BEST PLACE TO CAMP (2003)

Whitewater State Park

After spring fever, most Minnesota campers follow a single overpowering migratory instinct: Head North! And yet more than a flock of stray birds find popular refuge in the southeastern tip of the state along a relatively unknown river. Nestled into deep ravines and between spectacular limestone bluffs, Whitewater State Park offers the camper a setting unique even within the natural splendor of Minnesota. Twenty-five miles due east of Rochester, along the surging Whitewater River, the 2,700 acre preserve is larger than some of the state's more acclaimed parks; it also boasts some of the best trout fishing around and some excellent hiking trails of varying difficulty. Whether you have an eye for bald eagles, spring wildflowers, or any number of the state's rare mammals and plants, you're likely to spot them. The park is open all year and has more than 100 drive-in camping sites, as well as a few spots off the tire-beaten grounds. The park's popularity swells with the summer heat, so you'll want to make reservations for weekends between June and September.

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