Lisa Brainard: Season of snow arrives – Whitewater State Park invites you out


LISA BRAINARD/BLUFF COUNTRY READER All bundled up at Whitewater State Park. Year unknown.
By : 
Lisa Brainard
Journey vs Destination

Yikes! There it is – a winter world of white outside. Count me as NOT THRILLED.

But of course, our daily lives continue on through the – oh, I don’t know – seven months or so we can see snow. (Remind me again why we live here?!).

One thing that helps the time pass and perhaps even get us happily outdoors (say what?!) are the year-round interpretive programs offered at Whitewater State Park, north of Saint Charles on State Highway 74.

Here are some opportunities to take advantage of there in November and December (and we might even get into a new year, barely!):

Throughout the month of November, Whitewater is offering the History Mystery Geocache Challenge. That has kind of a fun ring to it. Here’s what the park shares about it:

“As part of our centennial anniversary at Whitewater State Park, we invite you to explore the park as you piece together clues that will lead to a hidden cache. Your journey will take you through historic texts and to historic locales, as you decipher the location of the next clue. To start your adventure, just stop by the park office. This challenge will run the entire month of November. The park office is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.”

That sounds like fun – especially great if you’re into history. This past summer, I attended a special centennial play at Whitewater and also, like all attendees, was given a booklet created on the history of the park and the Whitewater River valley. That was very cool. There are many interesting episodes in its past.

Saturday, Nov. 16, 10 a.m. – noon is a Tundra Swan Field Trip.

“Each November thousands of migrating tundra swans stop at the Upper Mississippi National Wildlife and Fish Refuge on their way to Chesapeake Bay. Join a naturalist for a short presentation at the park’s visitor center, after which we will caravan through the Whitewater Wildlife Management Area to Weaver Bottoms on the Mississippi River to observe tundra swans. Binoculars, spotting scopes and handouts will be available. Bring your own transportation.”

Friday, Nov, 29, 10 – 11 a.m. Turkey Hike. “Come on out to the park to walk off that Thanksgiving feast while learning the fascinating history of the wild turkey in the Whitewater Valley! After a short presentation, we'll hike to look for clues and signs of wild turkeys in the park.”

Saturday, Dec. 7, noon – 2:30 p.m. Geocaching Adventure.

“Ever want to get out and explore? During this program we will be going geocaching – looking for things hidden in the woods. What will make this hunt even more exciting is that it will take us off the beaten path into a little used part of the park. So, dress warm, grab your hiking boots, and let's go on an adventure! (Distance: two miles, elevation gain: 300 ft.)”

Wednesday, Jan. 1, 1 – 2 p.m. First Day Hike. “Celebrate the New Year at Whitewater State Park! We'll take a leisurely stroll through the park to see what signs of winter wildlife we can find. If there is enough snow, we will snowshoe. Bring your own snowshoes or borrow the park's. To check on program cancellations in case of bad weather, contact the park at 507-312-2300 or check the online calendar.”

There you have it – many chances to get outside this new season, most often with expert staff members.

Events are free, but you will need to have a state parks admission permit.

For more information, go to: https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/fees.html.

To learn more about the activities, call Whitewater State Park at 507-312-2300. If you need an accommodation, please call or email the event contact by two weeks prior to the event.

Lisa Brainard still enjoys lifelong pursuits of the outdoors, history and travel as able following a serious accident and stroke in September 2012. She’s written this Journey vs. Destination column weekly for over 15 years.