Discover Afton State Park, Minnesota

Nestled within Minnesota’s acclaimed state parks system, Afton State Park is a 1,700-acre haven for wildlife and outdoor enthusiasts alike. Imagine steep ravines, rolling prairies, and the scenic St. Croix River all coming together to create a stunning backdrop for your next family outing.

Afton State Park isn’t just a patch of green on the map—it’s a key contributor to Minnesota’s flourishing outdoor culture. With a welcoming visitor center, diverse trails for hiking and cross-country skiing, and even backpack campsites for the more adventurous, this park is a playground for hikers, bird-watchers, and anyone seeking a moment of tranquility.

Conveniently located near the Twin Cities metro area, Afton State Park makes it easy for families to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and reconnect with nature. Pack a picnic, bring the kids, and prepare to create lasting memories in a place where adventure and serenity go hand in hand.

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Top 3 Facts about Afton State Park

01

1600+ Acres

Afton State Park spans over 1,600 acres of pristine natural beauty along the St. Croix River, offering ample space for outdoor recreation and exploration.

02

Hiking Trails

Visitors to Afton State Park can enjoy over 20 miles of hiking, skiing, and horseback riding trails, providing diverse opportunities to immerse themselves in the park’s scenic landscapes.

03

Ice Age Origins

The park is situated in the St. Croix Dalles, a geological formation created by the glacial meltwaters of the last ice age, offering valuable insights into the region’s geological history and processes.

Where to Sleep

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Juniper Cabin

3601 Monck Road,Kawartha Lakes,ON,CA,K0M 2L0
Bathrooms 1
Bedrooms 2
$182.42 / day

Hemlock Cabin

3601 Monck Road,Kawartha Lakes,ON,CA,K0M 2L0
Bathrooms 1
Bedrooms 2
$194.14 / day

Greenash Cabin

3601 Monck Road,Kawartha Lakes,ON,CA,K0M 2L0
Bathrooms 1
Bedrooms 2
$182.42 / day

Dogwood Cabin

3601 Monck Road,Kawartha Lakes,ON,CA,K0M 2L0
Bathrooms 1
Bedrooms 2
$182.42 / day

Camping and transportation in Afton State Park

info_iconBackcountry camping permits required for wilderness camping opportunities.

How to Get to Afton State Park

To get to Afton State Park in Minnesota, you can follow these general directions:

From the Twin Cities (Minneapolis and St. Paul areas):

  1. Interstate 94 East: If you’re starting from Minneapolis or St. Paul, take Interstate 94 eastbound.
  2. Exit 258: Take Exit 258 for County Road 21/Manning Avenue.
  3. South on County Road 21: Head south on County Road 21 (also known as Manning Avenue) for about 2 miles.
  4. Left onto County Road 70: Turn left onto County Road 70 and continue for about 4 miles.
  5. Entrance to Afton State Park: Look for signs indicating the entrance to Afton State Park on your right. Turn into the park entrance and follow the road to reach the park’s visitor center, campground, and trailheads.

Places to Stay Near Afton State Park

If you’re looking for places to stay near Afton State Park, you have several options, from hotels to campgrounds. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Camping at Afton State Park: Afton State Park offers camping facilities, including drive-in and backpacking campsites. If you enjoy camping and want to immerse yourself in nature, staying at the park is a great option. Just be sure to make reservations in advance, especially during peak seasons.
  2. Hotels and Motels: Nearby towns such as Stillwater, Woodbury, and Cottage Grove offer a range of hotels and motels for those seeking more traditional lodging options. These establishments vary in price and amenities, so you can find something to suit your preferences and budget.
  3. Vacation Rentals: Consider renting a cabin, cottage, or vacation home near Afton State Park. Websites like Lake offer a variety of rental properties in the area, providing a comfortable and private space for you and your group.
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Best Time to Go to Afton State Park

Summer

Summer

Summer at Afton State Park is perfect for exploring and water activities. You’ll have over 20 miles of trails to conquer on foot or horseback. Don’t forget to pack your swimsuit; the swimming beach along the St. Croix River is a refreshing stop after a day of hiking or camping at one of the park’s many sites.

Winter

Winter

Winter wonderland, anyone? Strap on your skis or snowshoes because Afton State Park’s trails are groomed for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. The silent, snow-covered hardwoods and pines offer a serene escape. Though many campgrounds and cabins might be closed, some camping options are available for the hearty winter camper.

Spring

Spring

Spring brings a revitalizing energy to Afton State Park. As the snow melts away, the park’s trails, including Deer Valley Loop and bluff trails, become ideal for hiking and birdwatching. The oak savanna comes to life with budding greenery, making it a beautiful period for a backpacking excursion to one of the park’s remote campsites.

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Fall

Must-See Attractions

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Afton Alps Overlook

Located near the visitor center, the Afton Alps Overlook offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes, including the St. Croix River Valley and the park’s rolling hills. It’s a perfect spot for taking in the scenery and capturing memorable photos.

Old Afton Trail

This historic trail follows the old Afton Ski Hill route and offers a scenic hike through wooded areas and open meadows. Along the way, you’ll encounter remnants of the ski hill’s infrastructure, including old chairlifts and ski runs.

St. Croix River Overlook

Several overlooks along the park’s trails provide picturesque views of the St. Croix River as it winds its way through the valley below. These overlooks offer excellent opportunities for birdwatching, wildlife viewing, and enjoying the beauty of the river.

Helpful Tips: Making The Most of Your Adventure to Afton State Park

Plan Ahead

Plan Ahead

Before your visit, check the park’s website for any updates on trail conditions, closures, or special events. This will help you better prepare for your trip and maximize your time in the park.

Pack Appropriately

Pack Appropriately

Be sure to pack essential items such as water, snacks, sunscreen, insect repellent, and a map or compass. Dress appropriately for the weather and wear sturdy shoes suitable for hiking or walking on uneven terrain.

Respect Wildlife

Prepare for Wildlife Encounters

Afton State Park is home to various wildlife, including deer, foxes, and birds. While encounters are often a highlight of visiting the park, it’s important to observe wildlife from a safe distance and avoid feeding or approaching them.

Stay Informed

Reserve Campsites in Advance

If you plan to camp at Afton State Park, especially during peak seasons, making reservations in advance is recommended. Campsites can fill up quickly, so securing your spot ahead of time will ensure you have a place to stay.

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afton state park1 scaled

Frequently Asked Questions about Afton State Park

Yes, pets are allowed in designated park areas, including most trails and the campground. However, they must be kept on a leash at all times and not allowed in buildings, beaches, or ski trails.

Yes, there is a designated swimming area along the St. Croix River within the park. Visitors can enjoy swimming and sunbathing on the sandy beach during the warmer months.

Yes, camping is allowed in Afton State Park. The park offers both drive-in and backpacking campsites for overnight visitors. Reservations are recommended, especially during peak seasons.

Yes, Afton State Park has several hiking trails that are suitable for beginners, including the Prairie Loop Trail and the Interpretive Trail. These trails offer relatively easy terrain and scenic views for hikers of all ages and skill levels.

Yes, Afton State Park is open year-round for visitors to enjoy various outdoor activities. Each season offers unique opportunities, from hiking and swimming in the summer to cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter.

Yes, visitors can rent equipment for activities such as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing at Afton State Park. The park’s visitor center may offer equipment rentals during the winter months, but availability may vary, so it’s best to call ahead to confirm.

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