Native yellow sunflowers in a field

Sibley State Park


prairie field
Prairie at Sibley State Park. By Don Olson

About the park

Map of Mn with star at Sibley State Park

Sibley State Park is a place where prairies and lakes meld together in harmony. Amid this prairie, a large lake beckons visitors to swim, boat and fish. Scattered across the park are many smaller lakes revealing a natural world full of wildlife.

You can hike up Mount Tom where an observation tower offers views of the rolling fields and lakes. And a canoe route invites adventurers to portage and canoe across Henschien and Swan Lakes.

Established as a state park in 1919, this park was named after Henry Hastings Sibley, Minnesota’s first governor. He was a complicated figure who at times defended Native Americans’ rights and at others facilitated injustices against Native Americans that reverberate today.

Our Work by the Numbers



undertaken by P&TC
for this park



of land saved
for this park



when last project
was completed



total value of
all land projects

Park Map Showing Project Sites

Project Stories

Ensuring Swan Lake's legacy

frozen lake at sunset
Sunset over the lake (by Gary Alan Nelson)

TIMELINE: 1993 - 1995


LOCATION: Between Swan Lake and Middle Lake


Two private landowners held the last remaining private property along the southern leg of Swan Lake. The two projects were coordinated together. The land extends between Swan Lake and the much smaller Meadow Lake.

Protecting lakeshore around Lake Andrew

fall trees around lakeshore
Lake Andrew (by Dick Clayton)

TIMELINE: 1999 - 2001

ACRES: 2.5

LOCATION: Along northwestern side of Lake Andrew

VALUE: $30,000

PARTNER: Sibley State Park Improvement Association

This project involved two private landowners along Lake Andrew, the main lake in the park.

Sibley State Park Improvement Association

Restoring a prairie while making a vital trail connection possible

TIMELINE: 2014 - 2018

ACRES: 154

LOCATION: Southeastern corner

VALUE: $496,688

PARTNER: Sibley State Park Improvement Association

This former farm alongside Hwy. 71 had been enrolled in the federal Conservation Reserve Program, which pays a yearly rental payment in exchange for farmers removing environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production and planting species that will improve environmental quality.

In 2014 we acquired the land knowing that it would serve a critical link for connecting the nearby Glacial Lakes State Trail into the park. Such a connection is vital for safely getting more people to experience all the benefits of outdoor recreation. The nearby town of New London even has a school that is located along the proposed trail connection.

Once we bought the land we knew we were accepting the challenge to clean it up and begin to restore the native prairie. Luckily we had an intrepid group of volunteers from the Sibley State Park Improvement Association who led the charge on the clean-up effort. They spent countless hours with their sleeves pulled up and filling dumpster upon dumpster of trash and coordinating contractors to bring in the large machinery needed to remove numerous decrepit buildings.

We have been continuing our advocacy efforts to secure the funding to complete the trail connection using this land and have been partnering to restore native plant communities onto this land.

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Sibley State Park Improvement Association

Securing the last private land along Lake 21

Sunset over a reedy lake
Sunset over Lake 21 from the group campsite looking toward land we added
Four people in front of Lake 21
Work day at the land we acquired for Sibley State Park
Semi truck loading house for removal
House being removed from the land.
Lakeshore along Lake 21 from the land P&TC added.
Three men putting trash in dumpster
Volunteers with the Sibley State Park Improvement Association clean up the land.
two people near decrepit shed
Volunteer Dave Lais discusses removing decrepit shed.

TIMELINE: 2017 - 2020

ACRES: 15.8

LOCATION: Along northern tip of Lake 21

VALUE: $222,705

PARTNER: Sibley State Park Improvement Association

This project has been years in the making and shows how patience can pay off. With a name like “Lake 21” you’d be excused for assuming this was an unnoteworthy lake. But, in fact this is a very special lake that has long been sought after for Sibley State Park. With our acquisition, restoration and conveyance of the final privately owned parcel along Lake 21, it now offers a stunningly natural lake experience—something quite rare in this part of the state.

Retired park manager Dave Lais remembers discussions with the landowner years ago. At that time the landowner was scaling back operations on his minimal-frills resort along the lake. But alas, the sale didn’t work out then. Timing is critical in land deals and while there was a close call with a sale for high-end development, which would have precluded the potential to ever incorporate into the park, that didn’t happen either.

Eventually the children inherited the land and they had moved away so had little use for the land. Because Dave Lais had ensured that the owners know the park would be interested if ever they sold, he was the first to get a ring when it was time to sell.

However, with the park not in the position to buy at the moment, Dave Lais called on Parks & Trails Council to buy the land, which we did in 2017. Similar to the 154 acres we acquired for Sibley State Park in 2014, this land required some heavy lifting to remove all the buildings (3 dwellings were moved) and other structures (decrepit shed, silo, and outhouse were demolished). Once again, it was the hard work of the Sibley State Park Improvement Association’s volunteer members who tackled this part of the cleanup.

As this was the last piece of private property along the lake, a whole new potential is opened up for a trail to circle the lake. The group campsite is located along this lake and now these campers have a completely unobstructed view of this beautiful lake.

Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota sold this parcel to the MnDNR on October 5, 2020.

Related Article: Oct. 6, 2020–Lake 21 now fully encompassed within Sibley State Park

Sibley State Park Improvement Association

Help save special places

Since 1954 we’ve helped to save nearly 10,000 acres of incredible land for Minnesota’s parks and trails. Each year this work gets harder and more critical to continue. Please help us continue this important work.

Land Projects at Other Parks or Trails

Tour more of the land projects we’ve undertaken for parks and trails.

Related Projects