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Just a Day in the Park Week 3: A Trip Up a Bluff at Whitewater State Park

Just a Day in the Park
Just a Day in the Park with Traveler Luke Gorski

Luke Gorski is a traveler with a big task this summer. Luke called in for his weekly check-in to tell KAXE/KBXE's Heidi Holtan and John Latimer about this leg of his journey exploring all 66 Minnesota state parks this summer. Click the player above to hear the entire conversation. For the other installments of this summer pilgrimage, click here to read more in the KAXE/KBXE archives.

Since Heidi and John last spoke with Luke, he's visited a large number of state parks in the southern realm of Minnesota. Those include: Minneopa, Muir Big Island, Frontenac, Carley, Whitewater, John A. Latsch, Great River Bluffs, Lake Louise, and Forestville Mystery Cave. "It's been a ton of fun this past week," Gorski said.

His travels in the south and east part of Minnesota led him into the Driftless region of the state: topography left untouched by glaciers in the last ice age. That means visitors can expect rich geological features that don't exist in other parts of the state. "In this area," Luke said, "drainage patterns in the Driftless have had a long time to establish themselves. Rivers have been able to carve deep valleys and ravines, and it makes for very interesting park land."

Luke's number-one activity in each state park, outside of Phenology, is hiking. Those long-term drainage patterns have made for some striking elevation changes, and in turn, some great hiking. "This past week, I had two favorite trails. In John A. Latsch, there is a half-mile trail up to the top of Charity Bluffs. It's about 400 stairs, and the view at the top is absolutely amazing. You get to see the Mississippi from 400-500 feet above. It's a bit of a climb but it's worth it."

The other trail Luke was fond of this week is in Whitewater State Park: The Chimney Rock trail. "You start down in the river valley and you climb up onto the bluff's ridges and you get to see the river valley and the bend in the river, as well as Chimney Rock," he said. "Whitewater has so much variation. It's a large park and it's got five or six different overlooks that you can see the Whitewater River from. That's been my favorite over the past week."

Luke also noted that plants and flowers are really starting to explode in the southern part of the state. If you're visiting this region, Luke recommends you keep your eyes open for the Forget-me-Nots and the Creeping Charlie.

Stay tuned next week for Luke's next report on his journey to visit each of the 66 state parks in Minnesota. We're connecting you to the outdoors this summer on KAXE/KBXE.

Rock formation
Luke Gorksi
In Yan Teopa Rock at Frontenac State Park
A bench near a river
Luke Gorski
A bench on the north fork of the Whitewater River at Carley State Park
A chimney-shaped rock
Luke Gorski
Chimney Rock at Whitewater State Park
A river-view from high atop a bluff
Luke Gorski
The view from Charity Bluff at John A. Latsch State Park
A bench overlooking a bluff
Luke Gorski
An overlook at Great River Bluffs State Park

Heidi Holtan is KAXE's Director of Content and Public Affairs where she manages producers and is the local host of Morning Edition from NPR. Heidi is a regional correspondent for WDSE/WRPT's Duluth Public Television’s Almanac North.
As a mail carrier in rural Grand Rapids, Minn., for 35 years, John Latimer put his own stamp on a career that delivered more than letters. Indeed, while driving the hundred-mile round-trip daily route, he passed the time by observing and recording seasonal changes in nature, learning everything he could about the area’s weather, plants and animals, and becoming the go-to guy who could answer customers’ questions about what they were seeing in the environment.