Fort Snelling State Park Family Overnight
Family Camping in the Heart of the Twin Cities
Join us for an urban wilderness experience that will surprise and delight you and your family. Your adventure is based at Picnic Island in Fort Snelling State Park. Here you and your family will set up camp, hike around Picnic Island, and learn about the amazing history of Fort Snelling – it is truly the birthplace of modern Minnesota. At Picnic Island, you’ll enjoy bird songs, a view of the river, good food, and the crackling of a campfire as you relax. This is a fantastic way for you and your family to explore the environment right out your back door.
For standard meeting places and times, see Dates & Fees tab.
DAY 1: The trip begins at 2 p.m. at Picnic Island in Fort Snelling State Park. Participate in a large group activity before breaking into small groups to learn the basics of setting up camp. Once everyone is settled in, choose from a variety of activities such as hiking, swimming, or fishing. Afterwards return to Picnic Island and prepare dinner as a group. End the night with s'mores and story telling around the campfire.
DAY 2: Wake up to the morning sounds of birds and frogs as you begin breaking camp. After a breakfast feast, share in a final reflection and participate in group activities for the remainder of the morning. Stop by the Thomas Savage Visitor Center for an interesting take on the area before ending the trip at 10 am.
Travel, Terrain, Etc...
TERRAIN/ROUTE CHOICES: Fort Snelling State Park is a beautiful place. On this trip, you will stay in relatively flat "river bottom" area and hike on wide flat trails. Some of the trails are paved and others are natural. This is an accessible area.
TYPE OF TRAVEL/DISTANCE: Hike between 1 and 3 miles through beautiful river bottoms. Head for Pike Island to enjoy a unique view of the park.
WEATHER: Temperatures can vary greatly throughout the season, but typical summer temps range from 55 F to 100 F. While generally sunny, it can rain any day in Minnesota.
ACCOMMODATIONS: At night sleep in a comfortable 4 person tent with 3-4 people (other arrangements can be made).
MEALS: Enjoy preparing meals together using fresh, healthy ingredients for bountiful dishes. Rise to the smell of freshly brewed coffee to enjoy with your breakfast. In the evening, we’ll prepare our dinner together over stoves and campfires and then finish with s’mores. If you have special dietary restrictions, be sure to list them on your registration.
YOUR GROUP: Groups consist of 15 - 50 participants, plus Wilderness Inquiry staff. Our trips are cooperative in nature. WI staff will assist you in whatever areas you need; however, most people pitch in where they can.
EQUIPMENT AND CLOTHING: Wilderness Inquiry will provide all group equipment. You will need to provide your personal gear as outlined in the packing list. If you are new to outdoor activities, you do not need to spend a lot of money. Wilderness Inquiry can usually arrange for you to borrow most items.A note about the itinerary: Our trips are real adventures in the outdoors. While we'll make every effort to follow the itinerary listed here, elements may change due to weather or reasons beyond our control.
The landscapes of the Twin Cities metropolitan area have been shaped over time by the elements that define our region: snow and water. Everywhere you look in Minnesota there is evidence of our glacial past. Since the glaciers moved onward, humans have taken over and directed the modern history of the land.
Evidence suggests that people have lived in the region for almost 12,000 years. Throughout this history, the major rivers in the area have served for navigation, and travel, and for fishing and hunting. The lakes and prairies that dominate the oak savanna ecosystems of southern and central Minnesota have also offered excellent fishing and hunting.
Eventually, these regions offered excellent farming conditions to the people of the area as well. All of these conditions came together creating the potential to harness the power of the Mississippi River for energy and shipping in the 19th century. This resulted in a milling boom in the in the Twin Cities area. The industrial growth spurred a population boom and the need to preserve open spaces became apparent. Many urban areas across our nation have struggled to scrape together park spaces, which are few and far between. Long ago, residents of the Twin Cities began planning for the future, and we have them to thank for the wonderful park systems alive today.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is your cancellation/refund policy?
Your 10% deposit is non-refundable. If you choose to cancel your trip:
For trips in the continental United States:
• 6 weeks prior to start date — we will refund fees paid minus deposit.
• Less than 6 weeks — we will refund 50% of the total trip fee, or 100% of fees paid can be transferred to a future trip.
• Less than 1 week— no refunds will be issued.
For trips outside the continental United States:
• 12 weeks prior to start date— we will refund fees paid minus deposit.
• Less than 12 weeks — we will refund 50% of the total trip fee, or 100% of fees paid can be transferred to a future trip.
• Less than 2 weeks — no refunds will be issued.
In the rare event that WI cancels a trip, or we are unable to serve you, all fees are immediately refunded, including the deposit. Unfortunately, we cannot be responsible for personal expenses such as airline tickets. To protect your investment in your travel plans we recommend purchasing travel insurance. Information on travel insurance is included in your trip confirmation packet. If after registering you wish to switch trips, you may do so subject to availability. Fees may apply.
Under certain circumstances, such as death of a family member, change in health status, loss of employment, etc., we may make exceptions to our refund policies. Please let us know immediately if your plans change!
What is the minimum age for kids on your family trips?
There is no minimum age requirement to participate on a WI family trip. We require participants to wear a personal flotation device (PFD) at all times when on water for safety. The smallest PFD we provide for children requires a minimum weight of 30 pounds. A family with a child smaller than this weight limit would need to provide their own PFD or would be unable to participate on the trip. For family paddling trips, children should be able to sit comfortably in a canoe or kayak for 1+ hour at a time. This should guide whether or not a child would be a good fit on any particular trip.
Is there a discount on family trips?
Yes. All youth participants under the age of 18 pay 50% less than the adult rate on all family trips. Click here to see a list of our available family trips.
Can people of any age attend a trip?
Yes. Adults of all ages join our adult trips. In most circumstances children under 18 years of age are only allowed on family trips. We do not recommend many of our trips for infants or children under age 3. If you have young children, or if you have questions about which trips are most appropriate please call our office at 612-676-9400.
I have a child with a disability. Would a family trip be appropriate for them?
Yes. All of our trips strive to integrate persons with and without disabilities, including children on our family trips. Call us at 612-676-9400 if you have questions. Otherwise, you can register for a family trip and we'll call you when we receive your forms.
Will age-appropriate activities be offered for children on a family trip?
Yes. Your trip leaders will offer age-appropriate activities for children at different points throughout the trip.
For more information, visit these links:
Standard Meeting Places and Times
Start: Fort Snelling State Park Picnic Island - Shelter A (local time)
End: Fort Snelling State Park Picnic Island - Shelter A (local time)
This trip officially begins at 2:00 PM at Fort Snelling State Park at the Picnic Island group site. The trip ends at 10:00 AM at the same location. If you drive your own vehicle to Fort Snelling State Park, you will need to purchase an entrance pass and you may need to use it throughout the remainder of the trip. Entrance passes are $7.00 per day or $35 for an annual pass. Detailed meeting place instructions will be sent to you when you are confirmed for the trip.