Summer is finally around the corner, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources shares how you can make the most of the short season.
Minnesota is known for its summer, and for good reason. Though the season is short-lived (way too short-lived, if you ask me), we Minnesotans sure know how to make the most of it. From our seemingly endless lakes to the beautiful North Shore to long bike rides around the cities, a Minnesota summer is unmatched.
As things remain uncertain yet, as the pandemic continues on despite an increase in accessibility to the vaccine, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is fully committed to making sure that Minnesotans can fully enjoy the summer season, as it is intended to be.
The colors of summer draw in visitors each year, and locals enjoy soaking in the sunshine among our beautiful native plants. Which is why the DNR suggests checking out the many parks and trails around the state to witness some of Earth’s greatest gifts: wildflowers.
“Minnesota State Parks and Trails are home to a beautiful and diverse array of wildflowers. Some tower above you, some require bending at the knees to get a good look. Some will shock you with their vibrant colors, while others will reel you in with their intricacy. The timing of their blooms varies with the weather and where you are in the state,” says Interpretive Naturalist Jenni Webster. “In general, you can see the best variety of flowering forest plants from early May to early June. Prairie wildflowers usually put on their best show from early August to early September. Minnesota state park trails will allow you to get a great view without ever leaving the path.”
“Wildflowers are part of an ever-changing state park palette that reveals something new with each visit,” Webster adds.
For those looking for a side of adventure to their wildflower viewing, Webster recommends taking the Bog Walk at Lake Bemidji State Park.
“If you visit in mid-May, you’ll be treated to a carpet of white flowers courtesy of the Labrador tea plant. Take a trip in late June for a glimpse of showy lady’s slippers, or at the end of July for a chance to spot a dragon’s mouth orchid,” Webster says.
Another great option is the Hiking Club Trail at Rice Lake State Park. Step down the trail in early May for a forest floor brimming with spring blooms like trout lily, hepatica, and spring beauty. And if you return to the same trail in August, you will see prairie flowers like rattlesnake master, black-eyed Susan, purple coneflower, blazing star, and butterfly weed.
For socially distanced activities, the DNR has several on-your-own options, including outdoor exhibits at parks and along trails. “Interpretive exhibits, highlighting natural and cultural resources, are located throughout our parks and trails system at overlooks and other popular sites,” Webster says. “Participate in the Aquatic Quest geocaching program and collect cards highlighting Minnesota’s aquatic resources.
“Got kids, or are you a kid at heart? Print out a Junior Park Naturalist book at home and complete on your park visit,” Webster says.
Whatever activity suits you, Webster says to always plan ahead. “Make reservations and buy your permits in advance. If you buy a vehicle permit online, record your confirmation number and place it on your car’s dashboard,” Webster says. “Be prepared. Bring your own water and snacks. Follow the rules. Follow federal, state, and MDH/DNR guidelines. Observe cleaning protocols, follow directional signage and practice social distancing—even outdoors.”
The DNR is just beginning to plan its summer programming, so be sure to check back in April or May at mndnr.gov/ptcalendar.