Governor Dayton Proclaims Nov. 23d As “Free Park Friday”

By Deborah Locke, DNR Information Officer


A kind of lull can set in after a holiday celebration. Too much food, too much excitement.

To perk up the next day, consider a walk or run or bike ride through a state park on Nov. 23, 2018. The $7 park vehicle admission fee has been waived in all Minnesota state parks the day after Thanksgiving. That means you and your family and friends can visit as many parks as you wish for free while working off the extra Thanksgiving calories.

This is the third year that Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton has declared “Free Park Friday.” It’s no coincidence that the free offer follows Thanksgiving Day when a typical holiday meal contains about 4,500 calories. A park visit extends a family’s chance to visit with out-of-town relatives while allowing everyone to get fresh air and exercise.

“Park visitors gain health benefits, and much more,” said Erika Rivers, director of Minnesota State Parks and Trails. “A child’s first visit to a park could spark a wonder and interest in conservation that lasts a lifetime.”

Many studies today show the health benefits of an outdoor walk to both children and adults. The Mayo Clinic in Rochester reports that a brisk walk each day helps to maintain a healthy weight, and prevents heart disease, high blood pressure and adult-onset diabetes.

A simple walk does even more: it helps strengthen bones and muscles, improves mood and improves balance and coordination, according to the Mayo Clinic on the benefits of walking.

Most state park offices and visitor centers will be lightly staffed or unstaffed on Nov. 23, but on-site and online resources are available. Find the nearest park at Self-orientation signs near the park entrance recommend what to see and do during a visit.

Hike recommendations can be found online on the Free Park Friday page. To see the Mayo Clinic story on the benefits of walking, go to