Popular Minnesota state parks working to keep the crowds in the future

The surge in park popularity has coincided with a broader interest in getting outside

Gooseberry Falls State Park's elusive "Fifth Falls" circa July 2010. Matthew R. Perrine/Budgeteer News

Gooseberry Falls State Park's elusive "Fifth Falls" circa July 2010. Matthew R. Perrine/Budgeteer News

TWO HARBORS, Minn. — One of the best places to see just how popular some Minnesota state parks have become is Gooseberry Falls State Park, along the North Shore of Lake Superior, where the Gooseberry River cascades over a series of dramatic drops just a short walk from the highway.

More than 750,000 people visited the park last year alone. On a hot summer day last week, tourists took off their shoes and splashed in the pool below the falls, scrambled along rock ledges and snapped selfies.

Marcus Ervin drove up from Duluth for the day with his family.

"Oh, it's beautiful, it's peaceful, the family loved it," said Ervin, who was taking advantage of one of the first warm days of the year along the shore of Lake Superior.

"This gave us something different than just being in the city," he said. "Mother Nature, you know? That's what we came for."

All those people seeking out Mother Nature create some challenges at Gooseberry, said park manager Audrey Butts. The parking lot fills up quickly on busy days.

And solitude can be hard to come by.

"A lot of people want to get out and be the only one in the park, but unfortunately since there's so many people, it does get kind of crowded," said Grace Hill, park operations supervisor. 

For full article, go to: Echo Press

Source, image(s), credits & more: Echo Press | Dan Kraker / Minnesota Public Radio