Best things to do at Flandrau State Park in New Ulm, MN sunset

One of the best state parks in Minnesota for hiking and swimming is Flandrau State Park in New Ulm. Here you’ll find scenic overlooks and trails through the woods and grasslands and along a goat prairie and the Cottonwood River. Additionally, Flandrau State Park offers a sand-bottom pond most of the summer and cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails in the winter. Camping is offered throughout the year with some limitations in the winter.

Flandrau State Park fun fact: This park is named after an early European settler and Minnesota statesman, Charles Eugene Flandrau, who is credited for Minnesota’s nickname: The Gopher State.

A sobering fact of historical significance: Flandrau State Park served as a World War II German prisoner-of-war camp. 

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See my related Minnesota state park series.

Top 10 things to do at Flandrau State Park in New Ulm, MN

Flandrau State Park in New Ulm, MN hiking trail with bridge

Here are the top 10 things to do at Flandrau State Park in New Ulm, Minnesota.

  1. Hike the eight miles of trails at Flandrau State Park.
  2. Take the optional Hiking Club scenic trail for gorgeous views.
  3. Swim at the sand-bottom pond.
  4. Go camping – traditional tent and RV sites as well as a group campground with bunkhouses and year-round camper cabins.
  5. Explore and learn about the historic buildings built by Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Program Administration.
  6. Fish on the Cottonwood River that weaves through Flandrau State Park.
  7. Sign up for fun family special events like a glow hike at night or learn more about birds and nature.  
  8. Play cornhole / bean bags, volleyball, horseshoes or at the natural playground area for children.
  9. Reserve the enclosed picnic shelter (available year-round) or claim any of the picnic tables.
  10. Winter fans can hike, cross-country ski, or snowshoe at Flandrau State Park.

Frequently asked questions about Flandrau State Park in New Ulm, Minnesota

Flandrau State Park in New Ulm, MN scenic view

Where is Flandrau State Park located? What is the address for Flandrau State Park?

Flandrau State Park is located at 1300 Summit Avenue, New Ulm, MN 55073.

When is Flandrau State Park open?

Flandrau State Park is open year-round, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day.

Is Flandrau State Park free? How much is the admission fee at Flandrau State Park?

Flandrau State Park in Minnesota only costs $7 per vehicle per day ($5 per motorcycle). That includes unlimited visits to all Minnesota state parks on the same day. I highly recommend an annual pass, which gives you entrance to all Minnesota state parks. See the Minnesota DNR website for more information. And it’s highly recommended to pay online ahead of time. Minnesota state parks are no longer accepting cash self-payment envelopes on site.

Admission to every Minnesota state park is free for all Minnesota state tribal members.

You can also visit Flandrau State Park on any of the four free state park days in Minnesota. See my related post for this year’s free state park days.

Does Flandrau State Park have a lake, river, or waterfall?

Flandrau State Park in New Ulm, MN sunset on the river

Yes. Flandrau State Park features the Cottonwood River and offers a swimming pond in the summer.

Can you fish at Flandrau State Park in Minnesota?

Yes. You can fish on the Cottonwood River at Flandrau State Park. Check fishing conditions as sometimes the river is pretty low.

Does Flandrau State Park have a swimming beach?

Flandrau State Park in New Ulm, MN sandy beach swimming pond

Yes. Flandrau State Park features a small, sandy-bottom swimming pond and beach. The season begins the Friday after Memorial Day and ends the third weekend in August. Typical hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (with lifeguards) Thursdays through Sundays.

Only Coast Guard-approved life jackets are allowed. No rafts, wings, tubes, noodles, or kickboards allowed. The swimming pond at Flandrau is fenced off and no dogs are allowed.

Can you boat at Flandrau State Park? Does Flandrau State Park offer a boat ramp with trailer access?

As of this post’s publication date, carry-in access sites to the Cottonwood River at Flandrau State Park are closed due to flood damage. Which must have happened earlier in the year as the Cottonwood River seemed a little dry when hiking nearby in August 2023. However, the Cottonwood River is canoeable for 58 miles beginning in Springfield, Minnesota. Check out the Minnesota DNR website for the Cottonwood River segments and maps.

Does Flandrau State Park have a campground? Can you camp at Flandrau State Park.

Yes, Flandrau State Park offers a semi-modern campground, a non-electric campground, a rustic campground, a group campground with bunkhouses, a cabin, and camper cabins.

