Free time in state parks

On the first two weekends of June, check out a new park, trail or fishing hole at no cost.

Beginning of the Mississippi.
Visitors cross the Mississippi in Itasca State Park.

If you don't spend at least part of the first two weekends in June outdoors, you'll be missing the boat.

Especially in Wisconsin, where the first weekend of June is Free Fishing Weekend. In Michigan, the second weekend of June is Free Fishing Weekend, and in Minnesota, there's free fishing for kids that weekend.

On the first weekend of June, Wisconsin state parks celebrate National Trails Day by offering free admission — that's especially nice for non-residents, who pay $11-$16 for a daily pass.

In Minnesota, the second Saturday of June is Free Parks Day, one of four every year.

Admission to state parks in Iowa and Illinois always is free.

First full weekend in June

You get to explore Wisconsin state parks and trails for free during Free Fun Weekend. Usually, there are special events in many parks, such as guided hikes, concerts and stargazing.

It's also Free Fishing Weekend. Usually, there are clinics and games at nature centers and hatcheries. Many Wisconsin parks also lend out fishing gear, available any time.

Free use of trails in Wisconsin saves bicyclists $5 for a daily pass. Free entry to parks saves residents $8-$11 and non-residents $11-$16.

Usually, chapters of Wisconsin's Ice Age Trail hold National Trails Day hikes and trail runs. Here are recommended day hikes to plan your own.

The rocks of Big Bay State Park.
A hiker basks on the rocky shoreline of Big Bay State Park.

Second weekend of June

On the second Saturday, Minnesota holds a Free Parks Day in its state parks.

Check for naturalist-led events. They include guided hikes, bird-watching, music, storytelling and archery.

In Minnesota, Friday through Sunday also is Take a Kid Fishing Weekend, when people 16 or older don't need a license if they take a youth 15 and younger fishing.

Throughout the season, 36 Minnesota state parks offer free use of fishing kits, including a stocked tackle box. When visitor centers reopen, visitors can borrow GPS units and kits for birding and kids' discovery.

Fishing from a boat in a lake.
A family fishes on a lake in Minnesota.

In Michigan, Saturday and Sunday is Free Fishing Weekend, during which the state parks won't charge an entry fee.

And it's always free to use state trails in Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois.

Where to stay

Minnesota, Michigan and Iowa parks have a large selection of camper cabins, yurts and guesthouses. Reserve as early as possible for weekends.

For camper cabins in each state, see A roof in the woods.

For cabins, see Staying in a state park.

For yurts, see A yen for yurts.

For Minnesota, see Lodgings in Minnesota state parks.

For Michigan, see Michigan's great lake cabins.

Last updated on June 4, 2021 ]

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