In early 2014 I made reservations for two nights in an authentic Tipi in Upper Sioux Agency State Park. There was no way to know at the time, but that spring the Minnesota River would flood. Upper Sioux Agency State Park campground would close for a period of time due to flooding, we didn’t know until the day before we were supposed to leave if the campground would be open. Well lucky for us, the campground did open back up and we were the only ones that didn’t cancel our reservations. We literally had a state park to ourselves for 2 nights!
Even if we hadn’t been the only ones there it still would have been a great trip, definitely one worth writing about.. Looking at the statistics of MN State Park usage, Upper Sioux Agency is one of the lesser-used parks. In 2011 (most recent stats I saw) Upper Sioux had 4,541 overnight stays. Compare that with Lake Itasca State Park, which had 82,679, or White Water State Park with 36,620. So I think that flood or no flood, this is probably a great state park if you are looking for some peace and quiet! http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/2011top.html
The campground area was very nice, and the tipi’s were amazing! The tipi’s are large enough to comfortably stand up in. They are 18 feet in diameter and can sleep up to 6 people. We were able to blow up both of our full size air mattresses and still have plenty of room for our bags and all the other clutter that comes along with 2 little kids. The floor of the tipi is a recycled plastic that looks like wood planks and each tipi has a broom in it. That made it extremely easy to sweep out any dirt that followed the little feet in. The top of the tipi can be propped open for airflow. We all slept very comfortably in the Tipi!
The State Park is 1,280 acres. We saw a lot of wildlife while we were there including deer, baby rabbits, a snake and lots of frogs. The hiking that we did was easy enough for the kids, and they had a blast spotting deer tracks and catching frogs! Our biggest complaint was definitely the mosquitoes, but that is to be expected in MN in June! Make sure to pack lots of bug spray! There are very nice bathroom facilities in the campground. They also offer tent camping sites, along with the 6 tipi sites. Each site has a picnic table and fire ring.
One of the days we went into Redwood Falls, a nearby town. There we visited a lovely park called Alexander Ramsey Park, dubbed “the Little Yellowstone of Minnesota”. The park has a playground, picnic tables, trails and a waterfall. There is also a little zoo there. I have to admit that my kids are zoo snobs, we live 4 miles from the Minnesota Zoo, so the free small town zoo was not very impressive to them. I also found it to be a little bit of a depressing zoo display, with animals in pretty bare cages.
Then we went to the Redwood Falls Aquatic Center. The water park was a great way to spend a couple hours. There was enough to keep them busy and a snack bar as well. A day pass for the water park was $5 per person, which I thought was very reasonable.
Back at the campground we cooked hot dogs on the fire outside our tipi, saw incredible sunsets both nights and had a marvelous time! I would highly recommend a visit to Upper Sioux Agency State Park!
By Erica Myking