The history of Glendalough State Park, in Otter Tail County near Battle Lake, is the photo negative of this. A few generations ago this amazing property of towering forests, lakes, creeks, rolling prairies and centuries of Minnesota history was a private game ranch and hunting / fishing area owned and used solely by a prominent Twin Cities family and their highlands became -powered friends.

Today the property is open to everyone with a crystal clear 335 hectare lake in the center. In the early 1990s, the wealthy Cowles family – former owners of the Minneapolis newspaper – donated the land and buildings to the Conservation Agency, which in 1992 gave it to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. A new state park was born.

In the midst of all of Glendalough’s natural wonders, there are some man-made spots that are must-see. The historic hunting and fishing lodge on the north shore of Annie Battle Lake has been preserved and renovated so visitors can see where late night card games were played and early morning fishing trips started. The photos shown are a treasure trove of 20th century outdoor lifestyles of the rich and famous and show former US Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon fishing the still waters of west-central Minnesota during visits to the lodge.

About a mile down the paved bike path, which is an easy six mile loop around the park, another amazing piece of history was discovered when the property was developed by the DNR.

“We always knew there was a Native American story here where the savannah and the lakes come together,” said Dan Malmstrom, of the Glendalough Citizens Advisory Board. “But what blew us away was when we did the bike path and the DNR came to do the geology and actually measure and map the trail … they uncovered earthen ovens that were the oldest ever in the State of Minnesota were discovered. We actually had to move the path. “

“There’s a growing population in Minnesota who want it to be. We’re trying to teach conservation responsibility, and the best way to do that is to keep it simple.”

– Dan Malmstrom, Glendalough Citizens’ Council

While swimming and fishing are popular in the summer, fishing is only old school by law. The waters in Glendalough have been designated Historic Lakes, meaning there are no motors (electric or gas) and no electronics. Malmstrom said the park is a place where “silent sports” are celebrated – canoeing, kayaking, biking, hiking, and the like. The pitches are only accessible for camping purposes; vehicles and mobile homes are not permitted. For a different camping experience, motorhome cabins and even two yurts can be rented on site. While cell service is definitely on-site and the community of Battle Lake is just a short bike ride away with a myriad of places to eat, drink, and shop, a visit to Glendalough is a step back in time.

“There’s a growing population in Minnesota who want it that way,” Malmstrom said. “We’re trying to teach conservation responsibility, and the best way to do that is to keep it simple.”

Remarkable close by

A 20 mile drive south of Glendalough reveals a geological anomaly in this region of rolling hills and lakes. Inspiration Summit Rises approximately 400 feet above the surrounding landscape to an altitude of more than 1,700 feet. A (lightly strenuous) hike to the top of this vista, designated a state highway in 1932, gives visitors breathtaking views of everything Minnesota has to offer: lakes, farms, forests, rolling prairies, and plenty of sky.

Legendary Minnesota writer Sinclair Lewis was a noted visitor to Inspiration Peak, once writing: “There is a magnificent 20-mile circle of about 50 lakes scattered in the fields and pastures like sequins on an old paisley -Scarf have fallen. “We won’t even bother to describe it better.

Second best thing to do

Equipment rentals are available on-site so you don’t have to own and bring a canoe, kayak, or bike to enjoy the park. Malmstrom and his organization have worked to build a network of a dozen miles of designated bike paths in the area, and the gently rolling topography makes it relatively easy and scenic to ride.