Canoeists and kayakers are being encouraged to come out and paddle together along the Minnesota River Saturday, as part of the state's National Get Outdoors Day campaign.
The Department of Natural Resources wants enough paddlers to sign up to cover the entire length of the Minnesota River – all 318 miles – from the state's western border to its confluence with the Mississippi River at Fort Snelling, according to the Associated Press.
According to the DNR, that's never been done before.
The DNR describes the Minnesota River as "gentle and placid," which means that paddlers of any level can participate in the outing along at least some sections. The scenery along the river valley ranges from steep granite bluffs to marshy lowlands.
Participants can paddle a section of the river on their own that day, or sign up to join one of the organized groups that will paddle various sections all along the river, from the headwaters in Ortonville at Big Stone Lake State Park to the end at Fort Snelling State Park, the Associated Press says.
You can find out more about the "River in a Day" event or sign up for one of the paddle groups on the DNR's website.
Minnesota water trails
The Minnesota River is one of 33 designated "water trails" the DNR manages throughout Minnesota, which total 4,528 miles; however, that's only a small fraction of the 69,000 miles of natural rivers and streams in the state.
Water trails are marked routes along rivers, lakes and other navigable waterways that are designed for use by canoeists, kayakers 0r other small non-motorized boaters.
The water trails have marked access points and take-outs, as well as places along the shore to stop for picnicking or camping.
The DNR has an interactive map of all the state's marked water trails.
Get Outdoors Day
National Get Outdoors Day (GO Day) is now in its eighth year, and is an effort to encourage people to enjoy traditional and non-traditional outdoor activities, according to the organization.
Its main goals are "reaching currently underserved populations and first-time visitors to public lands, and reconnecting our youth to the great outdoors."
All 75 of Minnesota's state parks and recreation areas will have free admission on GO Day on Saturday, and many of them have special events like hiking, geocaching, camping, birding and various kids activities.
Minnesota residents can also fish for free – without a license – in most Minnesota state parks. More information is here.