MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — As the last drops of maple syrup are collected from Fort Snelling State Park, it can mean only one thing — the sights and sounds of spring are coming back.

Brent Wennberg has been enjoying Minnesota’s state parks since he was 2.

“It’s great to have winter over with, I will say that,” Wennberg said with a laugh.

He’s one of a growing number of people across the state planning summer vacations, and taking advantage of what the parks have to offer.

“I must say that my wife is a huge birder, so when we come to the parks we spend a lot of time seeing what’s going on with the birds and the varieties and that sort of thing,” Wennberg said.

Birds aren’t the only wildlife you’ll find.

“Right here at Fort Snelling State Park, in the center of Minneapolis and St. Paul, you can see wild turkeys and deer,” the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ Erika Rivers said.

Wennberg says Fort Snelling State Park brings nature right into the middle of the metro area.

“This is a fun place to go,” Wennberg said.

And there are a lot of fun things to do, from camping to hiking to fishing.

“You absolutely don’t need to be an expert,” Rivers said. “We’ll provide the expert for you. We give you the equipment to use while you’re experiencing these great activities.”

Fort Snelling tops the list of the state’s most-visited parks, followed by Gooseberry Falls near Duluth, Itasca, Tettegouche and Jay Cooke state parks.

But no matter which one you pick, you’re almost certain to have a good time.

“First day of spring is a great opportunity for people to start planning their summer vacations,” Rivers said.

Click here to sign up for one of the “I Can” programs, or make a campsite reservation online by clicking here or call 866-857-2757.

There are still a lot of options available for Memorial Day, but they will start booking up.

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