Natural resource options abound in Chippewa County, whose entire western edge is the Minnesota River. In addition to the many recreational parks, the county offers three wildlife management areas including the well known Lac qui Parle Wildlife Management Area (WMA). It is a goose hunting and wildlife paradise. Thousands of bird watchers and wildlife lovers visit, hike and bike the area every year. The sight of whitetail deer, prairie chickens, ducks, bad eagles will delight almost any time of year.
Continue your tour by seeing a number of significant “firsts” in Minnesota’s history by visiting exhibits overlooking Lac qui Parle Lake. Fort Renville was established as a trading post by fur trader and explorer Joseph Renville in 1826. Visit the recreated Lac qui Parle Mission Church where in 1835, the first church bell tolled in Minnesota. Annually, the Lac qui Parle Mission hosts Mission Sunday on the second Sunday in July.
Lac qui Parle State Park
Lac qui Parle State Park is just west of the Mission Church site, and just northwest of Montevideo. Here you will find lakes that formed when the glaciers receded. This created naturally occurring dams, causing the formation of wide bodies of water along the length of the Minnesota River. Approximately 50,000 people visit this 530-acre year-round park yearly. There are many opportunities for camping, hiking, biking, swimming, horseback riding, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing, along with boat and canoe access to the river.
** Look for one of Minnesota’s largest cottonwood tree – 139 years old! You’ll find it near the Lac qui Parle Mission Church.
Watson Hunting Camp
At the Watson Hunting Camp we specialize in offering you a high quality hunting experience. Located in the heart of the Lac qui Parle Wildlife refuge in western Minnesota, the hunting opportunities available at our camp are very diverse and plentiful.
The hunting camp offers a fully guided Canada goose, duck, and dove hunting experience over high quality decoys in pre-scouted fields. Lac qui Parle is known for it’s legendary waterfowl hunting, but did you know that it’s home to trophy walleye, slab crappies and big northern pike? Also perch and catfish roam these waters. We are now offering fish house rentals throughout the winter. Stay in our big, heated sleeper houses, or rent them by the day and stay back at the WHC hotel and bar. In addition, we can also provide a preserve pheasant hunt on 165 acres of pristine western Minnesota prairie!
Chippewa County offers two camper cabins in its new park, Wegdahl. They’re very similar to those found in State Parks, and can be used year around. The park is located six miles south of Montevideo on the Minnesota River, and getting there can be as fun as it is easy: You can drive your vehicle on U.S. Highway 212 or Chippewa County Road 15 right to the cabin doors; hike on foot or ride your bike along a paved trail running directly from Montevideo to the park; or launch your canoe and paddle the Minnesota River to it. A public waters access at the site also makes it a popular destination for anglers and paddlers.
The cabins are being offered on a first-come, first serve basis, at $50 a night. Reservations can be done in person or by phone at the Land and Resource office in the county courthouse building, 320-269-6231.
Hinterland Vineyard & Winery
Starting with each clip of the pruner during the long winter on the prairie begins a new season and expectation of a wine from the sweetland of the prairie. Hinterland Vineyard and Winery produces a wine that you can share with family and friends, and brings people together in conversation and laughter. The labor in the vineyard ends in a experience that can be taken in and shared with others.
The quality of the grapes at harvest is the result of attention to detail throughout the growing season. From using a trellising system that allows them to use the heat degrees that our prairie region offers, to managing crop production, they can produce a fruit that their confident is at its’ prime when it is picked. It can then be on to the wine making process where skill, science, and the winemaker’s artistic style, combine to bring you Hinterland Vineyard’s best wines.
Chippewa County Fair
Everyone loves a ‘good ole’ county fair! Chippewa County Fair offers numerous activities and events for all ages. Each day/night brings something new and entertaining for the crowd. Fireworks, Carnivals, Races, Demo Derbies are just a few things. The night entertainment has drawn in large crowds and consists of The Johnny Holmes Band, Hair Ball, and Hicktown Mafia!
Ice Castle’s Annual Ice Fishing Tournament
Thousands of people have taken to the ice on legendary lake in western Minnesota. Mostly known for it’s goose hunting, Lac qui Parle is quickly becoming a destination in the winter. Cars, trucks and suvs traveled from all parts of the state and arrived at the Watson Hunting Camp for the inaugural ice fishing tournament with the Ice Castle Fish Houses company, “The Ice Castle Classic“.
$10,000 is up for grabs for 1st place, while three Ice Castle units are scattered among 50 total prizes valued at over $75,000. Any fish is eligible, with the largest taking the grand prize. That could mean carp, catfish, sheephead or the usual suspects like walleye, crappie and northern. Lac qui Parle is part of the Minnesota River system, so you’ll find a wide variety of species under the ice.