Carver County parks bring nature close to home
Looking for something different
Gazing at a starry sky through a powerful telescope, playing a round of disc golf, or walking along a cattail marsh might be the perfect way to spice up your day.
At Baylor Regional Park, these are only a sampling of the wide array of available activities.
The park is located a few miles south of New Germany on Carver County Road 33, adjacent to Eagle Lake, and offers 200 acres of year-round outdoor fun.
Many people travel to Baylor Regional Park to walk or run on the nearly four miles of trails through forest and prairie. There is also a boardwalk through a cattail marsh that is almost a one quarter-mile long.
Wildlife photographers and birdwatchers enjoy the variety of scenic vistas overlooking Eagle Lake, and boaters often take advantage of the calm, peaceful waters.
For large gatherings up to 100 people, a community room is available throughout the year with advance reservation. The 1935 remodeled barn has a food preparation area, heat, air conditioning, and flush restrooms.
Park patrons can also play a round of 18-hole disc golf when they visit. The course, which opened in September 2007, has baskets with turf and natural tee boxes.
There is no additional charge to play disc golf, but a Carver County parking permit is required for all vehicles in the park.
When cold weather hits, cross country skis can be rented on weekends at the park office.
For those who prefer to stay at the park for longer periods of time, there are opportunities to camp at one of 50 camping sites. Thirty-five have water and electrical hookups, and there is also a group campsite. While you’re there, catch a few fish, eat a picnic lunch, or relax on the swimming beach.
For sports enthusiasts, the park offers a ballfield, tennis courts, and sand volleyball courts.
For reservations or information about any park activity, contact the Carver County Park Office at (952) 466-5250 or email@example.com.
Parking passes, maps, and other information can also be obtained online, at www.co.carver.mn.us.
No visit to Baylor Regional Park is complete without at least a glance at Onan Observatory, a state-of-the-art facility operated by the Minnesota Astronomical Society (MAS).
The site has been gaining popularity in recent years, and had a new attendance record of 3,690 visitors in 2009.
The observatory attendance at public viewings and special events beat the previous record in 2008, of 2,675.
Public viewings take place on certain nights, typically from about 7 to 10 p.m., in both clear or cloudy weather. When conditions do not allow for direct viewing, presentations and recorded views of previously observed solar system and deep sky objects are substituted.
To contact someone from the Onan Observatory, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a message in the Minnesota Astronomical Society’s voice mailbox at (952) 467-2426.
More information is also available at www.mnastro.org.
Carver County maintains other nearby parks that offer a variety of activities.
Lake Waconia Regional Park
Lake Waconia Regional Park is in its initial land acquisition stage for this future 130-acre park. Situated on the southern shore of Lake Waconia, with views to the lake and Coney Island, existing facilities include a reservable group picnic shelter, play equipment, restrooms, small swimming beach, picnic tables, volleyball court, and grills. Boat access is provided outside the park at the Minnesota DNR boat access located on the northeast side of the lake, and at private marinas located in the city of Waconia.
Location: 8170 Paradise Lane, Waconia, MN 55387
Lake Waconia Regional Park is located just east of the city of Waconia, next to the Lakeside Ballroom. Access to the park is off of TH 5. For additional information, contact the park office at (952) 466-5250.
Lake Minnewashta Regional Park
Lake Minnewashta Regional Park is a developing park on the shores of Lake Minnewashta. Facilities completed to-date include a swimming beach, bathhouse, reservable picnic shelters, volleyball courts, creative playground, and concession stand.
Enjoy a leisurely stroll along five miles of turf and natural surface trails that meander along the edge of Lake Minnewashta, through forested and prairie areas of this 340-acre park. In the winter, separate trails are groomed for skiing and walking.
Docks and fishing piers have been installed. A fishing pier is located west of the beach area at picnic area number 1. In addition to facilitating anglers, the pier offers a scenic view of Lake Minnewashta.
Location: 6900 Hazeltine Blvd., Chanhassen, MN 55331
Lake Minnewashta Park is located off of TH 41 west of Chanhassen between TH 5 and TH 7. For additional information, contact the park office at (952) 466-5250.
All vehicles entering the parks are required to purchase and properly display a daily or annual parking permit for Carver County Parks. Permits can be purchased at the park entrance either through the gate house (summer months only) or through the honor box (year-round) with cash or check. Annual permits can also be purchased online or by phone at (952) 466-5250 using a Master, Visa, or Di