  • 34 electric campsites
  • 17 non-electric campsites
  • 36 rustic campsites .
  • 3 walk-in sites
  • 2 pull-through sites
  • 1 wheelchair-accessible campsite
  • Group center with eight bunkhouses can accommodate 70+ campers
  • 1 seasonal cabin
  • 2 camper cabins available year-round (Thursday – Sunday)
  • RV length limit is 66 feet

A beginner’s guide

SUV Camping 101

How big is Flandrau State Park in Minnesota?

Flandrau State Park covers 1,000 acres.

Is Flandrau State Park buggy? Mosquitos? Ticks?

Flandrau State Park did not seem buggy. However, I always wear picaridin to ward off ticks and mosquitoes. And I love Aunt Fannie’s DEET-free mosquito wipes.

Box of DEET-free mosquito repellent wipes
I cannot recommend Aunt Fannie’s DEET-free Mosquito Wipes highly enough. I am a mosquito magnet, but they stay away when I apply these wipes. My link does include a referral code, which means I’ll receive a small compensation – but I only recommend products and services I would use myself. And I definitely use Aunt Fannie’s – I bought a case of them and give to family and friends. And they smell good and are good for the environment – biodegradable and no harsh chemicals!

See my full review of what to pack on a day hike.

How long and how difficult are the hiking trails at Flandrau State Park?

Flandrau State Park in New Ulm, MN scenic view with park bench

Flandrau State Park features 8 miles of hiking trails, all of which are fairly easy. If you take the optional scenic route off the ~ 3-mile Hiking Club Trail, expect 95 steps ups. And then 95 steps down. Since when are scenic routes optional? The view is worth the detour.

Snowshoeing or cross-country skiing trails at Flandrau State Park?

Yes. Flandrau State Park offers six miles of groomed cross-country skiing trails and two miles of ungroomed snowshoe trails.

Are hiking poles needed on the trails at Flandrau State Park?

No hiking poles are needed on the trails at Flandrau State Park. Unless you need the extra leverage and support climbing up and down 95 steps on the option scenic trail.

What are the best views at Flandrau State Park?

Flandrau State Park in New Ulm, MN scenic view

The best view at Flandrau State Park is the overlook on the optional scenic trail – just off the Hiking Club Trail. Sunset views alongside the Cottonwood Trail are also stunning.  

Are there bike trails at Flandrau State Park?

No, Flandrau State Park does not offer a bike trail.

Does Flandrau State Park have horse trails?

No. Flandrau State Park does not offer horse trails.

Does Flandrau State Park have a visitor center? Modern restrooms?

No. Flandrau State Park does not have a visitor center. However, you will find the park office near the entrance.

The semi-modern campground at Flandrau State Park offers modern flush restrooms. You’ll also find showers and restrooms near the swimming pond (when open). Additionally, you’ll find vault toilets year-round. .

Is Flandrau State Park dog-friendly?

Yes. Leashed dogs and pets are welcome on Flandrau State Park hiking trails. However, dogs are not allowed inside buildings or inside the fenced-in swimming beach area. All Minnesota state parks welcome dogs except inside buildings, including camper cabins (with the exception of service dogs). Leashes must be six feet or less.

Are there bears at Flandrau State Park?

Bear sightings are not common at Flandrau State Park.

Is firewood available at Flandrau State Park?

Yes. You can purchase firewood at the park office when open. Or buy certified safe-to-move firewood from a gas station. Additionally, download the Yodel app to purchase firewood at Minnesota state parks. You can also purchase your vehicle permits from the Yodel app.

Why can’t you bring in your own firewood? To protect Minnesota trees, you can only burn certified wood on MN DNR land. Collection is not allowed in state parks and you may not bring firewood from home. This helps prevent spreading harmful insects and diseases.

How far is Flandrau State Park from the Twin Cities – Minneapolis and St. Paul (MSP) airport?

Flandrau State Park is located 93 miles from the Minneapolis – St. Paul (MSP) International Airport.

What’s near Flandrau State Park? Top things to do near Flandrau State Park?

Flandrau State Park in New Ulm, MN wildflowers

Flandrau State Park is located right in the quaint city of New Ulm, Minnesota. Highly recommend a visit to what’s known as the most German town in the U.S.

  • Tour the Schell’s Brewery – the second-oldest family-owned brewery in the U.S. (founded in 1860) – includes a beer tasting. Check out their events page to learn more about their Oktoberfest and Bockfest (held in the spring).
  • Stay at one of the charming bed and breakfasts in New Ulm.
  • Climb the staircase of the 102-foot monument that features the Hermann the Cheruscan – an ancient German hero symbolizing honor and pride. Open daily Memorial Day to Labor Day, the weekends during May and September. And then open Friday through Sunday during Oktoberfest.
  • Are you planning to hike all 66 Minnesota state parks? Then I recommend also checking out nearby Fort Ridgely State Park, which is 22 miles from Flandrau State Park. Read more about my experience at Fort Ridgely State Park.
  • One of the other best state parks nearby is Minneopa State Park in Mankato, Minnesota. Located 23 miles from Flandrau State Park, Minneopa features a dramatic two-tiered waterfall, hiking trails and a drive-through bison range. Read my full review of Minneopa State Park.

