Minneopa State Park is a state park in Minnesota, United States, located on the south shore of Mankato Lake. The park features the Minneopa Falls, a two-stage waterfall that drops 92 feet (28 m). The park also includes a visitor center, camping, fishing, and hiking opportunities.
The park was established in 1906 as a result of the efforts of the Minneapolis and St. Louis Railway to create a recreational destination along its rail line. The park was originally called “Mankato Falls Park” after the nearby waterfall and was managed by the railway company. In 1924, the state of Minnesota assumed management of the park. The park’s name was changed to “Minneopa State Park” in 1941, and the first formal state campground was established.
The Minneopa Creek drops about 92 feet (28 m) over two cascades as it flows through the park on its way to Mankato Lake. The upper cascade drops 30 feet (9 m) in an amphitheater-like setting. The lower cascade drops 62 feet (19 m), landing in a small gorge. The creek enters Mankato Lake at the foot of the upper falls, just above the railway dam.
The Minneopa Creek meanders through a valley carved by glacial meltwater. The valley is dotted with bedrock mortars, used by the local Dakota Native Americans for grinding acorns into meals. These deep pits in the rock were formed as a result of thousands of years of erosion by the creek and its predecessors, indicating that Minneopa Creek has flowed through here for at least several thousand years.
Minneopa State Park
Minneopa State Park is located 10 miles (16 km) south of Mankato, Minnesota on Vermillion Street. The park entrance is just off U.S. Route 169, and the falls are visible from the road shortly before entering the park. The Minneopa Creek flows through a meromictic lake, meaning that the water in the lake does not mix. The lake is normally stratified with heavier saltwater at the bottom and lighter freshwater on top.
Minneopa State Park
During periods of high rainfall, some saltwater can move up to the surface so that fish are found throughout the lake. While this process is natural, the presence of invasive species in the lake has made this less common. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) stocked the lake with walleye several times in the 1970s and 1980s, but these efforts were discontinued after it was determined that the fish could not survive the stratification process.
The DNR stocks the lake with panfish in late spring or early summer, when mixing of the water is less likely. The Minnesota State Fishing Regulations require that only catch-and-release fishing be allowed on Mankato Lake, meaning that fish caught by anglers must be thrown back into the lake after they are measured and photographed for state records.
Minneopa State Park offers a variety of recreational opportunities, including camping, fishing, and hiking. The park has a visitor center that is open year-round, and the falls can be seen from the road shortly before entering the park. The park is open daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. from April 1 through October 31, and from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. from November 1 through March 31. The park is located in the southwest corner of Blue Earth County, Minnesota in southern Minnesota near the city of Mankato in Blue Earth County, Minnesota.