Snow or no snow, winter recreation ideas from the Minnesota DNR

Minnesota state parks are especially popular in the summer, but the DNR is encouraging people to give them a try in the winter months too.

“The parks look different in different seasons. And so for folks who may not have gone out to a state park in winter before, there are some really great things that don’t happen in the summer so much. You’re able to see a lot more wildlife in the winter when the trees aren’t covered with leaves,” Sara Berhow with the Parks and Trails Division said.

With little snow on the ground, Berhow had a few suggestions for the best activities right now.

“Hiking is great fun in the winter, and that’s something to do right now before we have snow to go snowshoeing,” she said. “Once they get groomed for those winter activities, we don’t want people hiking on those trails, but right now they’re not groomed because there’s not snow.”

She also recommended attending naturalist events or having kids participate in the Junior Ranger program.

“It’s geared toward kids ages 6-10 but all ages can participate,” Berhow said. “They can get the Junior Ranger booklet for free at a state park office, or there’s also a pdf version of it on the DNR website if people want to download it and print it at home. And kids can complete the activities, and then they get a free Junior Ranger badge.”

To prepare for snow to arrive, Berhow recommends checking ski and snowmobile equipment and gear.

“If you’re a snowmobiler, you’ll want to make sure that the registration for your snowmobile is current if you’re going to be riding on state trails,” she said. “And then if you’re a skier, you’ll want to make sure you get your ski pass. The Great Minnesota Ski Pass is $10 for one day or $25 for the whole season.”

The next free entrance day is Jan. 15.