The park and waterfall are very pretty. The bison will walk right up to your vehicle for some great photos! Our campsite was loud however. Trains and vehicles flying by all night. The campground was clean and you have space between your neighbors!
This campground is definitely an awesome spot to spend the night. We arrived there around sundown, and set up camp in the spot we reserved. The view was absolutely beautiful over the hills, with the forest giving us cover from the bright sun rays in the a.m. Slight warning though, if you aren’t an early riser the sun might not be a problem but the railroad is right behind most of the sites and we did hear a couple trains go by. We headed out early in the morning, unfortunately too early to drive through the bison range but we did stop to see the beautiful waterfall on the other side of the highway exiting the campsite. Would 100% come again, and hopefully check out the range. Side note, drive slowly on the gravel road we saw a lot of little bunnies and they hop everywhere regardless of cars!
This is a decent park but the sites aren't too far off the road and many back up to rail tracks with the sound of passing trains day and night.
There is an active herd of bison on the park grounds. They are fenced off from the rest of the park with enough prairie land that you don't always see them.
There are surrounding parks and bike trails that make for nice day trips along the Minnesota River Valley. For a newer park, I would have hoped that they would have taken more care to lay out the campsites to offer a quieter and more private camp setting.
We visited Minneopa state park because a) I love hiking b) I’m trying to get as much state park time in before the summer hordes descend and c) my back is dying from working at home out of a dining room chair so I preordered an office chair for curbside pickup at an office store which is on the way home from this park.
Minneopa is a unique state park. A River Runs Through it. So does a train(choo chooo). And a neighborhood(kind of). If you have never visited the park before you need to decide what you are going to prioritize first because all of a sudden there are two different park road signs pointing you to either turn left or right depending on what you want to do.
One direction is the waterfall part. It is a nice waterfall. The parking lot is right by the waterfall- so it is very accessible for people who are unable to hike to a lot of waterfalls. However, because the parking lot is RIGHT THERE it isn’t the most rewarding waterfall that I’ve been to, it’s kind of like a less impressive Minnehaha. On this trip we didn’t visit the waterfall because it’s plague time and I figured that it might be busy. Tip: On the weekends get to state parks as early as possible during social distancing time! Most people don’t roll out of bed at 6 am like we did, so it will be fairly easy to socially distance yourself. We got there at 8 and only encountered 4 other hikers that were just heading out when we were almost back to our car.
The other direction is the BISON DRIVE. Yes, you can actually drive amongst bison if the road is open. It wasn’t on our trip on 4/10/2020 because the road conditions are still gross from the winter thaw. Instead we hiked the entire loop(I think it’s 3.3 miles) because it goes around the entire bison enclosure, and I wanted to guarantee that I would see me some bison.
Other highlights about this section of the park are the views of the magnificent Minnesota river, an old windmill(the blades are gone), and the campground is also situated here. This section isn’t as popular as the waterfall section, as evidenced by the relatively small parking lot. The hike was enjoyable while we were there- if it is a hot hot day you might want to just do the Minnesota River Bluff Trail for the shade- the Seppman Mill trail is exposed and you can drive and park at the mill.
As I mentioned before there is also an access point to drive into the bison enclosure. We were able to see the bison herd once we got to the mill area, unfortunately for my photos the bison were just far enough away that I didn’t get a quality photo.
Now onto the campground. Loop A is superior for tent camping in every which way, unless you happen to want electricity or want to rent the cabin which is in loop B. Loop A has trees, large sites, a bathroom, and several sites have awesome views of the river. One thing to keep in mind is that the sites on the outside of the loop are much more private and have way more trees- the inner loop is relatively open in comparison and would be good sites to choose if you are group camping. I would be prepared with lots of bug spray and a screenhouse if you are camping here in the worst of mosquito season- there was quite a bit of standing water and swampy pond nearby.
Site notes(see pics/videos): A2 is nice and spacious, but next to the swampy water
A4 is the immediate neighbor and is distinctive because it’s up on a hill
A3 is on the inner loop and is visible to the road, but I liked it anyway
A5 is a nice spacious site on the inner loop that is less private, I’m pretty sure A19 butts up behind it if you are looking to get a few sites
A12 is the type of site that I would love to camp at- view of the gulley and of the river
A14 is the site that you need to reserve a year in advance if this campground were more popular- amazing location with a spectacular view of the river
A24 also has a good river view
A26 is large and has some badass oak trees
The B Loop is weird- a lot of the campsites don’t seem to even have space for a 2 person tent unless you are ok with not having a campfire(or burning down your tent). If you have a tiny scamp you might be ok?
Site notes: B3 is a good pull-through site for an RV
The cabin is here! It has a screen porch and a propane tank for heating it in cold weather! Also has a decent view of the river- inside is just some bunk beds and a table. There is a pit toilet next to it that I’m guessing other campsites use too.
B20 is definitely the best site in the loop for tent camping- I actually would camp at this one.
There are also 4 group campsites that could probably fit 2-3 tents on them that are only a short hike-in from the parking area. Nice pit toilets are nearby. Minneopa is definitely either a nice day trip or camping trip from the Twin Cities! I was extra pleased that the drive down 169 is interesting- the terrain is beautiful, there are some really random touristy places and showrooms(giant yellow barn/extended structure that is without a doubt indeed Minnesota’s Largest Candy Store), and driving through Saint Peter is a nice old-timey experience.
Such a beautiful park with so much to offer, located practically downtown Mankato in a river valley, you get the delight of being 10 minutes from a great brewery!
The waterfalls are an easy walk from your car but the real treat is the bison range! When we visited the bison herd was right near the front gate so we didn’t even have to drive very far to have bison surrounding our car. But stay in your car! These bad boys can easily crush you so drive cautiously and respectfully!
Our campsite was very wooded but beautiful!
Everything you expect from a state park.
After reading all of the wonderful reviews, I was a little underwhelmed. Perhaps it is because we arrived after a rainy period. Many of the sites in the A Loop were flooded or muddy and there was only one site occupied. B Loop was a bit better and there were a few more people there. Some sites in the A Loop overlook the river valley through trees but they are directly over railroad tracks so you will hear loud trains. No flush toilets but for pits (A Loop has sinks and a shower), reasonably clean. However I would not choose sites closeby because the fans are quite loud. Bison viewing road was cool and leads to the rebuilt granary (all that remains from a mill). Waterfall (across the street and about a mile from campground) is nice. Unless you hike the Minnesota River Bluff trail, you could easily see the bison, granary, and waterfalls in half a day, making this good for just a one night stay.
After Seeing the Buffalo in South Dakota I just had to go see them again somewhere but South Dakota was too far away. Maybe open a state park offers a ton of things to do with seeing the Buffalo along the road
I have visited here a few times before. However, this time I was able to camp overnight on a trek toward Minneapolis. Another relatively small campground, but well shaded and ample spacing between sites. I unhitched the trailer and immediately headed for the Bison drive. Took a leisurely ride to Seppman Mill and was able to view the buffalo on the return trip. The next morning, I headed out early to geocache 2 other State Parks in the area. Electric sites, fill up your water holding tank and dump your tanks upon leaving. Be sure the enjoy the Minneopa Falls located in another part of the park. Oh yea, the park is split and divided by a highway and a railroad. Just don't miss both the waterfalls and the Bison drive/Mill.
Campgrounds are somewhat private and pretty standard for a state park. the waterfalls are beautiful. The drIve through the bison herd area was really cool! would highly recommend. the hiker’s club trail was mostly prairie and some wooded areas and mostly flat. A really nice park.