Family trip report – Whitewater State Park

30 06 2009

We had an absolutely fantastic time on our camping trip this past weekend to Whitewater State Park, near Rochester, Minnesota.  Our friends Matt & Jamie, along with their little ones Isabella and Grant, and Adam & Julie along with their son Kyle joined us for the getaway.

Had a little hiccup to start since the park had our reservations for Thursday and Friday night instead of Fri/Sat – Jason swears that it was the online reservation site’s fault.  Since the campground was full for the weekend we asked Matt & Jamie if we could pitch our tent on their site since their site could fit about 5 tents.  Here’s a pic of our tent along with Matt & Jason:

whitesite

Of the 3 groups camping, we had the smallest tent (Kelty Mantra 5 person).  The other 2 had gigantic circus tents complete with closets, screened porches, and dirty laundry stashes.  Kallen asked me why we don’t have a big tent and I said that we like to be all nice and cozy & be close together.  I don’t see a need for a bigger tent – we just use it for sleeping anyway & I’m the type of person that is happy just making do with what we got.

The first day we scouted out the grounds and let the boys play down by the Whitewater river.  Right now dump trucks, diggers, backhoes, etc, are Noah’s favorite thing to do.  He plays with them in the sand, rocks, water, and dirt for hours.

Grant, Noah (in green) and Kyle playing dump trucks in the water and rocks.

Grant, Noah (in green) and Kyle playing dump trucks in the water and rocks.

That night we got about 1/2 inch of rain and it thundered like nothing I’ve heard before.  The park is situated deep in a valley and the thunder rumbles through it for what seems like an eternity.  I didn’t sleep much but the boys didn’t even flinch.  What’s really cool about being deep in the valley with constant running water is that there are no mosquitos.  The park ranger told us that he has been around here for over 20 years and hasn’t put on bug spray once.  And you know what – we didn’t see or feel a darn one the entire weekend.

The second day started with some yummy lucky charms:

campbreakfast

After breakfast we hiked the Trout Run trail and Jason tried his luck fly fishing along the way. I loved everything about the trails except there were tons of itchweed everywhere.  I stayed out of it, but not Noah. It seemed he was always running into the stuff.

Jason, Kallen and Maggie ahead of me on the trail.

Jason, Kallen and Maggie ahead of me on the trail.

We climed up some pretty steep steps to get up to “Inspiration Point” (how cheesy is that?) and veered off the path for some impromptu rock climbing.  Maggie (dog) couldn’t follow us up and was frantically panting and whining until we came back down.  Here we are at the top overlooking the bluff valley:

boysinspt

inspirpt

After the hike, we went back to camp for lunch and to pack swim stuff for the beach.  The park has a swim beach across the road from the campground which is some backwater from the river.  Park staff hauls in sand from sandstone to make the beach just like the ones in California (okay make not just like Cali).  The water is super cold because it is fed by the constantly running Whitewater river.  In order to swim in warmer water, the kids made their own “Hillbilly Hot Tub”.  Since the temps were in the high 80’s it didn’t take long for the water to warm up.

Isabella, Kallen and Noah soaking in the hot tub

Isabella, Kallen and Noah soaking in the hot tub

The next morning Jason got up before the rest of us and had quite a bit of luck fishing.  Of course when I was going to try fishing the same spot later on, there were already 2 guys who beat me there.

Jason's brown trout

Jason's brown trout

While Jason was fishing I took Bella and the boys up to the visitor/nature center.  It’s a really cool spot with visual exhibits, educational movies, and all kinds of real (some living, some not) animals and birds.  After that I packed up some lunch and we hit the trail again, this time heading up Chimney point:

chimneyboys

After this hike, we went to the visitor center to rent a GPS unit to try our luck at Geocaching.  This is something we’ve wanted to try and since this state park is one of 25 demo parks (has classes and free GPS unit rentals), we thought now would be a great time to get started.  In addition to finding the “cache”, all 72 of the Minnesota State parks have Wildlife Safari cards that kids can collect at each cache location:  http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/geocaching/safari/index.html

I haven’t visited any other state parks outside of Minnesota, but I think that we have some darn awesome parks because they have lots of educational and fun programs for families.  We enjoyed going on our first geocache hunt so much, we intend to continue doing it on a regular basis.  We plan to get a journal for Kallen to keep information such as:  date, location, what we found, and what we left behind.  The Whitewater park one has 2 paper clues for you to find before you reach your cache destination.  Ironically we had to climb back up chimney point for our cache:

We found it!

We found it!

This cache was a metal box chained around a rock.  We opened it up and there were all sorts of trinkets and a log book.  You write your name and date in the log book and you can take a trinket if you wish – as long as you leave something else in it’s place.  We left a can cooler because who doesn’t need one of those?  I believe it said “Let’s play Hammerschlagen”.

Kallen took a glitter key chain from the cache along with his MN state park critter card.  The one for Whitewater is a timber rattlesnake.

Kallen took a glitter key chain from the cache along with his MN state park critter card. The one for Whitewater is a timber rattlesnake.

After we were done geocaching, I finally got my chance to try fly fishing.  There is this one spot that you could see a school of about 20 brown trout but they just didn’t want my bait.  The water is so amazingly clear here.  The trout sit in a pool about 6 feet deep and since I can see them, that means they can see me and that’s no good.  I didn’t catch anything, but I was just happy getting to try out the sport.  For me it was a success because I didn’t break Jason’s rod, the line or even lose a fly.

My first time fly fishing.  View from the shore of Trout Run Creek.

My first time fly fishing. View from the shore of Trout Run Creek.

I highly recommend this park for family camping because it has so much to do:  both flat and challenging hiking trails, sandy swim beach, trout fishing, visitor center with weekend educational programs AND NO MOSQUITOS!  We already booked our reservations for next year………

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One response

30 06 2009
Isabel's Mommy

I love the Hillbilly hot tub!

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