When was Flandrau State Park in Minnesota established?

Founded in 1937, Flandrau State Park was originally named Cottonwood State Park (after the river that runs through it). And was established during The Great Depression to create jobs.

How did Flandrau State Park get its name?

Flandrau State Park in New Ulm, MN sign

Cottonwood State Park was renamed Flandrau to honor Charles E. Flandrau. He served during the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 and as a member of the first Minnesota Supreme Court. Additionally, Flandrau helped draft the Minnesota constitution.

Does Flandrau State Park host deer hunts? Is Flandrau State Park closed during deer season?

No. Flandrau State Park does not typically host deer hunts during deer hunting season.

For a complete list of which Minnesota state parks are closed or limited to the public during deer season, see my post: Hiker safety: MN state parks that host deer hunts.

Hiking safety tip during deer season: Wear bright orange when hiking during deer season. I typically avoid hiking at all even if the state park is partially open to non-hunters.

A list of the best Minnesota state parks

Flandrau State Park in New Ulm, MN hiking trail

All Minnesota state parks are the best in my opinion. You can read reviews of each one to create your own list of top-ranked Minnesota state parks: Take the Minnesota state park challenge

  • Afton State Park | Hastings, MN (26 miles)
  • Banning State Park | Sandstone, MN (97 miles)
  • Bear Head Lake State Park | Ely, MN (240 miles)
  • Beaver Creek Valley State Park | Caledonia, MN (148 miles)
  • Big Stone Lake State Park | Ortonville, MN (186 miles)
  • Blue Mounds State Park | Luverne, MN (208 miles)
  • Buffalo River State Park | Glyndon, MN (240 miles)
  • Camden State Park | Lynd, MN (161 miles)
  • Carley State Park | Plainview, MN (88 miles)
  • Cascade River State Park | Lutsen, MN (257 miles)
  • Charles A. Lindbergh State Park | Little Falls, MN (112 miles)
  • Crow Wing State Park | Brainerd, MN (134 miles)
  • Father Hennepin State Park | Isle, MN (113 miles)
  • Flandrau State Park | New Ulm, MN (93 miles)
  • Forestville / Mystery Cave State Park | Preston, MN (115 miles)
  • Fort Ridgely State Park | Fairfax, MN (99 miles)
  • Fort Snelling State Park | Bloomington / St. Paul, MN (2 miles)
  • Franz Jevne State Park | Birchdale, MN (336 miles)
  • Frontenac State Park | Frontenac, MN (62 miles)
  • George H. Crosby Manitou State Park | Finland, MN (231 miles)
  • Glacial Lakes State Park | Starbuck, MN (156 miles)
  • Glendalough State Park | Battle Lake, MN (194 miles)
  • Gooseberry Falls | Two Harbors, MN (197 miles)
  • Grand Portage State Park | Grand Portage, MN (308 miles)
  • Great River Bluffs State Park | Winona, MN (136 miles)
  • Hayes Lake State Park | Roseau, MN (343 miles)
  • Hill Annex Mine State Park | Calumet, MN (197 miles)
  • Interstate State Park / Taylors Falls State Park | Taylors Falls, MN (56 miles)
  • Itasca State Park | Park Rapids, MN (219 miles)
  • Jay Cooke State Park | Thomson, MN (146 miles)
  • John A. Latsch State Park | Winona, MN (99 miles)
  • Judge C.R. Magney State Park | Grand Marais, MN (282 miles)
  • Kilen Woods State Park | Lakefield, MN (153 miles)
  • Lac qui Parle State Park | Watson, MN (141 miles)
  • Lake Bemidji State Park | Bemidji, MN (230 miles)
  • Lake Bronson State Park | Karlstad, MN (409 miles)
  • Lake Carlos State Park | Alexandria, MN (152 miles)
  • Lake Louise State Park | Le Roy, MN (113 miles)
  • Lake Maria State Park | Monticello, MN (60 miles)
  • Lake Shetek State Park | Currie, MN (168 miles)
  • Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine State Park | Soudan, MN (229 miles)
  • McCarthy Beach State Park | Side Lake, MN (227 miles)
  • Maplewood State Park | Pelican Rapids, MN (217 miles)
  • Mille Lacs Kathio State Park | Onamia, MN (108 miles)
  • Minneopa State Park | Mankato, MN (82 miles)
  • Monson Lake State Park | Sunburg, MN (141 miles)
  • Moose Lake State Park | Moose Lake, MN (116 miles)
  • Myre-Big Island State Park | Albert Lea, MN (93 miles)
  • Nerstrand Big Woods State Park | Nerstrand, MN (52 miles)
  • Old Mill State Park | Argyle, MN (350 miles)
  • Rice Lake State Park | Owatonna, MN (70 miles)
  • St. Croix State Park | Hinckley, MN (105 miles)
  • Sakatah Lake State Park | Waterville, MN (60 miles)
  • Savanna Portage State Park | Northeast Aitkin, MN (149 miles)
  • Scenic State Park | Bigfork, MN (232 miles)
  • Schoolcraft State Park | Deer River, MN (198 miles)
  • Sibley State Park | New London, MN (128 miles)
  • Split Rock Creek State Park | Jasper, MN (202 miles)
  • Split Rock Lighthouse State Park | Two Harbors, MN (204 miles)
  • Temperance River State Park | Schroeder, MN (239 miles)
  • Tettegouche State Park | Silver Bay, MN (217 miles)
  • Upper Sioux Agency State Park | Granite Falls, MN (122 miles)
  • Whitewater State Park | Altura, MN (99 miles)
  • Wild River State Park | Center City, MN (58 miles)
  • William O’Brien State Park | Scandia / Marine on the St. Croix, MN (43 miles)
  • Zippel Bay State Park | Williams, MN (345 miles)

