MANKATO — This weekend is shaping up to be a good time to spend at Minneopa State Park, despite the closure of most of the park’s buildings and cancellation of organized activities.
Views of the rural Mankato park’s waterfalls and walks along its trails can provide respite from thinking about the anxiety-producing COVID-19 outbreak.
“People should get outside and enjoy themselves. They just need to remember to stay safe and adhere to some social distance guidelines,” said Chris Niskanen, the DNR’s communications director.
Hikers seeking natural beauty along a path may look up to see flying above them nesting pairs of bald eagles or flocks of geese.
“It’s a hot time for bird migration,” Niskanen said.
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the agency that oversees state parks, recreation areas, campsites and public lands, recently made several adjustments to act in accordance with state health officials’ recommendations for preventing the spread of coronavirus.
The advice includes that people not congregate in large groups.
Although they may not be leading hikes or offering nature programs until the pandemic ends, park employees will be on the grounds, Niskanen said. He expects the Minneopa experience should be close to normal this weekend.
“Our staff is here. The state parks are open.”
There’s no need for vehicles with park passes to stop before they enter the park. Minneopa’s bison road is closed to traffic this time of year; however, the bison often can be observed near a gated entrance.
The Minneopa Creek Confluence Trail will be closed until a construction project is completed.
Running water is not available in the park at this time because water lines have been shut off for the winter. Minneopa’s vault toilets are available for use.
The DNR’s website and social media channels address several questions the public may have about visiting Minnesota’s 67 state parks in the near future.
• Park bathrooms, vault toilets and shower buildings that are currently open will remain open with increased cleaning protocols.
• The public is urged to use online and telephone reservation systems and to email or phone to request information from the DNR’s Information Center.
For more information, contact the center at (651) 296-6157 or 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Emails may be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org.