Thursday, July 7, 2016

A Quick Trip to Southwest State Parks

First the bad news

We decided to make a quick trip to Blue Mound State Park but since it was so hot and humid we tried to get a camper cabin in the area.  There were a couple available in Lake Shetek State Park.

There is one thing to note for those of you that want to do same day reservation on line or by phone, it is not possible for camper cabins.  Being retired and attempting to spend my money wisely I waited until Tuesday morning to reserve for that night.  Logged on to the site and guess what!?!? You can't do same day reservations for camper cabins.  No where on the website does it say this.  I called the reservation line and was again told I couldn't reserve.  I filed a calm complaint with the nice person that was helping me and asked to talked to the supervisor.

My job BR (before retirement) was customer service it's always better to take a complaint up a level. Supervisors seem to note and maybe act on a complaint more than when you pass it on to them.

If you get to your destination and the park office is open you can get a camper cabin.  Since there were 3 available at Lake Shetek we were fairly sure there would be one open by the time we got there. And there was!

Now the good news and it's all good

I fell in love with another park!  What a beautiful park in the middle of the prairie. It's parks like this that make me so proud of Minnesota's park system.

This a a large park on Lake Shetek.  Shetek is the Ojibwe word for pelican.  Around the lake it is wooded and of course Oak savannas.  I could spend a day doing nothing but look at oak trees.  I love the designs and shapes of a single tree or an entire grove.  July is good month to visit the prairie since it is awash with color!

There was a severe weather watch out for the area so we decided to stay in the area and not travel down to Blue Mound SP until the next day.  We lucked out with only a 10 minute downpour and tiny hail.  When it passed we decided to do a drive through of the park.  The camping area on the lake is shaded but they do have the Sunrise campground and there you can get all the sun you would desire.

We ran across this deer which I have taken the liberty of naming this deer Long Neck.  She was very friendly and we thought she was going to come up to the car but she decided to stay away.  I wondered if Mary and Dan make regular trips down to this park.

What better photo to take on a prairie but a panorama.  I took this one because in the far distance you can see the Buffalo Ridge.

The Prairie has such interesting weather. After the short storm it basically clear out maybe about 30 - 40 minutes after the above shot I took this one. These clouds never made it to where we were.  They disappeared as fast as they appeared.

On the way down we saw numerous dead raccoons on the highway.  Doug commented that if they weren't careful they may become an endangered species.  We saw this live family in a soy bean field near the park.  There were actually 4 young ones.  The 2 in the photo are waiting for them to catch up before they really took off.

I would say that this park is a 5 star park.  Go if you get a chance.  We will be going back when we can stay longer.

Blue Mounds State Park

In the morning we went to Blue Mound State Park.  We went to see the bison and some of the blooming cactus. We were incredibly lucky here too, the bison were at the viewing stand.  Right at the stand they put out some sort of powder that the Bison like to roll in so these are not white bison but bison all powdered up.  We were able to watch them for about 30 minutes before they all wandered off.

Heads or Tails

The Big Guy

Unfortunately, Doug found no blooming cactus. There seemed to be fewer cacti than Doug remembers.

I had to keep telling myself that this is a rocky prairie but if it weren't for this bison it is not a park I want to go back to.  The park currently has an ecoli issue with the water so there is no water available for the campers.  The DNR recently decided not a replace a dam that formed the only lake in Rock County.

 I'll rate this one 2-1/2 stars out of five. *

Split Rock Creek State Park

This is a small park between Pipestone and Blue Mounds.  It is a quiet park and the campground is fairly shaded.   Not much to do but relax.  Who doesn't need a get away just to relax.

I'm rating this a 3.*

Camden State Park

Because of a detour we took a different way home and found Camden State Park near Marshall, MN.
We did a quick drive through and would  diffidently go back to the lower campground.  I think this would be a good place to go for fall colors.  We saw a couple more baby raccoons in a tree.  I doubt if they will be on the endangered list any time soon!

Since I haven't stayed there I can only rate this one a 4.*

* These are just my opinions and they may change if I actually camped at the park.

Geri and Doug

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