Parts of popular Minnesota state park closed through early next year

A wooden sign stands in grass beneath trees.
A sign for the Walter F. Mondale Day Use Area at William O'Brien State Park.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News 2019

Parts of a popular state park near the Twin Cities are closed through early next year, as a long-planned project to improve accessibility gets underway.

The closure affects the lower portion of William O’Brien State Park, along the St. Croix River.

That section of the park, east of State Highway 95, includes the Riverway Campground, Riverside Trail and Riverside Group Camp. It also includes the Walter F. Mondale Day Use Area, including the Lake Alice beach and picnic areas, and St. Croix River water access.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said the project will include adding accessible campsites and an accessible canoe and kayak launch; new restrooms and shower facilities; and upgrading some trails to better accommodate wheelchairs and other mobility devices.

“William O’Brien State Park is very popular, with nearly 275,000 visitors in 2023, and this project has been several years in the making,” Ann Pierce, director of the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division, said in a news release.

“The Minnesota DNR is constantly working to make our state park system more accessible, and this project is a key advancement in our efforts to ensure Minnesotans of all abilities can enjoy our state’s outdoor experiences.”

The cost of the project is being covered by regular state bonding money, with some additional money from a nearly $150 million appropriation passed by the Legislature last year, aimed at improving access to recreation areas across the state.

The work at William O’Brien State Park is set to last through early 2025. The majority of the park, west of Highway 95, will remain open during construction. Updates will be posted on the park’s website.

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