Wednesday, May 30, 2018

MN State Parks: Mystery Cave

When you have kids, camping can be a great way to explore nature.

Most people who aren't campers think a tent is too much work. I'm not going to lie, those first years we came home with lists of things we forgot, and over time have dialed in our camping routine. 

Located in Southern MN, near the bike trails of Lansboro, and in the heart of Amish county. Mystery Cave State Park offers visitors a picturesque retreat. Even though we were several hours from home, we still managed to run into people we knew from back home!

We've found that MN state park campgrounds are a great way to explore. Online booking makes it easy to choose a campsite that fits your needs. Most have nicely maintained bathrooms, the rest are slated for remodels in the near future. We saw staff cleaning the bathrooms daily, and the on site campground host was friendly.

This park has DNR staff and interns that conduct educational programs during the summer months. We spent an hour in the stream cooling off from the afternoon heat and identifying water bugs that indicated the health of the stream.

In addition to learning about waterbugs, we attended sunset seminars on lightening bugs (did you know they are actually beetles?) and frogs and toads. Later in the summer we were able to identify a banjo frog we encountered while kayaking. Make the most of your trip and visit over the 4th of July, when neighboring Forestville has special events.

Also be sure to tour the Mystery Cave that this park is named after.

Did I mention it was hot? The stream that flows through the park goes through these underground caves and maintains a cool temperature. It was nice to dip our toes during the heat of the afternoon. We also decided to sleep without the rain fly to improve airflow. In addition to airflow we also gained an impressive view of the night sky.

When booking campsites electric always goes the fastest, so if you can go off grid you'll have better luck finding a camp sight. The bathrooms have power for a quick charge or air mattress blow up.

Our kids don't spend enough time outside so it took awhile to get rid of the I'm bored while camping. Stick with it though. I now see my kids playing/exploring something that they learned from one of the many rangers we've encountered in the state parks. When was the last time you fell asleep looking at the stars?

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