101 Things To Do: Hok-Si-La Park in Lake City
Editor's note: This is the latest stop in the series 101 Things To Do. Each week through December 2020, we will select one place or activity around the region to highlight. The stories are compiled at www.rivertown101.com.
Hok-Si-La Park in Lake City sits on a flat point of land sticking out into Lake Pepin, an ideal location that provides visitors with an abundance of birds and wildlife, trails for hiking, skiing, and snowshoeing, a beach for swimming, and beautiful sites for picnics and camping.
There is something for everyone who visits, and this is both a blessing and a problem, according to Joanne Klees, park manager for Lake City.
"I love how diverse the people who use the park are," Klees said. "There are times when we have 500 people on the grounds, and meeting the needs of such a diverse group is one of our challenges."
One decision that officials made that helps many people love the park is that no cars are allowed in the picnic areas or campgrounds. There is a road, and when campers check in, they are allowed to drive to their site to drop off equipment and supplies, but they must then return their car to one of two large parking lots, accessed off Highway 61 along the Mississippi River. No generators are allowed, and the park does not have enough space to accommodate RVs.
"We do keep the park clean," Klees said. "People tell us they come here because we keep the bathrooms so nice."
With a volleyball court, basketball court, horseshoe pit, in addition to the trails and beach, the park is popular with groups from public schools, colleges, environmental organizations, and others.
"The backbone of the park is family reunions," Klees said. "We will sometimes have five of them going on at one time."
Other people schedule the park for graduation parties, anniversaries, and other celebrations. This means the park facilities can be fully reserved.
Klees recommends calling in advance for camping sites and especially on weekends for the six camping cabins and the picnic shelters.
The camping cabins have been very popular, she said, because they are large and have AC and heating. They are wheelchair accessible and can sleep six.
"Many people come here because it is quieter and safer for the kids," Klees said, "They feel comfortable letting their kids wander around. The kids can get on a bike and go to the bathroom, and they don't have to worry about them."
If you go...
Name: Hok-Si-La Municipal Park and Campground
Address: 2500 N. Highway 61, Lake City, Minn.
Hours: Open year-round for day use. Camping, cabins, and picnic shelters are available mid-April to mid-October.
Cost: Free. Donations are appreciated. Fees for camping, cabins, picnic shelters, and dining hall.