Thursday, June 2, 2016

Big Bog State Recreation Area

 One of the places that I have wanted to go to for a while now is Big Bog State Recreation Area.  I have heard about the boardwalk through the bog and all the unique flora that grows there.  I especially wanted to see the orchids.   

  Since this area is so closed to Canada (about 30 Miles as the crow flies) I wrote and asked what is the best time to see the orchids blooming and was told late May to the middle of June.  When we arrived at Big Bog on May 30th it was 78 degrees.  I had booked a camper cabin because I have many fond memories of my families summer trips 'Up North' and having to go buy sweatshirts/jackets because it was so cold.  78 at the end of May, who would have thought.

Since rain was predicted for the rest of our stay we went right to the mile long boardwalk to see what we could find.  I must say that going looking for wildflowers can be like trying to see the bison at Minneopa State Park.  You know they are there but you can't see them.  I thought since our spring was on the warm side that we might get lucky.  We were a little.

Bog Laurel

There was a lot of Bog Laurel blooming.  As you can see the color makes it easy to see and it is a tall plant.

Arctic Raspberry

We found one Arctic Raspberry, I think.  I looked up all the flowers at Minnesota Wildflowers website.  If you haven't been to the site it is one of the best around.  It was started by a Master Naturalist a few years ago. 

Eagle-eyed Doug saw this one.  It was the only one we saw and grows very closed to the ground.
(The bog boardwalk probably averages 2 feet off the ground.) 

Small Yellow Lady Slipper

Just as we were walking off the end of the boardwalk Doug spotted the Small Yellow Lady Slipper.  It is about half the size of a normal lady slipper.

We did see a few other flowers but I have yet to identify them.

The bog is about 9 miles from the campground. The campground area is just a narrow strip between the road and the Tamarack River.  Although it is called a 'recreation area' there is very little to do there except fish. They do have a few short trails to walk.  If you think about it you can't walk in a bog without sinking up to your knees. When we arrived on Memorial Day the place was full and I think every camp site and camper cabin had a boat trailer.  Did I mention that campground is across the road from Upper Red Lake.  The campsites on the Tamarack River have a dock.  If you want to fish Upper Red Lake this is a great place to stay.

Zippel Bay State Park

Because it was raining the next day we decided to check out Zippel Bay State Park on Lake of the Woods.  There were a few fisher-people there but basically the park was empty.  All campsites are without electricity and it would be hard to get a large RV in some of the spots.

This is a very nice park.  You can feel like you are on Lake Superior without all the people.

Our next stop was Franz Jevne State Park on Rainy River.  This is Minnesota's smallest state park.
All campsites are rustic but it was raining pretty good when we were there so I don't have much to say about the park itself.
On the way there you are traveling along the Rainy river and Doug made a comment at how well taken care of the Canadian side of the river looks.  It turns out that there is a large Canadian Monument area that has had a lot of Native history but we could only look across the river and try to sing "O Canada".

On the way back we crossed the Rapid River bridge and noticed some pelicans.  We stoped to get out and snap some photos.

Well I think that is about enough for this travelogue with just a couple more stops.  We stopped at Lake Bemidji State Park and they also have a mile long bog walk and Crow Wing State Park.  Crow Wing has a beautiful view of the Mississippi from the boat launch.

Photos by Doug Schurr and Geri Fenton

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