FORESTVILLE, Minn. (KMSP) - The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is promoting a day of free hikes at 14 state parks on New Year’s Day, but there’s only one hike that is guaranteed to be an escape from the cold weather.
This year, for the first time during winter, guided tours of Mystery Cave State Park in Forestville are available. Discovered in 1937, Mystery Cave is the longest cave in Minnesota, spanning more than 13 miles underground. Mystery Cave also stays at a constant 48 degrees year-round. It’s usually a welcome escape from the heat in summer, but it sounds like a tropical vacation right now compared to single-digit and subzero temperatures across most of Minnesota.
Typically, public tours of Mystery Cave are only offered between April and October, but the cave is included in this year’s “First Day Hikes.” The nationwide effort led by state park systems is pushing people to start the New Year with fresh air and physical activity. More than 400 First Day Hikes are scheduled in all 50 states.
Tours of Mystery Cave will take place hourly from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Reservations for the cave tours are recommended, but tours also will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis, if space is available. For information about tour prices and to make reservations, visit www.mndnr.gov/reservations or call 866-857-2757.
People should dress for the weather, so ideally in layers that can shed when they warm up as they get moving. They may also want to bring a light backpack to store a water bottle, a nutritious snack, binoculars, a camera, and those extra layers of clothing.
A vehicle permit ($7 for a one-day permit or $35 for a year-round permit) is also required to enter Minnesota state parks.
For more information, contact the DNR Information Center at email@example.com or 888-646-6367 (8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday).