With last summer’s bummer of COVID-19 and quarantine, Minnesotan’s are itching to get out and enjoy the sunshine. To help the residents of Carver County, the Parks Department has plenty going on at their three parks for residents to try and enjoy. Whether it’s cooling off at the beach, having the kids try out a new camp, or just celebrating your family, the parks are ready and open for all to enjoy.

“All of our park restrictions are quote-unquote back to normal,” said Sam Pertz, CCP Parks and Trails Supervisor. “We’ve got things running and we’ve got quite a lot to do.”

It’s important to remember for anyone wanting to enjoy the parks to remember the fees: there are none. As of 2019, all parks are free to access anytime and any day, aside from when they need construction work of course. The decision was made by the commissioners so that everyone, regardless of circumstance, could enjoy the beautiful parks around Carver County.

There’s also plenty to do. At Baylor Park in Norwood Young America, the observatory is back in business. Last year’s Star Parties had to be severely limited due to the pandemic and park restrictions. With those restrictions lifted, Star Parties are returning to normalcy for any would-be star gazers in the community.

Baylor’s campground is also ready for any campers. Of course, the big challenge is the fact that last summer was pretty boring for many people. This means that reservations are filling up fast at the campground, so if you want to enjoy the grounds, make your reservations fast and early.

“Camp reservations filled fast,” said Pertz. “There are some left, but definitely reserve early.”

After months of construction, Lake Waconia Regional Park is ready for residents once again. The beach is open, so anyone looking to sunbathe or cool off this summer can enjoy taking a dip in the largest lake Carver County has. The boat launch is also finished, so fishers, tubers, and water skiers can get out on the water. Anyone not interested in the beach is able to enjoy the rest of the park to the fullest, including the trails and picnic areas. The same goes for Lake Minnewashta Regional Park. Both Lake Waconia and Lake Minnewashta beaches have lifeguards ready for any emergencies from noon to 6pm starting June 12 and going through August 15 as well.

Lake Minnewashta also has park shelters to rent for the summer. Like the campgrounds at Baylor, these are filling up rapidly, and anyone who wants to rent should do so soon. The good news is these shelters can be reserved a year in advance, so if you’ve got an event in 2022 that you really want a shelter for, you can rent it now and breathe easy later. There are no capacity limits, unlike last year.

“If there’s interest for a park shelter for a family event, we have limited availability,” said Pertz. “Get in touch with us soon. A lot of Saturdays and Sundays are already picked over.”

Of course, just going to the parks isn’t the only way to enjoy them. Activities and events are back, with a huge range of options. First, with the 4th of July coming up, festivities will be taking place at Lake Waconia Regional Park, weather permitting. Fireworks are planned, so bring a chair or blanket, snacks, water, and anything else you might need at dusk to enjoy the national holiday.

Another special event coming up is the Minnewashta Mud Run on July 10 this year. This event starts bright and early, and is a family event. According to Pertz, this event is part run, part obstacle course, and the park is expecting a couple hundred people. The hope is to have a big year, especially after canceling last year.

And not all events are big. There are plenty of camps, activities, and little events at every park nearly every day of the summer. Things ranging from archery to story walks to cooking to canoeing are all a part of the program and so many more. No matter the interest, there’s a camp for it somewhere in the parks calendar. Like with the shelters and campgrounds, demand is high and these camps are filling up fast.

“We work with all the local municipalities to organize these activities,” said Pertz. “We saw registration full with wait listed on about 70 or 80 percent of our programs.”

The point is, interest is high so sign up early. There are a few walk in events, so the best way to check and see what’s going on is to visit the parks website at carver.co.mn.us and search Parks and Recreation. The website also has contact information for the park office which is 952-466-5250 for any questions or concerns. So get out there and enjoy the sunshine, everyone!

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