bucket list goal, but with 65 of them spread across the state, where do you start? Trip Advisor has curated a list of the best Minnesota state parks based on the rankings given by visitors who have come before you. Scroll through the list of the 10 highest-rated state parks in Minnesota and start exploring!

Gallery Credit: Minnesota Now

Highest-Rated Free Things to do in Minnesota, According to TripAdvisor

Stacker compiled a list of the highest rated free things to do in Minnesota from Tripadvisor.

Gallery Credit: Stacker

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