Buffalo River State Park has one of the state’s largest areas of native and restored prairie, featuring a great variety of grasses and wildflowers such as pale purple coneflowers, silky asters, dotted blazing stars, Maximillian sunflowers and prairie roses.
With only one percent of Minnesota’s native prairie intact, the park’s focus has helped to raise interest in preserving, restoring, and experiencing prairies. Twelve miles of park hiking trails offer views of the prairie, the meandering Buffalo River, and forest.
Birdwatchers in the prairie can look for bobolinks, prairie chickens, upland sandpipers, and marbled godwits. Forest birds include woodpeckers, the great crested flycatcher, phoebes, numerous warblers, vireos, and orioles. Hikers may see mammals such as red fox, badger, coyote, prairie toads, white-tailed deer, and even moose.
In the summer, a park naturalist leads hikes, shows films, and presents evening programs on the park’s natural and cultural history. Self-guided visitors will find trail signage and brochures that give insight into the park’s history and resources. Park visitors also enjoy camping, geocaching, playing golf at nearby courses, and staying cool at the park’s swimming beach, which is open from May 26 to August 19.