Minnesota Offers Free Park Day

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Along with other parks across the country, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is encouraging families to answer the call of the wild and participate in National Get Outdoors Day by offering a variety of free activities statewide on Saturday, June 12.

The DNR will also waive the requirement for a $5 vehicle permit and provide free admission at all 73 Minnesota state parks and recreation areas that day. The goal of National Get Outdoors Day is to introduce first-time visitors to state parks, state trails, fishing piers, and other public lands. In particular, it aims to reconnect youth - whose participation in outdoor recreation has been declining - to the great outdoors.

In the Twin Cities area, the main attraction will be the Take a Day OFF event taking place from 1 to 5 p.m. at Fort Snelling State Park in St. Paul. The afternoon will include opportunities to experience more than a dozen free activities, such as fishing, canoeing, geocaching, and camping basics. Experts from the DNR, REI, Conservation Corps Minnesota, and other outdoor recreation organizations will be on hand to help families design their next outdoor adventure.

Some Minnesota state parks are also offering free fishing clinics on June 12 in conjunction with Take-A-Kid Fishing weekend, such as a fly-fishing workshop for anglers of all ages from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at William O'Brien State Park. For a list of activities at Minnesota state parks trails, and recreation areas, call the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or toll-free 888-646-6367.

In the past, the DNR offered free admission to Minnesota state parks and recreation areas on the first Sunday in June. The decision to switch to the second Saturday in June was based on the DNR's desire to support the broader effort to promote National Get Outdoors Day.

In addition to getting free admission to parks and programs, families can pick up copies of the Parks Guide and an 80-page spring/summer Programs & Special Events catalog when they arrive on June 12.

For the past 10 years, Minnesota's Touchstone Energy Cooperatives have made the Guide possible with their generous financial support. The Programs & Special Events catalog lists more than 300 things to do between now and Labor Day. It also features an overview of what’s new in 2010 at Minnesota state parks and recreation areas, such as the loaner fishing equipment that can now be checked out for free at more than 30 parks and the Kids Discovery Kits (including activities, stories, and tips to help ensure that a child's early outdoor experiences will be fun and memorable) that can be checked out for free at 20 parks.