Minneopa State Park beckons visitors of all ages with its rolling water sounds, majestic wildlife, and serene spaces. The term “Minneopa” brings to light how the Dakota Natives might have viewed waterways in the park’s vicinity, “water falling twice.” Waterfalls, a protected bison range, and plenty of hiking trails bring this park to the top of the list for any RVer interested in nature!
Located near the city of Mankato, RV and camper trailer visitors will love the remote feeling that Minneopa offers all year long. The Seppmann Mill brings history to life as visitors explore the old grist mill. Be sure not to miss the waterfalls and cottonwood trees when you venture on foot through the park’s trailways and hidden places.
In winter, bring your snow gear and get on the trails. Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing happen at Minneopa when the snow falls. In summer, hike through historic trails and pretend you are time traveling with the kids. Bring your inner naturalist any time of year and explore all that this park has to offer you and your crew!
Want to stay a while during your visit to the park? The Red Fox Campground within Minneopa State Park is the perfect place to do so with a mixture of electric and primitive sites that are suitable for RVs up to 75 feet in length. There is also a camper cabin and four group sites, so there are sites suitable for everyone. Peak season at Minneopa State Park runs from May until September.
Minneopa State Park is located nine miles south of Mankato, MN via Highway 169. The park entrance is about a 90-minute drive south of Minneapolis, MN. This unique park has two sides. The waterfalls and park office are accessible via County Highway 69. The campground and bison range area may be accessed via State Highway 68. Highways 68 and 69 make up most of the driving roadways in Minneopa, so the park will be very easily accessible for anyone visiting the area for the first time.
There are plenty of places to stock up on supplies around the park since it is so close to the city of Mankato, so if you have forgotten anything you won't have to stress about going without. Be sure to check for Bison Drive Road alerts before your trip and when you are visiting. This 331-acre portion of the park is only open on certain days. Visitors must stay inside the vehicle at all times while visiting the bison range. Viewing bison right from your vehicle adds something special to this state park!
You should also ensure that your RV or pull vehicle and trailer are equipped for the snow if you plan to travel in the winter. Remember to check the current road and weather conditions, but you can also contact the park if you are concerned.
If you are looking for a place to stay during your visit to Minneopa State Park, the Red Fox Campground will be the perfect place to call home. The campground features 67 sites for you to choose from, including six that are equipped with electric hookups. RVs up to 60 feet in length will be able to stay at the Red Fox Campground and a maximum of six people are allowed per campsite.
While water hookups are not available at individual campsites, RVers can fill up with water at the contact station. Drinking water is also available year-round at the park office. If you want to stay at one of the electric sites, be sure to plan ahead since they are limited. A dump station is available seasonally.
The layout of the campground is a little confusing, so remember to visit the camp office on the other side of the highway before you make your way to the desired site. Reservations are recommended, and the Red Fox Campground is open all year round.
None of the sites within the Red Fox Campground or at the group sites are specifically available on a first-come, first-served basis. If you are interested in camping without a reservation, the best time to do so is during the winter months when the campground won't be as busy. Since the park is located in a popular town, it will be hard to secure a site without a reservation during the peak season.
All of the sites within the Red Fox Campground are suitable for tent camping if you didn't bring an RV with you on your trip. Tent camping is also the only way you can camp in the group area, so for those visiting with friends, remind them to pack a tent! There are no specific tent-only sites, so you will be staying in larger areas that are also suitable for RV use.
Another great feature at Minneopa State Park is that there are four group camping areas available. All group camping areas are roughly the same size and are suitable for up to 15 people to use at a time. The sites are primitive and can only be used for walk-in tent camping, but there are some handy amenities. These include picnic tables, fire rings, a water collection point, and a vault toilet in a central area close to all of the group camp areas. If you want to use the group camp areas, you will have to reserve it prior to your arrival and be prepared to walk between 400 and 600 feet from your vehicle to reach the site.
Want to get out of the RV and experience cabin life? If so, you have the opportunity to do that thanks to one camper cabin available within the park. The cabin is available to use all year round, but during the wintertime, it can be used only from Thursday to Sunday. The cabin is equipped with electricity, but expect your stay to be on the more rustic end. Pets are not allowed, and the cabin has no bathroom facilities, but you are welcome to use the bathroom facilities available in the campground. Since there is only one cabin, you must book your stay ahead of time.
Take a driving tour through bison country! These magnificent beasts have 331 acres in which to roam and enjoy at their own pace within the park. Head to Seppman Mill overlook inside the range and see how many you can find. Remember to stay inside your vehicle and give each bison at least 75 feet clearance. Be especially mindful of calves as the herd works together to protect its young. Hiking is not permitted within the bison range areas of the park, and it is wise to check for current Bison Drive Road gate hours before planning your drive.
If you are a birding fan, you will be pleased that you decided to visit Minneopa State Park. The park has plenty of birds that call it home throughout the year, so no matter what time you decide to visit there will be birds to keep an eye on. A checklist is available (online or from the park office) to help you keep track of what you have spotted. Groups or families can make it into a contest to see who can find the most winged creatures while at the park. Blue jays, northern cardinals, and American goldfinch might be seen at any time of the year – but what will you find on your birdwatching adventure?
Bring your skis and enjoy the snow! Cross-country skiing is a wonderful way to experience Minneopa during the off-season. The cross-country trails circle the perimeter of the bison range offering skiers a backcountry feel without the need to travel too far from camp. If you plan on hitting the trails, you will have to bring your own gear with you as there are no guarantees that rentals will be available. You will also need to get your annual or daily Great Minnesota Ski Pass that can also be purchased in the surrounding city of Mankato, online, the self-registration kiosk, or at the park office.
Biking riders will be pleased to know that the park is an awesome spot to have some fun in the great outdoors. From the park office, hop on the South Route Trail to access 50 miles of paved biking trails. Enjoy the Red Jacket Trail, the Minnesota River Trail, and the Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail. A leisurely bike ride allows visitors to see more of the park and its surroundings than on foot alone. Take lunch with you and make a day of it! Be sure to let a member of your party know where you plan to bike – or take them all with you for a family day together. Some of the bikeways do leave the bounds of the park and a few sections are steep, so it is best to plan your biking adventure ahead of time.
Minneopa State Park is filled with pieces of the past! Bring your sketchbook and try to immortalize your artifact of choice on paper. Come and see what Works Progress Administration workers did to help preserve the area in the midst of the Great Depression. See how the Minnesota River helped the area to establish a life for early settlers. The German-style Seppmann windmill displays how natural resources were used in the 1800s to help provide food. Interpretive programs highlight the history of the land on which the park is situated. While many of the park's historical features are viewable all year long, some events are held seasonally or require registration.
The sound of moving water is something that tends to calm and invigorate us at the same time. Water cascading into a 50-foot gorge offers Minneopa visitors the ability to hear and observe the natural abilities of this mesmerizing natural resource. Minneopa Falls displays an upper and lower fall that have altered the face of the sandstone in this portion of the park. Observers can also enjoy views of the stone cliffs, plant life, and possibly even a beaver colony by walking down into the gorge for a more personal experience.