“Enjoy the Bold Natural Wonders!”
Visit Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park to see natural wonders above and below ground. In the summer, beat the heat with a visit below ground. Explore the world of Mystery Cave with its stalactites, stalagmites, and underground pools. Park naturalists provide tours of the cave throughout the summer and on weekends in the spring and fall. The temperature stays at a constant 48 degrees Fahrenheit. Above ground, stop by Historic Forestville, a restored 1800s village operated by the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS). Fish three blue-ribbon trout streams for brown trout. Take in the soft pastels of wildflowers in spring or listen to ruffed grouse drumming and wild turkeys gobbling. Hike or bring your horse to ride the ridge tops and stream valleys. Observe interesting geologic features along the way including sinkholes and dramatic Big Spring. In the fall, don't miss the bold colors of the forest. Winter invites visitors to ski or snowmobile the Bluff Country. The great variety of habitats supports remarkably different wildlife ranging from rare glacial snails to timber rattlesnakes. While a few rattlers live in the park, they are of very little threat if left alone. Please report sightings. Other wildlife of note include deer, raccoon, beaver, mink, opossum, woodchucks, four species of squirrels, red and grey fox. Coyote numbers have grown in recent years and can often can be heard at dusk. Several species of reptiles and amphibians are also present. At least 175 species of birds have been recorded in the park including several important neotropical migrants (scarlet tanager, oven bird, redstart) and a sizeable population of wild turkeys. Barred owls often wake campers with after dark calling and soaring turkey vultures delight summer visitors. In the center of the park, along the South Branch of the Root River, is the townsite of Forestville. Founded in 1853, the village emerged as a rural trade center, typical of hundreds that emerged across southern Minnesota during the 1850s. Area farmers came to Forestville to trade their farm produce for goods and services. By 1858, Forestville numbered 100 inhabitants and had 20 buildings including two general stores, a grist mill, a brickyard, two hotels, a school, and mechanics of several trades. Forestville prospered until the first area railroad, the Southern Minnesota, bypassed the community in 1868. Village residents watched their town struggle to survive, while towns served by the railroad boomed with prosperity. By 1890, Thomas J. Meighen, son of one of the town's founders, owned the entire village. The 50 residents made their living on Mr. Meighen’s farm. In return for their work, his employees received housing, board and credit in his store. Mr. Meighen also maintained a post office, the school, a feed and a saw mill.
WOW! What a neat place! A little off the beaten path, but worth the trip. Might want to make reservations for the tours - sound like they fill up fast. Make sure you pack a coat, it is a bit chilly down there.
We had some trouble getting here, Google maps had us on every unpaved road in the area. I suggest staying on the highways, even if it adds a bit to your time.
The cave tour was excellent! There were kids off all ages on the tour and they all loved it. Our guide was amazing.
We stayed in the camping cabins- Lily. It is a very nice one room cabin with two sets of bunk beds and a table. It has it's own porch and fire pit. The kids LOVED it. The cabin was clean and charming.
There were some problems. Where the cabin is located, there are only pit toilets. It was fine for most of the family, but the 5 year old was SURE she was going to fall in and was terrified. There are no showers in this area. The nearest showers are just a short hike or drive away, but they are practically in someone else's campsite so it was a little awkward. Lastly, there is NO CELL SERVICE here. A sign in the cabin says to call 911 from the pay phone at the office if you need help, but that is REALLY far away. It would not be possible for one of the kids to get there if they needed help. We opted to sleep with the windows closed for safety and it was so hot! Overall, the cabins are a great place if you are looking for privacy and a place to be at one with nature.
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Forestville Mystery Cave State Park
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