Exploring Minnesota

A family’s tour of Minnesota State Parks goes electric

August 2020

As many across Minnesota look for new ways to explore the outdoors this summer, Bjorn Watland of Saint Paul and his family found a way to do so with the help of their electric vehicle.

An active member of the MN EV Owners community, Watland shared on social media how he and his family organized weekend road trips to Minnesota state parks using their electric vehicle, a growing network of EV chargers, and a little creativity.

We wanted to visit all of the state parks with our five year old and this was a good way to spend weekends together, get some exercise and see some interesting nature. We visited every Minnesota state park in an EV, except for Garden Island State Park, which is an island.

Bjorn Watland, Saint Paul electric vehicle owner

The adventure started with the family’s first trip to Afton State Park in March. Then, throughout weekends in May, June, and July, the family planned visits to the remaining parks.

“On a good weekend, we could usually visit six or seven parks, sometimes more, spending about an hour at each park to hike and find geocaches,” Watland explained.

Fitting in multiple stops and longer trips required accounting for their vehicle’s range and available charging infrastructure.

“We have a long range Tesla Model 3, so much of the state can be reached by charging at Superchargers,” Watland noted.

Although EV charging infrastructure is growing in Minnesota and some state parks, including Big Bog State Recreation Area and the Tettegouche State Park Visitor’s Center, have EV charging onsite, there are still gaps in remote areas of the state.

Looking only at PlugShare, an online map displaying available EV charging nationwide, Watland was not certain visiting all the state parks would be possible. This meant the family had to get creative about where and how to charge their vehicle.

"Rather than renting a car," Watland shared, "we looked into camping at state parks. Many parks have electric camping spaces for RVs. That was the ticket to traveling all the way from Ely to Hallock across the whole north of the state."

The Watland family would plug in their EV at their campsite and let it charge overnight, giving them time to set up camp and enjoy the surrounding park. When the vehicle had enough of a charge the following day, the Watlands were off on their EV road trip to the next park on their list.

Rather than renting a car, we looked into camping at state parks. Many parks have electric camping spaces for RVs. That was the ticket to traveling all the way from Ely to Hallock across the whole north of the state.

Bjorn Watland, Saint Paul electric vehicle owner

Ready to plan your family's EV adventure?

If you already own an electric vehicle, you know how convenient and quiet they are, and how fun they are to drive! Now is the time to plan your family's road trip, and there are lots of places to go.

If you don't own an EV, now is a great time to explore your options and start driving electric. Minnesota has an ambitious vision for growing the state's charging network, much of which is already underway. Some of this expansion is being funded by the Volkwagen Settlement, and other growth will come from forward-looking cities, campuses, and employers, utilities like Xcel Energy, Great River Energy, and Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency, and many more.


Explore Minnesota State Parks and electric vehicle charging stations

Find a state park by location mapGarden Island State Recreation AreaZippel Bay State ParkLake Bronson State ParkHayes Lake State ParkFranz Jevne State ParkBig Bog State Recreation AreaOld Mill State ParkRed River State Recreation AreaLake Vermilion - Soudan Underground Mine State ParkGrand Portage State ParkBear Head Lake State ParkJudge C.R. Magney State ParkKodunce River State WaysideLake Bemidji State ParkCascade River State ParkTemperance River State ParkScenic State ParkGeorge Crosby Manitou State ParkTettegouche State ParkSplit Rock State ParkBuffalo River State ParkRay Berglund State WaysideGooseberry State ParkMcCarthy Beach State ParkIron Range Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation AreaLa Salle State Recreation AreaHill Annex Mine State ParkSchoolcraft State ParkItasca State ParkSavanna Portage State ParkJay Cooke State ParkMoose Lake State ParkMaplewood State ParkCaribou Falls State WaysideFlood Bay State WaysideInspiration Peak State WaysideCuyuna Country State Recreation AreaCrow Wing State ParkGlendalough State ParkFather Hennepin State ParkBanning State ParkSt. Croix State ParkLake Carlos State ParkMille Lacs Kathio State ParkCharles A. Lindbergh State ParkGlacial Lakes State ParkWild River State ParkInterstate State ParkWilliam O'Brien State ParkLake Maria State ParkBig Stone Lake State ParkSibley State ParkSt. Croix IslandsMonson Lake State ParkGreenleaf Lake State Recreation AreaFort Snelling State ParkLac qui Parle State ParkAfton State ParkUpper Sioux Agency State ParkMinnesota Valley State Recreation AreaFrontenac State ParkJohn A. Latsch State ParkGreat River Bluffs State ParkFort Ridgely State ParkNerstrand Big Woods State ParkBeaver Creek Valley State ParkCamden State ParkCarley State ParkWhitewater State ParkRice Lake State ParkSakatah Lake State ParkForestville/Mystery Cave State ParkLake Louise State ParkMyre Big Island State ParkMinneopa State ParkFlandrau State ParkLake Shetek State ParkKilen Woods State ParkBlue Mounds State ParkSplit Rock Creek State ParkSam Brown Memorial State WaysideJoseph R. Brown State WaysideBoom Site State Wayside

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