Great River Bluffs State Park, Winona

4.5
#4 of 15 in Things to do in Winona
Great River Bluffs State Park is a state park of Minnesota, United States, on the Mississippi River southeast of Winona. Originally known as O. L. Kipp State Park, it was renamed in the late 1990s to describe better its resources. The park preserves steep-sided bluffs rising 500ft above the river and the narrow valleys between them, which support rare and fragile plant communities. Two of the bluffs have received further protection as King's and Queen's Bluff State Natural Area.GeologyThe region lies on sedimentary rock layers deposited on the floor of a shallow sea 500 million years ago. The lower, older layer is sandstone overlain by more recent dolomite rock. Much later a deep channel was carved into this stone by the ancient Mississippi River, which 10,000 years ago was greatly swollen from the melting glaciers to the north. The softer sandstone was eroded more easily, undercutting the dolomite on both banks of the river. The dolomite fractured off along vertical joints, leaving sheer rock faces still visible today. Side streams flowing into the Mississippi cut gullies into the river banks, creating a series of bluffs capped with erosion-resistant dolomite. Located in the Driftless Region of southeast Minnesota, the area was missed by the most recent Wisconsonian glaciation, and therefore is a region of deep river valleys dissecting the upland plains.
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Great River Bluffs State Park Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.0
76 reviews
Google
4.6
TripAdvisor
  • Great hiking and beautiful views!! Not too strenuous trails but good workout!! God's creation is AMAZING!!  more »
  • Lovely views over the river at short walk distance from the car parks. The fall colours were great and a bonus was the sighting of the two deer which walked across in front of us.  more »
  • We stopped in here to catch some views of the beautiful Mississippi River. After a few short trails, (we had our senior dog with us) we got to take some gorgeous photos. There were longer trails and c...  more »
Google
  • Though close to I-90 this place is off the beaten track. A narrow winding road leads to a picnic grove with ample parking, composting toilets, and drinking water. Short wooded trails lead to overlooks on a high bluff with impressive views of the Mississippi Valley below. Secluded wooded campground is also in this park. One star removed for the demand for a rather high fee ($7 for our out-of-state plate I recall), which was on honor system (no staff here on our visit) and required writing all sorts of information on an envelope before inserting it in a slot.
  • Some of the best views in the state, just the drive down to the park along the river was amazing. Trails were very clean as you'd expect, and although a little rocky at times none of the best views require going far up or down hill to see, though there did appear to be trails that went down the bluff for those looking for more of a hike. Much of the park was on top of the bluffs, making many of the main trails comfortable to walk on.
  • really liked this place. short hikes to the overlooks. campgrounds are spaced sufficiently apart. green and lush. well maintained from what I could see.
  • Beautiful seenre and great vews. Pretty good hikes and campground is nice.
  • Great views of the Mississippi River valley. RV sites are not quite level. Not for larger RVS as space to back in is tight.

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Where to stay in Winona

The main hotels in Winona sit to the southeast of the lake and by the intersection of Highways 61 and 14. Motels along the main roads are particularly popular with those on a wider tour of the area, while family-run bed and breakfasts in the residential areas in the north of town are a good idea for those looking to stay a little longer. Campgrounds to the east of the main urban area and on the islands in the river provide a welcome option for budget travelers.
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