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Flooding shuts down most of Fort Snelling State Park

Significant parts of the popular outdoor spot are closed off due to spring flooding at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers.
Credit: MN DNR
Major parts of popular Fort Snelling State Park are closed due to spring 2020 flooding.

FORT SNELLING, Minn. — Flooding caused by rising waters at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers is again wreaking havoc with one of the state's busiest parks. 

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced Thursday that significant areas of Fort Snelling State Park have been closed due to flooding. 

Most facilities within the park, which is extremely popular with hikers, bikers, and birders, are now closed and key park locations, including Picnic Island and Pike Island, are not accessible. Various trails are underwater and the main park road is currently closed just past the beach, limiting parking options and park access.

“We know how eager folks are to get outside and do their social distancing in nature now that spring has finally arrived, so reducing access in response to seasonal flooding is particularly difficult this year,” said Fort Snelling State Park manager Nadine Meyer. “But our first priority is ensuring the safety of the public and our staff, so these are steps we have to take.”

As with all state parks, accessible portions of Fort Snelling State Park remain open for day use during Gov. Tim Walz’s Stay at Home order.

This is not exactly new ground for the riverside recreational spot: Fort Snelling State Part was closed from March to September of 2019 after spring flooding caused serious damage to roads, buildings and infrastructure. It was a serious hit to park users and tourists, as the state park draws an annual 400,000 visitors, many of them during the spring and summer months. 

Other recreational facilities around the state also have been impacted by melting snow, heavy rain and flooding. Some roads and trails in state forests, state parks, recreation areas, and wildlife management areas will be closed temporarily because they are not firm enough to support vehicle traffic without causing permanent damage.

The DNR says some spring flooding and thaw-related closures could remain in effect until sometime in May, depending on weather conditions. People are urged to check the DNR’s closure webpage for current conditions before visiting.

During the Stay at Home order, visitors to state parks and other public recreation lands are urged to follow these guidelines. 

  • Stay as close to home as possible.
  • Practice social distancing (stay at least 6 feet from people from other households).
  • Explore the range of nearby public lands available to avoid over-loading busy areas.
  • Visit early or late in the day, when there are fewer people.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Stay home if sick.

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