Description - Just minutes from the Twin Cities, this state recreation area preserves part of the Minnesota River Valley. The Minnesota Valley Trail links Fort Snelling State Park and units of the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge to waysides and other public lands. The area is ideal for hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, mountain biking, and snowmobiling. The landscapes are just as diverse as the trail system, and include wetlands, floodplain forest, and blufftop oak savanna. Wildlife observation and birdwatching are popular activities year-round.
- Raccoons, mink, muskrat, wood duck, and beaver are some of the animals that benefit from the protection of the river valley habitats. Hundreds of thousands of song birds and waterfowl are attracted to the extensive wetlands in the valley as they make their annual migrations through the valley flyway. Along the trails in upland areas you may see white-tail deer, rabbits, squirrels, or red and grey fox.
The Minnesota River Valley is a rich mosaic of plant and animal communities. The valley holds floodplain marshes, wet meadows, fens, and lakes. These wetlands are maintained by the river and by the spring-fed streams draining from the base of the bluffs. The hillsides and bluffs support oak forest and oak savanna remnants. They offer outstanding scenic overlooks. As the seasons unfold, you will find spring wildflowers, fall colors, abundant wildlife, and the every-changing river landscape.
Recreation - The area is ideal for hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, mountain biking, and snowmobiling. The landscapes are just as diverse as the trail system, and include wetlands, floodplain forest, and blufftop oak savanna. Wildlife observation and birdwatching are popular activities year-round.
Climate - Minnesota lies so far north that winter is the longest season of the year. There are many recreation pursuits to enjoy during this season, but be sure to dress appropriately so that you can enjoy them. Temperatures often dip below freezing during winter and the state receives an average of 50 to 60 inches of snow. Spring, summer and fall can be very wet and rain gear will be necessary for travel during these seasons. Spring and fall tend to be shortened with variable weather, due to long winters, but offer less crowded trails and campgrounds. Summer temperatures average between 70 and 85 degrees F. Night time temperatures dip near 55 and a light jacket is recommended. July and August are the height of the tourist season.