Pin it for later: A local’s guide to Flandrau State Park in Minnesota

Please share and pin this guide for when you visit Flandrau State Park in New Ulm, MN – one of the best historic Minnesota state parks.

Flandrau State Park in New Ulm, MN

Flandrau State Park in New Ulm, MN

Twin Cities-based blogger sharing memorable emptynester, solo, family and girlfriend-getaway adventures, as well as my day hiking adventures (including all 66 Minnesota state parks), latest book reviews, and updates on my quest for the best adult mac and cheese. Also two WIPs: historical fiction and psychological thriller


  1. Flandrau State Park looks like a beautiful spot to visit. I love that it’s got a bit of everything and you only have to pay for parking. Although I would probably opt for an annual pass if I lived in the area.

  2. Hiking, swimming, camping, cornhole and volleyball all in one place? Sign me up! I love being out in nature, and Flandrau State Park sounds like a great place to embrace the outdoors! I’d also enjoy a visit to Schell’s Brewery. New Ulm sounds like a fun area! Thanks for sharing; I’m hoping we can make it to this area someday. Xx Sara

  3. Thanks for this informative post on Flandrau state park in Minnesota! I would love to climb staircase of the 102-foot monument featuring th German hero. Staying at a bnb in New Ulm would be convenient to check out the park and do the interesting hikes. 🙂

  4. WOW have you explored a lot of state parks.. I do agree they are a wonderful way to learn about the Minnesota… and I love the rec on the mosquito wipes…totally ordering them!

  5. This post answers so many questions about Flandrau State Park – so comprehensive. Great post! I hope I get to visit someday. I would love to see those sunsets!

  6. I’m interested in the quaint town of New Ulm, MN! Flandrau State Park sounds like a great place to visit! We actually just visited a state park in Indiana today that used to be a prisoner of war camp (among other things). It does put things in perspective, doesn’t it?!

  7. Beautiful views and I bet an even lovelier walk in person! I love the fact that all your state parks (well most) can be bigger than some of our mountain ranges here!

  8. Another gorgeous Minnesota State Park. Flandrau State Park offers so much! Thank you for sharing.

  9. You certainly captured my attention with that first image of the colourful sky! A great spot for panoramic views. Flandrau State Park in New Ulm looks like a great spot for summer fun with swimming and hiking. Even with its sad history! Good to know there are some easier hiking trails.

  10. Flandrau State Park looks like a beautiful spot to explore. I love that it’s got a bit of everything and you only have to pay for parking. If I lived in the area I’d probably purchase an annual pass. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Wow -There are quite a lot of state parks in Minnesota! Flandrau is quite stunning. Camping and enjoying those beautiful sunsets and the swimming pool would be awesome.

    1. We do have a lot of beautiful state parks in Minnesota. Flandrau is so beautiful with its trails and the swimming pond is perfect in the summer.

    1. Then you would love Minnesota! Lots of things to do especially at the state parks like X-skiing, winter hiking, snowshoeing, and more..

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