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Just a Day in the Park: Luke's Grand Finale

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

Like all good things, so too must end Luke Gorski's pilgrimage to visit all 66 Minnesota State Parks this summer. Luke joins Heidi Holtan and John Latimer one final time to recap the final five parks on Luke's voyage, and provide a peek at his "Parks by the Numbers". To hear the full conversation, click the "Listen" player above.

Before reflecting on his journey as a whole, there were five parks left on the "to do" list before Luke could claim his trek complete. Here are the notes from the rest of the North Shore parks Luke visited.

Crosby Manitou: "Crosby Manitou probably falls in the under-rated category for the parks. It's the one park that's on the north shore but not on Lake Superior. It's two or three miles inland, and the park has three-full miles of trail right on the Manitou River that you can walk along. And that's some of the best set of river trails on the north shore. So that's one you should definitely hit (but they have almost no parking because they don't anticipate a lot of visitors)."

Cascade River: "Cascade River has the biggest set of overgrown trails on the north shore. If you get back in the northwest corner of the park, you[re going to get some low-trafficked trails. They're hike/ski trails, so they're groomed in the winter for XC skiing. We went up Lookout Mountain, we walked along the river and saw the cascades. And there is a full mile and a half that you can walk right along the Lake at the park. That's not something you can usually do that far up the north shore, so that's unique."

Judge CR Magney: "CR Magney is where the Devil's Kettle is, and that's famous for the mystery about where does the water go when it enters the Devil's Kettle. We walked up to that one as well as some of the less-trafficked trails. This park was the one on the north shore where I struggled the most with mosquitoes. My dad went with me and said they weren't so bad, so I guess they decided to just attack me."

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Luke Gorski
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Grand Portage: "Then we went straight up to Grand Portage, which is a small park, but it has the tallest waterfall in Minnesota on the Pigeon River. And then if you hike back in there, about a five-mile round-trip, you can get to the middle falls. We threw rocks into Canada and we hiked all the way back there and that was it!"

When Heidi and John asked Luke what he had taken from his journey, Luke reflected on his trip. "I'm kind of glad that it's over, but now it's like, what am I going to do for the rest of the summer?!?!?"

As a Geography major, Luke enjoyed learning about the different places he visits. "This is just a really straightforward way for me to get to know a state like the back of my hand. I feel like I'm a bit of Minnesota local now that I've been to every single county in the state."

For more information about Luke's overall ranking of the Minnesota State Parks, including which parks make up the bottom spots, listen to the full conversation by clicking the "Listen" player above. Luke also showed lots of gratitude to the people who made his trip possible, and you can hear all the names on his list by listening to the full conversation.

So what comes next for Luke? "I'm already planning on doing Wisconsin next summer, but they only have 49 State Parks....."

Good Luck, Luke, and Bon Voyage!

Here's Luke's rankings:
Tettegouche

Whitewater

Split Rock Lighthouse

Jay Cooke

Beaver Creek Valley

George H Crosby Manitou

Frontenac

Grand Portage

Temperance River

Cascade River

Judge C R Magney

Gooseberry Falls

Interstate

Banning

Great River Bluffs

John A Latsch

Glacial Lakes

Forestville Mystery Cave

Blue Mounds

Maplewood

Sibley

Camden

Carley

Bear Head Lake

Lake Bemidji

Schoolcraft

Afton

Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine

Glendalough

Lake Maria

Minneopa

Nerstrand Big Woods

Father Hennepin

Moose Lake

Savanna Portage

William O Brien

Scenic

Lake Bronson

Crow Wing

Buffalo River

Itasca

Myre-Big Island

St Croix

Fort Snelling

Split Rock Creek

Lake Carlos

Franz Jevne

Mccarthy Beach

Mille Lacs Kathio

Lake Shetek

Flandrau

Hayes Lake

Rice Lake

Monson Lake

Zippel Bay

Big Stone Lake

Old Mill

Lake Louise

Charles A Lindbergh

Kilen Woods

Upper Sioux Agency

Fort Ridgely

Wild River

Hill Annex Mine

Sakatah Lake

Lac Qui Parle

Heidi Holtan has worked at KAXE/KBXE for over 22 years. She currently helms the Morning Show as News and Public Affairs Director where she manages producers, hosts local interviews and programs, oversees and manages web stories and establishes focus areas of programming like phenology, clean energy, Indigenous voices, Strong Women, local foods, clean energy, economic development and more. Heidi is a regional correspondent for WDSE/WRPT's Duluth Public Television’s Almanac North. In 2018 Heidi received the “Building Bridges in Media” award from the Islamic Resource Group for her work on KAXE/KBXE hosting conversations about anti-Muslim movements in rural Minnesota. During the pandemic, Heidi hosted 14 months of a weekly statewide conversation on COVID-19 for the AMPERS network.
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.