When the stay-at-home order ended, I couldn’t think of a better place to go than Minneapolis where my youngest son would be celebrating his 24th birthday!! I got on the road at 3:00pm just after work, feeling a little tired, but excited by the journey ahead. The afternoon sun was warm and the skies were clear. I had a 12-speed Centurion strapped to a borrowed bike rack, a cooler with some snacks, and a fold-out foam mattress wrapped in a floral print sheet at the ready.
From my home in Indianapolis, it’s technically a 9.5 – 10-hour drive to Minneapolis. I, of course, driving on my own, will never make it in that. I have to account for pit stops and photo ops. I had until noon the next day, so there wasn’t any rush. That first day, I made it about halfway and stopped at a rest area in Rockford Illinois just short of the Wisconsin border. It was 8:30 pm and I was toast. I couldn’t drive another mile.
The next day, the pouring rain accompanied me the rest of the way to Minneapolis. Not great for driving, but a bonus for me and my son’s first excursion together, Minnehaha Falls.
Despite the wild nature of this particular falls, it isn’t hard to find! Minnehaha Regional Park is located right in the heart of Minneapolis, about five miles south from downtown. The falls are located on Minnehaha Creek near the creek’s confluence with the Mississippi River, near Fort Snelling.
The Minnehaha Regional Park was designed in 1883 to allow tourists to view the falls easily. Stairs with handrails allow visitors to get close to the falls without endangering themselves. Concrete walls retain the sides of the creek bank and help prevent erosion. In essence, it’s very accessible to anyone, and stats suggest the falls receive about 850,000 visitors each year.
Maybe because it was a Monday, we had no issue with overcrowding. We took the stairs down to the base of the falls first. The recent rains fueled the force of the water, so alive and powerful as it rushed past and over huge boulders in the creek. Feeling the overspray of the falls is always an exhilarating experience for me!!
Below the falls, if you follow the path of the creek, you eventually come to a widening where the water slows down and provides a soothing spot to wade in on a hot day. But it’s still very much Spring here in Minneapolis so there’ll be no feet in the water today!!
An important thing to remember when you’re visiting natural areas is to try to respect the directions the park provides for safe viewing. Stay to designated paths whenever possible. Parks like Minnehaha, with literally thousands of visitors each month, are very prone to erosion.
When you add the turbulent and powerful nature of rushing water, the surrounding landscape is vulnerable. Parks do their best to try to keep plants growing to hold the land and support structures in place so people can continue to enjoy these amazing geological features, literally for free. It’s important that we do our part and help them!
Minimize your impact wherever you can. And help your kids learn this valuable lesson early. When you visit public parks, city, state, or national, respect the space so others can visit too!