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305. Blue Mounds State Park, Luverne, Minnesota

This 1,500-acre park in southwestern Minnesota features prairies, meadows, marshlands and other bird-rich habitats.

This park’s abundant quartzite rock outcroppings, buffalo herd, and rare assemblage of tallgrass prairie wildflowers and grasses give it a unique appearance compared to the surrounding agricultural landscape.

The summer months offer the best birding opportunities at the 1,567-acre park. Both Eastern and Western Meadowlarks can be heard singing on the prairies in summer, and birders will be able to find Grasshopper and Henslow’s Sparrows (be sure to become familiar with the Henslow’s song). Bobolinks course over the prairies, treating visitors to their unique flight song.

Blue Grosbeaks as well as Baltimore and Orchard Orioles occur in brushy habitat, and Common Nighthawks nest in the prairie. Dickcissels and Indigo Buntings prefer similar habitat and add to the abundance of songs that can be heard in many locations within the park. Both Clay-colored, Vesper, and Chipping Sparrows are uncommon breeding species.

In areas with willows, cottonwood trees, and other woody vegetation, watch for Warbling Vireo, Yellow Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, and American Redstart. Wetlands host Sora, Sedge and Marsh Wrens, and four swallow species.

In winter, Northern Harrier, Rough-legged Hawk, and Short-eared and Snowy Owls can be seen, but all are uncommon. 

305. Blue Mounds State Park, Luverne, Minnesota

Directions

Blue Mounds State Park is a tallgrass prairie remnant located in southwestern Minnesota, just north of the town of Luverne. From Interstate 90, exit onto Hwy. 75 and go north for 3.3 miles to Rt. 8. Turn right and go 0.4 miles to a park entrance road. You can reach the park office and campground by staying on Hwy. 75 and turning right onto Rt. 20.

At a Glance

Click on the coordinates below to view location:
43°42’50.44″N 96°10’48.06″W

Habitat

Quartzite rock outcroppings, broad prairie expanses, wet meadow, marshland, a small lake, and other bodies of water.

Terrain

Thirteen miles of hiking trails and over 2 miles of bike trails along rocky outcroppings and through gently sloping prairie expanses. Road access provides multiple points of entry to park.

Birds

Winter: Rough-legged Hawk, Northern Harrier, Short-eared and Snowy Owls, Northern Shrike. Summer: Eastern and Spotted Towhees, Song, Savannah, Swamp, Henslow’s, and Grasshopper Sparrows, Bobolink, Yellow- and Black-billed Cuckoos, Blue Grosbeak, Common Nighthawk, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Virginia Rail, Sora, Eastern and Western Kingbirds.

When to go

Year-round. Spring, summer, and fall provide largest variety of birds.

Amenities

Office, interpretive center, campground, and a variety of trails. Free loaner birding kits available. Lodging and dining options in Luverne. Prairie and Bison Tours ($10 for adults, $6 for kids) were suspended in 2020 but may return in 2021.

Access

State park. Vehicle permit required; cost is $7 for one day or $35 for annual permit. Discounts available for residents with disabilities, veterans, military personnel, and educators. Open daily 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Campground open March 16-November 30; reservations at https://reservemn.usedirect.com/MinnesotaWeb/Default.aspx.

Tips

Bring insect repellent spring through fall. Check weather forecasts because many trail portions are located far from shelter, and visitors can be caught out in the open during a sudden thunderstorm.

COVID-19 rules

Bring your own water, soap, hand sanitizer, disinfectants, towels, and toilet paper. Ranger station and picnic shelter closed until further notice.

For more info

Blue Mounds State Park

Sites nearby

Pipestone National Monument
About 24 miles northwest of Blue Mounds. More than 175 bird species. Native tallgrass prairie attracts Bobolink, Dickcissel, Henslow’s Sparrow, and many other birds.

Northern Tallgrass Prairie National Wildlife Refuge
Protects remnant tracts of prairie in Minnesota and Iowa, most of it within eight units owned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Closest site to Blue Mounds is Touch the Sky Prairie. About 100 bird species.

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Eric Harrold

Eric Harrold is a naturalist, environmental educator, and tour guide. He studied Barred Owls as a graduate student and has worked on bird-conservation projects in the Midwest and East.

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