Minnesota's 75 state parks are really starting to pop with beautiful fall colors, perfect for a little autumn exploring.

Minnesota is blessed with a ton of natural beast just waiting to be hiked, biked, fished, and explored. A single-day vehicle permit will cost you $7, and an annual vehicle permit is $35.

The best news is that a lot of these state parks are just a short drive from the Saint Cloud area.

Get our free mobile app

Here are the Ten State Parks Closest to Saint Cloud

  • Walk the trails amid grand red & white pine, aspen, and oak while watching the bald eagles soar at Charles A. Lindbergh State Park in Little Falls.
  • Enjoy the heavily forested trails while looking for as many of the 220 recorded bird species as possible at Lake Maria State Park in Monticello.
  • Hike up Mount Tom (elevation 1,375 ft.) for a panoramic view or hit the nearby Glacial Lakes State Trail at Sibley State Park in New London.
  • Hike the famous Woods Trail and check out the view from Chippewa Lookout at Crow Wing State Park in Brainerd.
  • Enjoy the self-guided trails and the 100-foot fire tower that you can climb for a majestic view of Mille Lacs Lake at Mille Lacs Kathio State Park in Onamia.
  • Hike the majestic hardwood forest trails while keeping your eyes peeled for one of the several white deer that inhabit Father Hennepin State Park in Isle.
  • Hike or ski (depending on the weather) from the tamarack bog to a maple-basswood forest at Lake Carlos State Park in Carlos.
  • Stand on top of the scenic glacial hills and experience the vast, open prairie that once dominated Minnesota at Glacial Lakes State Park in Starbuck.
  • Pack a turkey-sandwich picnic, and watch the sky and shore for the large variety of birds at Monson Lake State Park in Sunburg.
  • Explore a 3-mile loop around Pike Island and keep an eye out for wild turkeys at Fort Snelling State Park in St. Paul.

The next 'Free State Park' day is coming up on Black Friday (November 26th).

The bottom line is that there's no shortage of ways to spend some quality time with your family outdoors this fall.

LOOK: Stunning vintage photos capture the beauty of America's national parks

Today these parks are located throughout the country in 25 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The land encompassing them was either purchased or donated, though much of it had been inhabited by native people for thousands of years before the founding of the United States. These areas are protected and revered as educational resources about the natural world, and as spaces for exploration.

Keep scrolling for 50 vintage photos that show the beauty of America's national parks.

LOOK: Here are the 50 best beach towns in America

Every beach town has its share of pluses and minuses, which got us thinking about what makes a beach town the best one to live in. To find out, Stacker consulted data from WalletHub, released June 17, 2020, that compares U.S. beach towns. Ratings are based on six categories: affordability, weather, safety, economy, education and health, and quality of life. The cities ranged in population from 10,000 to 150,000, but they had to have at least one local beach listed on TripAdvisor. Read the full methodology here. From those rankings, we selected the top 50. Readers who live in California and Florida will be unsurprised to learn that many of towns featured here are in one of those two states.

Keep reading to see if your favorite beach town made the cut.

LOOK: Route 66’s quirkiest and most wonderful attractions state by state

Stacker compiled a list of 50 attractions--state by state--to see along the drive, drawing on information from historic sites, news stories, Roadside America, and the National Park Service. Keep reading to discover where travelers can get their kicks on Route 66.