DayTripper is supported by its audience. When you purchase though links on our site, we may earn a small commission. It doesn’t cost you anything additional. I never promote things I haven’t vetted myself.
Welcome to the beautiful Great River Bluffs State Park in Minnesota. This state park is a treasure trove of scenic overlooks and outdoor adventure. The region’s unique geology, wildlife, and recreational opportunities make it a perfect destination for a weekend adventure.
Sitting just outside of Winona MN, this park has been on my radar for some time. With a long weekend trip to Lake Louise, we made sure to take a quick detour to Great Rivers Bluff State Park to see it if for ourselves.
About Great River Bluffs State Park
What is Great River Bluffs State Park?
Great River Bluffs State Park is a nature preserve located in the heart of southern Minnesota, near the city of Winona.
The park is known for its stunning bluffs, which offer breathtaking views of the Mississippi River valley. The park covers over 2,700 acres and is home to a variety of flora and fauna
What is the history of Great River Bluffs State Park?
Initially, the park went by the name O.L. Kipp State Park. It was named after Orin Lansing Kipp. Kipp had a successful 41-year career with the Highway Department of Minnesota and played a significant role in shaping the state’s highway system.
In response to public demand for parkland along the Mississippi River, the Minnesota State Legislature established the park as a narrow strip of land along the highway, one mile north of LaCrescent in 1963.
No lands were purchased for the park, and it was relocated to its current location in 1971. Th park didn’t officially opened to the public in 1976 and is now managed by the Parks and Trails Division.
In 1997, the Minnesota State Legislature renamed the park, Great River Bluffs State Park to reflect the park’s resources better.
Where is Great River Bluffs State Park located?
Great River Bluffs State Park is located in southeastern Minnesota, southeast of Winona. The park is easily accessible by state highways and county roads, which provide convenient access to the park entrance. You’ll access the park from the west.
The park has views of southeast Minnestoa, and Wisconsin.
What is the geology of the bluffs in the park?
The bluffs in Great River Bluffs State Park are composed primarily of limestone and sandstone. These formations were created over millions of years as erosion and weathering wore away the surrounding soil and exposed the underlying rock layers.
The resulting bluffs are some of the most stunning and unique in the region, offering visitors a one-of-a-kind view of the Mississippi River valley.
Camping at the Park
Is there a campground at Great River Bluffs State Park?
Yes, there is a campground located within Great River Bluffs State Park. The campground features a range of campsites, including tent camping, RV camping, and backpacking sites.
The campground also offers a range of amenities, including showers, flush toilets, and picnic tables. There are 31 back in sites, 4 cart-in sites, and 5 bike-in sites. The RV limit is 60 feet. I would stick with a camper about half the size as the road can get kind of tight.
The sites are very private.
How can I reserve a campsite at the park?
You can reserve a campsite at Great River Bluffs State Park by visiting the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website. Reservations are recommended, especially during peak season, as campsites can fill up quickly.
What amenities are available at the campground?
The Great River Bluffs State Park campground offers a range of amenities, including showers, flush toilets, and picnic tables. They have flush toilets and shows, but no dump station.
Trails and Hiking at Great River Bluffs State Park
What are some hiking trails to explore at the park?
Great River Bluffs State Park has 6 miles of trails, ranging from easy to difficult. The trails offer visitors a chance to explore the park’s unique geology and wildlife, as well as providing stunning views of the Mississippi River Valley.
Some of the most popular trails include the King’s Bluff Trail, South Overlook, and the East Overlook Trail
Are there any scenic overlooks along the hiking trails?
Yes, there are several scenic overlooks located along the hiking trails in Great River Bluffs State Park. It is one best state park features.
These overlooks offer breathtaking views of the Mississippi River Valley. You’ll also be able to see the park’s unique geology and wildlife. Some of the most popular overlooks include the bluff overlook and the valley overlook.
What wildlife can be observed on the trails?
Great River Bluffs State Park is home to a diverse array of wildlife, including white-tailed deer, wild turkey, coyote, and fox. The park is also a popular destination for birdwatchers, with over 100 species of birds calling the park home.
Visitors to the park’s hiking trails can expect to encounter a variety of wildlife, from small mammals to large birds of prey.
Are there Winter Trails in Great River Bluffs State Park?
Yes, Great River Bluffs State Park has three miles of groomed cross country ski trails. They are considered intermediate level cross-country ski trails.
You can also snowshoe to the scenic overlooks overlooking the Mississippi River bluffs.
Great River Bluffs State Park Hiking Club Trail
Miles: 2.5 miles
Total Miles Hiked: 168.6 miles
The Great River Bluffs State Park Hiking Club Trail is a shorter 2.4 miles trail. From the parking lot, take the trail up a gradual climb to the Kings Bluff Overlook. This trail is mostly undercover, proving some relief from the heat.
My son and I were able to complete this trail in about an hour. The trial is wide and follows the top of the ridgeline with steep slopes on either side.
At the end of the trial, you’ll be treated with a stunning overlook of the valley. It will take your breath away. The end of the trial is the only open section. It was a good 10-degree difference.
Do I need a permit to enter Great River Bluffs State Park?
Yes, visitors to Great River Bluffs State Park are required to have a valid park permit. These permits can be obtained online or in-person at the park entrance.
How can I obtain a park permit?
Park permits for Great River Bluffs State Park can be obtained online or in-person at the park entrance. Visitors can purchase a daily permit or an annual permit, depending on their needs.
What types of permits are available for state parks in Minnesota?
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources offers a range of permits for visitors to state parks in Minnesota. These include daily permits, annual permits, and vehicle permits. Visitors can also purchase permits for specific activities, such as camping, fishing, and hunting.
How far in advance can I make a reservation at MN State Parks?
You can make reservation 120 days before the start of your arrival. Reservations can be made for up to two weeks. If the site is not occupied by 11:00 am on the day after the scheduled date of arrival, the reservation may be canceled.
Recreation and Activities
What other recreational activities are available at the park?
In addition to hiking and camping, Great River Bluffs State Park offers a range of other recreational activities. These include fishing, boating, and cross-country skiing.
The park is also a popular destination for picnicking, with several picnic areas located throughout the park.
Are RVs allowed in the park?
Yes, RVs are allowed in Great River Bluffs State Park. The park features a campground with a range of camping options, including RV sites.
Is there access to the Mississippi River at the park?
No, the Mississippi River can be seen at several points throughout the park. But the river is across the highway from the park. There is no official access to the river.