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First Free Park Day of 2024 at Minnesota state parks and recreation areas is Jan. 15

Minnesotans are encouraged to try winter outdoor recreation.

The Minnesota Department of Nat­ural Resources is waiving vehicle permit fees at all 75 state parks and recreation areas on Monday, Jan. 15.

With this year’s unusual weather, it’s good to know there are many winter park activities that don’t re­quire snow or ice, such as birding, winter hiking, nature photography, and having a campfire with hot chocolate and s’mores.

And, if sufficient snow arrives be­fore Jan. 15, visitors can also par­take in popular winter activities like sledding, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. Most parks offer snowshoe rentals, and select parks offer ski rentals. Visitors looking for rental equipment or certain recreational opportunities can use the ParkFinder tool (mnd­nr.gov/parkfinder) to find the best park for their trip.

The DNR recommends visitors wear clothing appropriate for the weather, and bring water and snacks. If trails could be icy, trac­king devices for footwear are use­ful.

This “Free Park Day” is one of four days each year on which the DNR waives the requirement for a vehicle permit at state parks and recreation areas. There is one fee-free day for each season of the year, giving Minnesotans a free of charge opportunity to experience the parks and recreation areas at different times of the year.

Four free park days are scheduled for Minnesota state parks and rec­reation areas in 2024 including:

Monday, Jan. 15
Saturday, April 27
Saturday, June 8
Friday, Nov. 29

“Minnesota state parks and recre­ation areas are open 365 days per year, but some visitors only visit in summer,” said Ann Pierce, direc­tor of the DNR Parks and Trails Division. “We hope having a free day in each season will encourage people to get out and visit a park at a time of year they might not nor­mally visit.”

Visitors are advised to check for updates in the visitor alert section of individual park webpages (mndnr.gov/parks) before leaving home. Visitors may also download free maps from park webpages, which can be used in the free Avenza Maps app, available in the Apple App Store or Google Play. Visitors who prefer a paper map can pick one up at the ranger station; look outside the station if it’s closed when you arrive.

The entrance fee waiver for free days does not cover ameni­ties or user fees for activities like camping or equipment rentals.

For more information, visit the DNR’s Free Park Days web page. (mndnr.gov/freeparkdays).

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