Minnesota Destinations

 

These are locations in Minnesota where native plants, birds, and other wildlife can be viewed. With very few exceptions, these destinations are open to the public.

Each destination includes driving directions, photos, and lists of plants and wildlife found on the site. Many include a printable map with GPS coordinates. Many also include videos.

More than 300 printable maps show GPS coordinates of site boundaries, trails, streams, and significant landmarks. Most also include a map of native plant communities.

Visitors can share their own photos, videos, plant and wildlife sightings, and other observations.


 

Drought Monitor

 

 

 

 

 

           

Recent Additions/Updates

 
River Warren Outcrops SNA

 

River Warren Outcrops SNA

Designated on August 22, 2016, River Warren Outcrops SNA is one of Minnesota’s two newest SNAs. Its 89 acres include a prairie restoration, densely wooded bedrock outcrop, and floodplain forest along the east bank of the Minnesota River. Plains prickly pear and Kentucky coffee tree, two species of special concern in Minnesota, are found here.

Future management plans include the removal of buckthorn and redcedar from about 85% of the site, and continued restoration of a former agricultural field to prairie. An unusual feature of this SNA is 1.6 miles of horse trails. These trails were on the site when the land was purchased by the DNR, and they will continue to be maintained by the seller.

 
 

Crystal Spring SNA

 

Crystal Spring SNA

On rare occasions we come across a wild space so fragile or beautiful that we hesitate to publish it. We want to keep it to ourselves, to protect it and prevent it from being spoiled. The hidden cove at Crystal Spring Scientific and Natural Area, Minnesota’s newest SNA, is that kind of place. Crystal Spring SNA is near Taylor’s Falls in northern Washington County. Its 38 woodland acres are mostly red oak forest with small areas of black ash swamp.

A forest road and then a well-worn hiking trail lead from the northwest corner to the southeast corner of the SNA. The hiking trail eventually passes a set of winding steps that leads down a bluff and out of sight. The steps end at a sandstone cliff about 25 feet above a stream. A narrow trail at the base of the cliff but only halfway down the steep bluff leads to a hidden cove. The north wall of the cove is dry cliff exposing two bedrock layers, Jordan Sandstone and Saint Lawrence Shale. A spring at end of the cove bubbles into a “crystal” clear pool which overflows down the cliff to Zavoral’s Creek below. The steep walls of the gorge, the waterfall, and the lush vegetation join to create an alluring natural attraction.

Four species with conservation status in Minnesota have been seen here: butternut, an endangered species; and American ginseng, Louisiana Waterthrush, and Red-shouldered Hawk, all special concern species.

 
 

River Terrace Prairie SNA

 

River Terrace Prairie SNA

River Terrace Prairie SNA features a rare gravel prairie on a terrace above the Cannon River valley.

The northwest-facing slope of the terrace is the best place to view native wildflowers in the spring. Visit in early May to see blooming American pasqueflower, mid-May for prairie smoke and kittentails, and late May for fringed puccoon and prairie violet.

The old field below the terrace is a work in progress. Recent management activities in this area include cutting and stacking eastern redcedar and mowing down other woody species. A prescribed burn north and east of the terrace was conducted in the spring of 2017.

 
 
 
 
 

Lilydale Regional Park

 

Lilydale Regional Park

Lilydale Regional Park lies on the south bank of the Mississippi River south of St. Paul. Its 286 acres of river bottom forest are prone to flooding in the spring. It is this seasonal flooding that eventually convinced the residents of the town of Lilydale, established in 1896, to relocate to the top of the bluff. The presence of spruces and lilacs among the usual floodplain trees testifies to the areas urban past. In the summer, lily pads dot the surface of Pickerel Lake.

Lilydale Regional Park is part of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (MNRRA). MNRRA, pronounced “minnra”, is a partnership park, a new and unique kind of national park. It is a 72-mile, 53,775 acre corridor along the Mississippi River stretching from Weigh Station Highway Park on US Highway 10 in Ramsey to the Dakota County/Goodhue County border. Only two small parcels are owned by the National Park Service.

Photo by Kirk Nelson
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Pilot Knob

 

Pilot Knob

Pilot Knob is an historic site in Mendota Heights on the east bank of the Minnesota River. Two overlooks provide spectacular vistas of Fort Snelling, the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers, and the Minneapolis skyline. A half-mile of paved and mowed trails include interpretive signs that describe the history of the site. The trail connects to Dakota County’s Big Rivers Regional Trail, a paved bike trail. Bald Eagles and migrating raptors are often seen flying overhead.

Pilot Knob is known to the Dakota as Oheyawahi, or “a hill much visited.” It served as a burial site for for Dakota Villages along the Minnesota River. It is here that the Dakota signed a treaty in 1851 that transferred millions of acres of land to the United States. The City of Mendota Heights acquired 25 acres on the hill in 2006. Overhead power lines were buried underground, brush was cut and removed, prairie was restored, and wildflowers and oak trees were planted.

Photo by Kirk Nelson
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Other Recent Additions/Updates

 

 

Terrace Oaks West

Tamarack Nature Center

Leif Mountain

Woodland Trails Park

Stanley Eddy Memorial Park Reserve

Tympanuchus Prairie

Pelan Prairie

Belgium Prairie

  Tympanuchus Prairie
Tympanuchus Prairie
 
 
 
 

Coming Soon

 

Crystal Spring SNA

Glacial Lakes (TNC)

Thompson County Park (Dakota County)

Lawrence Creek SNA

Mississippi River County Park (Stearns County)

National Wetlands Inventory maps

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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