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On the Cottonwood River, as it flows through southern Minnesota, the Flandrau Campground is a deservedly popular base for RVers in New Ulm. It’s renowned for its sand-bottom swimming pool and historic Civilian Conservation Corps buildings, as well as plenty of recreational trails.
RV camping at the Flandrau Campground includes access to 90 sites, with 34 offering electrical connections and big rig access available. There are restrooms and showers for campers to use, and pets are welcome to say with you at the RV park, provided they remain on a leash.
The children’s playground and swimming pool make it ideal for families while fishing is also possible in the Cottonwood River. If you don’t want to set up your rig, there are two camper cabins with electric heating that are open throughout the year, as well as a group center with bunkhouses that can be booked ahead.
One of the best things about camping at the Flandrau Campground is its access to the recreational trails of Flandrau State Park. It was originally known as the Cottonwood River State Park but was renamed in 1945 in recognition of Charles Eugene Flandrau, who commanded defenses during the Battles of New Ulm in 1862. The park is home to several Civilian Conservation Corps buildings that were designed to reflect the German heritage of neighboring New Ulm but were transformed into a German prisoner of war camp during World War II. You can stretch your legs on the eight miles of hiking trails that wind through the park (some of which connect to New Ulm) or visit during the winter months when cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are possible.
Campsites at the Flandrau Campground also make a good base for visiting Minneopa State Park, which lies on the western edge of Mankato. It was created in 1905 around Minneopa Falls and was later expanded to include parts of Minneopa Creek and a nearby prairie. Aside from the hiking trail that accesses the falls area, the park also features a mid-19th-century mill and a cluster of rustic-style buildings that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. American bison were re-introduced to the park in 2015 and can be viewed in a drive-through enclosure while white-tailed deer and beavers can often be seen in the wild. If you’re a keen birdwatcher, Minneopa State Park is home to more than 200 recorded species, including red-tailed hawks, eastern meadowlarks, and bald eagles.
New Ulm campers are also within easy access of the Seven Mile Creek County Park, which lies along a small tributary of the Minnesota River. Seven Mile Creek is one of the few designated trout streams in south-central Minnesota and is annually stocked with fingerling brown trout, which can be seen in the crystal-clear water. There are ten miles of multi-use trails that traverse the park’s grasslands and deciduous forests, as well as a boat landing and volleyball nets.
If you’re camping at the Flandrau Campground, you can pick up groceries at one of the supermarkets in neighboring New Ulm, which is within walking distance of the RV park. There are also numerous gas stations here if you need to fill up your RV rental and a good selection of German-inspired restaurants and an American bistro if you want to dine out.
New Ulm was founded in 1854 by the German Land Company of Chicago and is proud of its German heritage. Begin your visit at the Brown County Historical Society, which occupies an ornate Renaissance-style building that was constructed in 1910 as the New Ulm Post Office. Learn about the Dakota War of 1862 and Brown County’s Century Farms, as well as objects gifted by New Ulm’s sister city of Ulm in Germany. Outside the museum is a map detailing some of the most historically significant sites in Brown County to help you plan your sightseeing expedition.
Other buildings of note in New Ulm include the Minnesota Museum Hall of Fame, which is located in the former library building. It features memorabilia of musicians and groups who have made their mark on the music world, with names such as Bob Dylan, Eddie Cochran, and The Andrews Sisters represented. Stroll to the Hermann Heights Monument and climb the spiral staircase to soak up the sweeping views across New Ulm, then explore the picturesque campus of Martin Luther College that perches on a bluff overlooking the Minnesota River.
Beer lovers shouldn’t miss a visit to the August Schell Brewing Company, which was founded by a German immigrant in 1860 and is one of the oldest of its kind in the United States. Coincide your visit with Bock Fest or Oktoberfest when New Ulm’s German roots are celebrated in true style at the brewery.
Whether you want to explore the nature reserves of southern Minnesota or discover the German heritage of New Ulm, book an RV in Brown County and start planning your next vacation.