|Glendalough State Park|
Glendalough State Park, located in Otter Tail County near Battle Lake, showcases over nine miles of shoreline on six unique lakes. The park is 1,931 acres in size. The park was donated to the Nature Conservancy on Earth Day in 1990, and subsequently deeded to the Minnesota Department of Natural...
Itasca State Park
|Description: Minnesota’s oldest state park, Itasca was established in 1891. The park is over 32, 000 acres and there are 100 lakes included in the park, as well as the Headwaters of the Mississippi River. The park contains some of Minnesota’s best examples of 100-300 year old old-growth red and white pine forests, as well as lakes, bogs and ponds.|
Wildlife to Watch: Loons and bald eagles make their homes in the park. Osprey and turkey vultures can also be seen. One of the birding highlights of the park is viewing the spring songbird migration. Twenty-eight species of warblers have been sighted at the park. The park species list exceeds 200 species, with 139 species nesting there. The variety and quality of habitats, as well as a wealth of observers, has resulted in a large and varied bird list for the park.
Some of the birds you can watch for are great blue herons, wood ducks, hooded mergansers, red-tailed hawks, northern goshawks, ruffed grouse, black-backed and pileated woodpeckers, ruby-throated hummingbirds, scarlet tanagers, gray jays, brown creepers, red-eyed vireos, wood and hermit thrushes, northern parulas, ovenbirds and evening grosbeaks.
The park is also home to 53 species of mammals. You might run across a deer, black bear, beaver, northern flying squirrel, porcupine, river otter, fisher, bobcat, timber wolf or raccoon.
While at Lake Itasca, take a moment to search for reptiles and amphibians like red-bellied snakes, blue-spotted salamanders, spring peepers and wood frogs.
Plant species of note are large-flowered trillium, pitcher plants, high bush cranberries and American mountain ash. You can also look for the park’s 27 different species of orchids.
Special Tips: Bird species diversity is greater during summer season, but the park is open all year. If you’re most interested in birding, visit the park between mid-May and July. Fall is also a treat, with both fall migration and the flaming red maples. Look for gray jays and black-backed woodpeckers in the winter.
Itasca State Park Bird Checklist can be found
Check out the naturalist programs and other activities scheduled at the park that are offered throughout all seasons, with many programs focusing on the unique wildlife to the park.
Campsites can be reserved through the centralized reservation service by calling
1-866-85PARKS (1-866-857-2757) or online at
Other Activities: The Itasca Wilderness Sanctuary, located within the park, Wilderness Drive, the Bohall Wilderness Trail and the Headwaters of the Mississippi are all “must sees” in the park.
Lake Alice bog, located two miles east of the park along County Road 3, is a spruce and tamarack bog where you’ll see Connecticut warblers, gray jays; along with, olive-sided, yellow-bellied and alder flycatchers.
Another excellent spot to watch birds is the Deer Park Trail, which runs along small lakes inhabited by kingfishers, yellow warblers and ospreys. Large maple, birch and basswood grow in this transitional area.
You’ll also want to see an important archaeological area called the Itasca bison kill site, Lake Itasca’s forestry demonstration station and the two new visitor’s centers.
Ownership: MN DNR
Size: 32,000+ acres
Closest Town: Park Rapids
Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing: