I’m back again with more Minnesota State Park recaps. It’s been a while since I’ve posted about my travels but that has mostly been because when I’m not tethered to my kitchen table/work-from-home desk, I’ve been on the road seeing new parts of Minnesota and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
A few weeks ago…or is it months ago?…time has lost all meaning….anyway, sometime earlier this summer, I had plans to meet some friends in Wisconsin for socially-distant camping but received notice from the Wisconsin DNR that their campgrounds wouldn’t be open yet. I then hopped on to Minnesota DNR’s camping reservation system and learned that 38 of the 67 state parks were opening for camping on June 1st. We chose Monson Lake State Park on the western side of the state, about 2 hours from Minneapolis and 60 miles from the South Dakota border. Out of 67 State Parks in Minnesota, Monson is the 11th smallest. It’s small size is actually what made it so great.
Monson Lake State Park
Here’s what you need to know before visiting Monson Lake State Park:
It’s in the middle of absolute no where and there are only 20 campsites that didn’t all fill up the weekend we visited. The showers and bathrooms weren’t open and there was no firewood for sale or canoes to rent. But who really “needs” a shower when you’re sleeping outside.
There is one short hiking trail that wasn’t very well maintained but the main attraction at this State Park is its lakes; Monson, West Sunburg and East Sunburg. We spent some time fishing off of the pier but mostly just hung out at our campsite and watched some gorgeous sunsets from shore. The lack of “activities” forced us to relax instead of the constant go-go-go that we tend to do when we have limited time at a location.
Sibley State Park
Monson Lake State Park is managed by nearby and much larger Sibley State Park. Sibley is where they recommend you purchase your firewood from to camp at Monson. The campground at Sibley State Park was closed at the time but it was only about a 15 minute drive from Monson.
We parked at the visitor center (which was also closed) and hiked the 3.3 mile loop to the peak of Mt. Tom. It was a great trail and there were a few outlooks that provide views of the surprisingly hilly terrain. At the top of the mountain is a large viewing deck. You could see for miles! I learned that this whole area is a chain of lakes and marshes formed by a glacier 11,000 years ago.
After we were good and sweaty from the hike, we headed over to Lake Andrew for a swim. The beach wasn’t technically dog friendly but we kept off to the side and no one seemed bothered by our 10 year old sweetheart.
Monson Lake and Sibley State Parks are definitely ones I would visit again. We now own a foldable, stow-able canoe (blog post to come on that) and Monson Lake would be perfect for paddling around and fishing.
I hope you all are doing well and staying safe. <3