Whitewater State Park


Red, orange and yellow trees on a hillside
Stream cutting through the bluffs in the park. photo: Jimmy Rollins
View from atop a bluff
View from atop the bluff. photo: Mick Rollins
Rolling river
Spring-fed stream in the park.

About the park

MN Map pinpointing Whitewater State Park

Around 1920, local citizens successfully lobbied to establish Whitewater State Park and thereby protect some of the most beautiful areas within the Whitewater River Valley. Picturesque limestone bluffs and deep ravines make Whitewater a very popular park. It’s an angler’s paradise with brown, brook and rainbow trout swimming in the parks’ two spring-fed rivers. Visitors enjoy a sandy swimming beach, a year-round visitor center, easy-to-challenging hiking trails, camping, staying at the group center in rustic, winterized cabins.

Nearly 50 kinds of mammals and 250 kinds of birds use the Whitewater River Valley during the course of a year, including the rare Louisiana Waterthrush. Of Minnesota’s rare animals and plants, 43 percent live in the Blufflands.

Our Land Projects by the Numbers


completed or
in progress here


of invaluable
land saved


of the parks' total
acreage saved by us


of land at time
of acquisition

Park Map Showing Project Sites

Our Project Stories

Filling in a gap

Project Year: 1993

Project Acres: 10

This project involved a relatively small parcel that was an inholding within the park located near the entrance. Acquiring the land helped to ensure a contiguous park management. In 2017 one of the campgrounds was moved from its flood-prone location to higher ground near the location of this land.

Protecting the watershed

Project Years: 1999-2000

Project Acres: 40

Trout Run Creek meanders through this 40-acre parcel that contains some of the Whitewater Valley’s most important and unique natural resources. Acquiring this land for the park ensures this important waterway remain clean and prime habitat for trout and the many other wildlife that rely on this creek. Parks & Trails Council partnered with the Whitewater State Park Citizen’s Association and the Citizens for Southeast Minnesota State Parks to complete this project.

Saving the iconic bluffs

Project Years: 2005-07

Project Acres: 216

As visitors arrive to the park and walk into the Visitor Center, they are greeted by the stunning view of giant, forested bluffs towering over them. Beginning in 2000 worries were mounting that this view would be forever lost as the iconic land was put up for sale.

At the time, most of this property was relatively flat farmland located on top of the bluff with the steep slopes leading down to the park that were not tillable and therefore forested. The matter became urgent when the county approved plans for subdividing the land. Visions of multiple dwellings dotting the top the bluff seemed inevitable. Furthermore, discussions were underway to cut down the trees along the slopes to harvest their timber. The landscape would have been completely changed and yet it nearly seemed out of reach for the park to acquire the land.

Parks & Trails Council engaged in extensive negotiations with the landowners over the course of five years and in 2005 we purchased 216 acres of the property, specifically the iconic bluffs towering over the visitor center. Critical to this purchase was a donation from the WM Foundation of $1 million and a $250,000 gift from The McKnight Foundation.

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Restoring park entrance land

Project Years: 2007-11

Project Acres: 16

When a private residence went for sale along the road leading to the park visitor center, it was an opportunity to buy the land that could be impact the overall park experience. Most park visitors drive past this land, and the house then existed, on the way to the visitor center and see it as they hike the popular trail behind the center.
Parks & Trails Council stepped up to purchase the land and house when the park lacked the funding to act before it was sold to another private owner. It took four years of holding the land in trust before the park was able to incorporate it into the park.

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More Land Projects

Tour more of the projects we've added to parks and trails.

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