Flandrau State Park is a popular state park spreading over 1,000 scenic acres in southern Minnesota. Surrounded by the Big Cottonwood River, floodplain forests, oxbow marsh, and wide open grassland, the park is a hotspot for outdoorsy activities, including hiking and fishing in the summer and cross-country skiing in the winter.
Formerly known as Cottonwood River State Park after the river that runs through it, Flandrau was used as a German prisoner of war camp during World War II and has plenty of history and culture for campers to discover. The park was renamed in 1945 to honor Charles E. Flandrau who helped draft the first Minnesota Constitution.
Today, the old POW camp is used as a modern group center with eight cabins, a dining hall and restrooms. There are also three campgrounds offering great facilities for RV campers, including a fantastic sandy beach and pool area, a children’s playground, and various sports facilities from volleyball nets to horseshoe pits. Families, big groups and solo campers of all interests are accommodated at Flandrau State Park with eight miles of hiking trails to explore, educational naturalist programs, and over 60 species of birdlife to spot, from warblers to flycatchers.
RV Rentals in Flandrau State Park
Transportation in Flandrau State Park
The park entrance to Flandrau State Park is located along Summit Avenue and well signposted. It can be found right next-door to the New Ulm Country Club. When the main gate is closed, access is available instead from the gate at the eastern end of the park, off Center Street. There are no driving restrictions within the park but keep an eye out for low-hanging branches.
There are various parking spots available throughout the park for day visitors but if you’re staying overnight you can park your RV or big rig in the campground too. Hiking and biking trails are great ways to get around the park without having to deconstruct your camp.
Campgrounds and parking in Flandrau State Park
Campsites in Flandrau State Park
There is also a rustic campground available at Flandrau State Park near the Oxbow Trail. This camping ground has 36 campsites available. This campground is only open from May to October. There are limited facilities within the campground with a primitive toilet and a central fire pit. Showers are available at the pool beach house until sunset. Three walk-in sites are available during the winter season.
There is a non-electric campground with 17 campsites available at Flandrau State Park. Campers have access to a primitive toilet and drinking water. Within the same area of the campground, there are two camper cabins and a CCC cabin which can be booked all year round.
A total of 90 campsites are available across three campgrounds at Flandrau State Park. The main campground is semi-modern and has 34 electric campsites with space for RVs up to 66 feet. There is also one wheelchair accessible site.
While most of the campsites within this main campground are rustic with electric hookups only, campers have access to restrooms with hot showers and flush toilets as well as a dump station. These facilities are available during peak season, while vault toilets are available year round. A modern group center has eight bunkhouses with a kitchen and dining area that can sleep up to 105 people.
The day use area is built around a sandy-bottomed pool and beach and there is a beach house, a picnic area with a playground, volleyball court and horseshoe facilities nearby. There is also a reservable shelter. Other facilities in the park include drinking water, a recycling center, dumpster, a boat ramp and eight miles of hiking trails.
Pets are welcome at Frandrau State Park but they need to be kept on a leash at all times. Please note that campers have to respect quiet hours between 10pm and 8am.
Seasonal activities in Flandrau State Park
Flandrau State Park is popular for hikers with all sorts of fascinating terrain to explore along the Hiking Club Trail, from wooded valleys and oxbow marshes, to hill prairies. There are eight miles of hiking trails to explore (six of which are used for cross-country skiing and two for snowshoeing in the winter months). Choose from the 0.6-mile (one way) Grassland Trail, the 0.7-mile Cottonwood Trail, 0.2-mile (one way) River Trail, and the 0.5-mile loop Pool and Woodlands Trails. Some of them are steep so be sure to pick the terrain that suits your fitness level.
Day visitors as well as campers staying at Flandrau State Park can enjoy swimming in the park’s man-made swimming pond. Situated at the day use area, the swimming pond has a safe swimming area where guests can cool off in the summertime. There is also a nearby picnic spot for enjoying a bite to eat.
With a location right on the Big Cottonwood River, Flandrau State Park’s activities revolve around water recreation. Anglers can enjoy fishing for all sorts of interesting game fish in the Big Cottonwood River, from northern pike, to smallmouth bass and rough fish. Other water sports to enjoy on the river include canoeing, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, and tubing.
There is a wealth of historical points of interest to discover in Flandrau State Park. Explore the historic buildings built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Veterans Conservation Corps, and the Works Progress Administration. Learn about the history of the park when it was used as a prisoner of war camp for the Germans during World War II.
During the winter months, the eight miles of hiking trails are groomed and prepared for winter sports in the snow. There are six miles of trails for cross-country skiing, and two miles for snowshoeing. Ski and snowshoe equipment can be rented from the park office on weekends in the wintertime when staff are available. Snow fencing is put up to keep visitors out of unsafe or ungroomed parts of the trails.
The eight miles of nature trails throughout the park are ideal for birding. There are more than 60 species of birds documented in Flandrau State Park. Most of these are songbirds that migrate here rather than nest in the park. Keep an eye out for warblers, vireos, flycatchers, and thrushes. You will also see wild turkeys and red-shouldered hawks on the slopes. Interested birders can pick up a birding kit from the park office.