Frontenac State Park, Frontenac

#49 of 84 in Nature in Minnesota
Frontenac State Park is a state park of Minnesota, United States, on the Mississippi River 10mi southeast of Red Wing. The park is notable both for its history and for its birdwatching opportunities. The centerpiece of the park is a 430ft, 3mi steep limestone bluff overlooking Lake Pepin, a natural widening of the Mississippi. The bluff is variously called Garrard's Bluff or Point No-Point, the latter name coming from riverboat captains because of the optical illusion that it protruded into the Mississippi River. There is a natural limestone arch on the blufftop called In-Yan-Teopa, a Dakota name meaning "Rock With Opening". Park lands entirely surround the town of Frontenac, once a high-class resort at the end of the 19th century.GeologyThe limestone was laid down 500 million years ago as organic sediments settled to the bottom of a shallow sea that covered much of the Midwest. Much later Glacial River Warren carried torrents of runoff from the melting glaciers of the last ice age. Flowing out of Lake Agassiz, Glacial River Warren carved the Minnesota River valley and the Mississippi River Valley, leaving steep bluffs along the latter's banks. At times Glacial River Warren overflowed its bed and Garrard's Bluff would have been an island. The area is near the northern extreme of the Driftless Area of Minnesota, a region that remained unglaciated during the phases of the last ice age.
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Frontenac State Park Reviews
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42 reviews
  • I camped out in Frontenac as a spur of the moment 3 day weekend trip this past November. While most might think late November in Minnesota would be a cold difficult time to camp, I wouldn't have wante...  more »
  • The fact that this park is situated along the high bluffs of the Mississippi River in the area just north of Lake Pepin warrants a visit. The network of trails along the bluff, etched into the slopes ...  more »
  • Family hike in Frontenac State Park was the perfect Family Adventure! Ten of us ages 19-58 enjoy the views, the great trails & great exercise. Smiles all around! Park Ranger's were helpful & fun - vol...  more »
  • Camp here with a larger group every year, at least once a year. The amenities are great, the staff is helpful and respectful, and it's just a plain nice place to be. Many nights sat around the campfire looking at the stars without much light pollution. If you leave your campsite there are also some places to get great views of the river and nature.
  • The park isn't the biggest, but it has some pretty compelling features. First, it is situated in beautiful Southeast MN. Rolling hills abound and you are close to Red Wing. There are some nice camping options here, including pack in, regular, group and I think there is even canoe up options. The best part is the bluff trail, however. These bluffs are steep and impressive. Best to check conditions, however. They close the trail when covered with snow and ice, which around here is often.
  • Great views from the bluffs. The hiking trail, if you take the loop of the upper and lower bluff trail, is no joke! Lots of great scenic stops, can go down by the water as well...then when it's time to head back up, you will get in a serious workout! I have never found this park or this trail to be busy, and rarely find another person. Usually I'm one of two or three cars in the lot. While I do love a peaceful hike with the dog, it is depressing that more people aren't out enjoying the wonderful state parks that MN has to offer!!
  • This place is great. I lived in Rochester all my life and never knew it was here! the easter trails are very strenuous so keep that in mind.
  • Our family stayed 2 nights in one of the backpacking sites. I was a little concerned how my children would feel about this, but they have been asking to camp all summer so we went for it. The walk to our site was 1 mile each way, but once we got there were surprised to discover the site included: a picnic table, fire pit, pit toilet with toilet paper, and access to rental canoes. On the way home our children (ages 4-10) asked to do it again, so we can consider our experience a success.
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