The seven-county metro area boasts a regional parks system encompassing more than 54,600 acres open for public use. The system includes 55 parks and park reserves, 8 special recreation features, and more than 400 miles of regional trails currently open to the public. The parks range from urban lake environments and suburban nature centers to a working farm and large tracts of rural open space. Preserving parkland and open space protects valuable natural resources and makes communities more attractive and livable.

Regional Parks Policy Plan

The system is guided by the Council’s Regional Parks Policy Plan, which lays out the goals for the expansion of the system and the strategies designed to meet these goals. The plan’s policies guide expansion and development goals of regional parks and trails, as well as policies for parks and trails already part of the system.

The regional parks system began with pioneering state legislation in 1974, which put the Metropolitan Council in charge of overseeing acquisition and development of regional parks. The parks are operated by 10 partnering cities, counties and special districts. More about parks planning and policies.