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Minnesota State Parks

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Southern Region
Flandrau State Park
Flandrau State Park downy woodpecker © Nancy Bauer
Common Loon ©
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1300 Summit Avenue
New Ulm, Minnesota   56073

Phone: 507-233-9800
Toll Free: 888-646-6367
Reservations: 866-857-2757
Email: park email button icon
The gentle flowing Big Cottonwood River meanders through this southern park. The sand-bottom swimming pond, picnic area, campgrounds and group center attract many visitors every summer to this very popular state park. The terrain is diverse, offering views of wooded river bottoms, oxbow marshes and open grasslands. Hikers and cross-country skiers enjoy the flat trails on the bottom of the valley or more challenging routes on the oak-shaded bluffs. Visit historic stone buildings crafted by Works Progress Administration(WPA)crews. Vegetative features include goat prairies, small white lady's slippers, and the floodplain forest.
Nature of the Area
Flandrau is on the eastern edge of the Minnesota River Country region. The Dakota inhabitants thrived in the tallgrass prairie of the area with its interspersed marshes, lakes and streams. Today, extensive farming has replaced the prairie. At Flandrau, visitors may enjoy a diverse landscape that includes heavily wooded riverine areas, segments of oak forest and grassland areas along the bluffs. The main landscape type is floodplain forest. Large cottonwoods and other deciduous trees provide scenic beauty and habitat for both birds and wildlife.

Melturate (from melting glaciers) cut through 150 feet of rock, sand, clayand gravel deposited by glaciers during the Ice Age and formed the valley which is the Big Cottonwood River and Flandrau State Park. Under this glacial material is sandstone which was laid down millions of years ago by the great seas that once covered North America. Fossilized plant material and orange colored iron-oxide bands can be seen in the exposed sandstone near the park's eastern boundary.

White-tailed deer, raccoons and many types of birds common to wooded river bottom areas can be found in at Flandrau State Park.
History of the Area
Originally named Cottonwood River State Park, after the river that runs through it, Flandrau was the site of a Work Projects Administration (WPA) camp during the late 1930s and early 1940s. Several buildings in the park are beautiful examples of the architectural work done by the WPA. During part of the 1940s, the camp was used as a World War II German prisoner-of-war camp. Today, the old WPA camp is used as the park's modern group center, complete with eight cabins, a dining hall, restroom buildingsand a separate swimming pond. During this same era, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built a dam in the park, impounding a reservoir of approximately 200 acres on the Big Cottonwood River. After the dam was damaged by high water in 1947, 1965 and 1969, the remaining parts of the dam, including a spillway, were removed in 1995. The river now flows free through the park. The park was renamed Flandrau by the state legislature on March 15, 1945, to honor Charles E. Flandrau. He helped draft the first Minnesota constitution and was a member of the first Minnesota Supreme Court. He also played a prominent role in New Ulm during the U.S.-Dakota Conflict of 1862.
1. Flandrau State Park offers a sand-bottom swimming pool for visitors to enjoy.
2. The park's Cottonwood River also provides natural water bodies suitable for swimming.
3. Lifeguards are not always on duty, so swim with caution and supervise children closely.
4. Swimming is only allowed during designated hours; check the park schedule beforehand.
5. There are changing rooms available near the pool area for convenience of swimmers.

The park offers a variety of boating options for visitors. Canoe and kayak rentals are available, providing an excellent way to explore the Cottonwood River that flows through the area. There is also a sand-bottom swimming pool in case you prefer more controlled water activities. However, there aren't any motorized boat launches within this location due to its focus on preserving tranquility and nature.
Enjoy fishing in a sand-bottom swimming pond stocked with rainbow trout. Other species include catfish and smallmouth bass.

Flandrau State Park offers picnic tables, grills and a large group shelter for picnicking. There's also beachside seating available.
Biking enthusiasts should be aware that the park offers a 2.5-mile paved bike trail for leisurely rides.

Mountain biking is not available, as off-road cycling can damage delicate ecosystems and trails are not designed for it.

The terrain here includes both flat areas and gentle slopes, suitable even for less experienced cyclists.

Remember to always wear your helmet when bicycling; safety first!

During winter months, these paths may become impassable due to snowfall or icy conditions - plan accordingly.

Please respect other users of the path by maintaining appropriate speeds and yielding right-of-way where necessary.

It's important to note that rental bikes aren't provided on-site so bring your own equipment along with you.

Lastly, remember this area is home to diverse wildlife; please keep distance from animals while enjoying your ride!
The park offers a diverse range of bird species, ideal for avid birdwatchers. It's home to waterfowl and songbirds due to its mix of aquatic habitats and wooded areas. The Cottonwood River provides excellent opportunities for spotting river-associated birds as well.

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In New Ulm, follow Broadway (State Highway 15) to 10th Street South. Proceed west on 10th Street South up the hill to Summit Avenue. Then turn left heading south and proceed three blocks to the park entrance which will be on the right (west) side of Summit Avenue. Park entrance is right next to the New Ulm Country Club.

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Minnesota State Parks