Popular “candlelight walks” at Minnesota’s state parks begin again for the season, first this afternoon (4-8pm) at Fort Snelling State Park and then at a number of other state parks in the coming weeks. Naturalist Krista Jensen says her favorite time: “All of the candles, right about four o’clock, as the sun is starting to go down and it’s still light out, but it’s that dusk and it’s just this beautiful purple and blue, and then you have the gold from the candles going. ‘Magical’ is just the best word for it.” After a hike along trails lit by luminaries, visitors can warm up around a bonfire and enjoy a cup of hot cider or cocoa.
The walks at dusk come at the time of year when daylight hours are shortest. Jensen says, “We’re gonna take back a little bit of the day by lighting it up and being outside and being with our family and friends.”
For a complete list of dates and locations, visit the Minnesota D-N-R’s website and type “candlelight” into the search box.
Much more in this interview:
DNR’s news release:
Candlelight events begin Dec. 31 at Minnesota state parks and trails
Not that many decades ago, Minnesotans lit the farmland and countryside only with the use of lanterns. This winter, people can get the same visual effect at the popular annual candlelight events at Minnesota state parks and trails.
Each year, many staff and volunteers line trails with lanterns, candles and other luminaries. Visitors can then walk, snowshoe or cross-country ski those trails, depending on the event and the amount of snow. After hitting the trails, they can warm up with hot cocoa or cider in the visitor center or around a bonfire.
More than 30 candlelight events are scheduled at Minnesota state parks and trails this winter, starting Dec. 31 and continuing through early March, according to the Department of Natural Resources. A few events include these:
- 4-8 p.m. Monday, Dec. 31, at Fort Snelling State Park, St. Paul.
- 5:30-8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, at Lake Maria State Park, Monticello.
- 6-8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16, Whitewater State Park, Altura.
For the complete schedule—including dates, times and other details—visit mndnr.gov/candlelight.
“Few things transform a winter evening like soft light on snow,” said Erika Rivers, director of Minnesota state parks and trails. “Candles and lanterns help to create an unforgettable experience, especially beneath the light from a starry sky and full moon.”
Snowshoes and cross-country skis can be rented or checked out at some parks. Fees are typically $6 per person for snowshoes and $10 per person for skis, boots and poles. Call in advance to confirm the availability of equipment if needed.
The candlelight events are free, but a vehicle permit is required to enter Minnesota state parks ($7 for a one-day permit or $35 for a year-round permit). Permits can be purchased at the park, but visitors can avoid waiting in line by getting one in advance at mndnr.gov/reservations.
Skiers age 16 and older also need the Great Minnesota Ski Pass to participate in the candlelight ski events. The ski pass ($6/day or $20/season) allows access to hundreds of miles of trails in state parks, state forests, city parks and other public lands throughout Minnesota (visit mndnr.gov/skiing/skipass/list.html for a complete list and map).
For information on snow depth and trail conditions, visit mndnr.gov/snow_depth.
Note that events may be changed or canceled due to weather. For updates, call the park or the DNR Information Center, 888-646-6367 (8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday).