The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will waive entrance fees to all 75 state parks and recreation areas Friday, November 25, which is the day after Thanksgiving.

The Minnesota DNR sponsors a “Free Park Day” four times each year in which the DNR waives the vehicle permit requirement to enter state parks and recreation areas. The DNR says the goal of Free Park Days is "to encourage Minnesotans to get outdoors and enjoy the health and wellness benefits of spending time in nature."

Furthermore, they note that according to the American Psychological Association, spending time in nature is linked to improved attention, lower stress, reduced risk of psychiatric disorders and even increased empathy and cooperation.

“Minnesota state parks and recreation areas are open year-round and provide places of peace and beauty to recharge during the hustle and bustle of the busy holiday season,” DNR Parks and Trails Division Director Ann Pierce said. “It’s a fantastic time to get out into nature with friends and family following Thanksgiving celebrations.”

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Since there’s a state park or recreation area within 30 miles of most Minnesotans, finding a place to visit is easy.

Free Park Days provide an opportunity to visit a state park or recreation area for the first time or return to an old favorite to discover something new.

The DNR says that because most state park offices and visitor centers will be lightly staffed on November 25, all visitors are encouraged to:

  • Check visitor alerts and find directions on state park pages via the DNR website.
  • Download GeoPDF maps before the trip. These maps will display a user’s current location, like other map applications, but the user does not have to be connected to the internet or have cell service to use them.
  • Visit the self-orientation signs near the park entrance for suggestions on what to see and do while visiting.
  • Help protect these special places for the future by staying on trails and leaving no trace.

The entrance fee waiver for fee-free days does not cover amenity or user fees for activities like camping, rentals, or special tours.

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