MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

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.

© Beth Gauper

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 June 5-6 in 2021 is Free Fishing Weekend. In Michigan, June 12-13 is Free Fishing Weekend, and in Minnesota, there's free fishing for kids June 11-13.

On June 5-6, Wisconsin state parks celebrate National Trails Day by offering free admission — especially nice for non-residents, who pay $11-$16 for a daily pass.

On June 12, admission to all Minnesota state parks is free.

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 June 5-6 during Free Fun Weekend. Usually, there are special events in many parks, such as guided hikes, concerts and stargazing.

June 5-6 also is 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.

© Beth Gauper

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

Second weekend of June

On June 12 in 2021, Minnesota holds an open house in its state parks. 

Check for naturalist-led events. This year, they include guided hikes and, in Whitewater State Park, fossil and falcon programs.

In Minnesota, June 11-13 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.

© Beth Gauper

A family fishes on a lake in Minnesota.

In Michigan, June 12-13 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