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Staycation Itinerary: An afternoon at Lac qui Parle State Park

Lac qui Parle in French means “lake which speaks”; in Da­kota it means “little talking lake”. The area that now exists as Lac qui Parle State Park was once settled by a Dakota village near the site of Fort Renville, which located in what is now the state park. In 1826 Joseph Ren­ville built a stockade overlooking the lake where they also found­ed the Lac qui Parle Mission. Even though Fort Renville has been completely demol­ished, there is still an overlook that exists within Lac qui Parle State Park. The state park is considered a major success story for wildlife management.

There were only 150 geese counted in the lake in 1958, this prompted the state park to act. At the present time, there have been up to 120,000 geese at once in the lake. Because of its location. Lac qui Parle State Park is a major stop for migra­tory birds. This allows for incredible bird watching during migration. The park sits on 27,000 acres of the wildlife management area. The stale park was built as part of the Lac qui Parle Flood Con­trol Project. The park is actually a widening of the Minnesota Riv­er. The flood control project included build­ing a dam at the south end of the lake.

Open year-round, Lac qui Parle State Park offers a myriad of activities for everyone. There is canoeing and kayaking as well as swimming and fishing. There arc also trails that can be walked on foot or on horseback. Bald eagle sightings are more common than one might think in the park, as welI as a va­riety of fish and other wildlife.

The state park’s lower entrance is lo­cated at 3749 State Park Road, Montevideo, MN 56265. This location is where to find the swimming beach; the DNR Head­ quarters is located at 14047 20th Street NW, Watson, MN 56295. There are two camp­ grounds located with­ in the park, upper and lower. The Lac qui Parle State Park beach is located near the lower campground.

If you find yourself looking for something to do on a hot summer day, the state park is a great choice for a place to hang out and cool off. A nice after­ noon at the park can be spent at the swimming beach. One should plan on wearing some water shoes if you plan to swim in the lake at the swimming beach as there are several zebra mussels around the lakebed. Floaties are welcome at the beach. Pay close mind to safety with swimming be­cause there is no life­ guard on duty. Some suggestions on what to pack are sunscreen, food, water, towels, floaties, a cam­ era. chairs, and water shoes (or even a cheap pair of flip-flops will work).

Reporter & photography by Cynthia Christians