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Motorhome camping while exploring Minnesota is a wonderful way to see the Land of 10,000 lakes, and when you book an RV in Nicollet County, you’ll be centrally located to explore southern Minnesota with ease. In Nicollet County is Fort Ridgely State Park, which has a rich history both in human and natural events. The park’s natural history can be traced to over 12,000 years ago when the last glaciers covering this section of Minnesota retreated, leaving behind sand, gravel, and rocks known as glacial till.
RV camping at Fort Ridgely State Park will allow you to explore this unique landscape, which sits atop two distinct layers of the aforementioned glacial till. In more recent times, the area the park resides played an important role in the lives of soldiers during the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862. Fort Ridgely helped protect over 300 soldiers and civilians, and after the fort was closed in 1872, it was used by farmers for storing crops and animals. In 1896 the first section of land near the fort was purchased to become a war memorial, with many acres added since then.
There is a lot to do in the area while camping at Fort Ridgely State Park, including both activities in nature and in nearby towns. Some of the activities in the park include hiking, biking, horseback riding, Visiting the park will often reward you with warm weather, which makes hiking and biking far more enjoyable. The nearby Minnesota River is a great place to cool off when the heat is too much, so be sure to bring your swimsuit.
All of the trails welcome equestrians, but before bringing your horse, it is recommended that you call ahead to confirm the conditions of the trails. During the springtime, many of the trails can get extremely muddy due to heavy amounts of rain, but when you are camping with an RV nearby, it is possible to wait for a dryer day to go riding. Additionally, horses are also allowed on the paved and gravel roads, which make decent alternatives when the weather is less than agreeable.
During the colder months, after the snow has fallen, head to the park to enjoy a variety of winter sports. Cross country skiing is encouraged within park boundaries, and the diverse terrain offers challenges for skill levels ranging from easy to intermediate. Trails aren’t groomed, so visiting after a fresh snow is recommended. Having an RV rental near Fort Ridgely State Park in the wintertime will also make it possible to enjoy snowshoeing and snowmobiling, just be sure to bring your own gear.
The state park RV campgrounds found at Fort Ridgely State Park can accommodate more than 30 RVs at once, and vary in availability depending on the season. There are 31 drive-in sites that are only open during the warmer months. One pull-thru site is available but often books up before the season even begins. Additionally, guests will find 15 campsites that have electrical hookups, all of which are located in the Creekside campground loop.
All of the campsites at Fort Ridgley State Park have their own grill, picnic table, and fire ring for added convenience. There are also centrally located showers with hot water, flushing toilets, and vault toilets. Water is typically shut off during the colder months to preserve the integrity of the pipes, so be prepared to bring your own water while enjoying some wintertime state park RV camping.
The small city of Fairfax, which is nearly directly north of the park, is one of the closest and most convenient places to find gas stations, restaurants, and stores for supplies. Fairfax is home to the Fairfax Depot Museum, which has exhibits on local train and pioneer history. Also in Fairfax are a few family-friendly restaurants, making it easy to grab a bite to eat while camping nearby.
Sleepy Eye, to the south, is also close and has a bit more to offer than Fairfax. This town is located adjacent to Sleepy Eye Lake, and various parks near the lake make for great walking and biking destinations. There is also a golf course in town, in addition to an extremely walkable Main Street that has a few local restaurants to enjoy.
A few miles east of Sleepy Eye is New Ulm, one of the larger cities found in the area surrounding Fort Ridgely State Park. This town is home to the German Bohemian Museum, the Brown County Historical Society, the Schell Museum of Brewing, the Waraju Distillery Ruins, and the Kiesling House Museum. Many monuments can be found throughout the town, one interesting one to visit is the New Ulm Glockenspiel, a large clock tower located near downtown.