BEST PUBLIC PARK Minneapolis 2006 - Fort Snelling State Park
101 Snelling Lake Road
St. Paul, MN 55111
This has got to be the only park in the state—in the country?—where you can fish for carp, golf, tour a historical frontier outpost with a costumed guide, bike along a sandstone bluff, learn about maple syruping, cross-country ski, sit in for Sunday chapel, and play rugby. Granted, no single person is likely to enjoy all those activities. And, to be truthful, the breadth of recreation on offer may be less appealing than the geography of the place itself. Straddling the meeting of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers, Fort Snelling State Park offers quiet islands, muddy lakes, rolling bluffs, and manicured fields. This is not a manufactured park by Frederick Olmstead, with carefully designed carriageways and footpaths. Rather it's a haphazard mix-and-mash: the spot where the U.S. 5th Regiment of Infantry laid up in 1819, amid Ojibwe villages, Canadian fur traders, and farmers. The remnants of that convergence can be hard to find. The walls of the old fort are ringed by highways, the old polo grounds flanked by abandoned barracks, the waterways clotted with speeding pleasure boats, and the skies clogged with 757s. A happier way of putting it is that Fort Snelling is a living park—the seed for the mega-metro that sprouted up around it.