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.
Traffic can sometimes be hectic on Highway 61 in Hastings, but drivers who turn on 21st Street East and pull into the parking lot at Vermillion Falls Park can quickly put that behind them.
It is just a two-minute walk from the parking lot to the 35-foot Vermillion Falls, crashing down into the canyon below the overlooks.
“I hope that people are able to experience some of the hidden beauty that this area offers,” said Chris Jenkins, parks and recreation director for Hastings.
In addition to the waterfall, Jenkins said there are plenty of native plants in the park. “We have worked with some partners to do native plant and habitat restoration there.”
Plant restoration has also been done in Old Mill Park which is connected to Vermillion Park by a pedestrian bridge which has recently become a popular place to attach “love locks” like those placed on the Pont de Arts bridge in Paris.
“It’s not a program that we started,” Jenkins said. “It is entirely just people who have gone out there and done it on their own. It’s totally fine by us.”
The only problem would be if the padlocks become too heavy for the fence. “Then we are going to have to go out and either move it so it is not there, or clip locks,” Jenkins said. “I hope we don’t have to do that.”
The bridge itself, spanning the gorge 80 feet above water level, is an inspirational point of view for the park.
The view of Vermillion Falls changes throughout the year. Water levels “fluctuate with groundwater, rain events, and snowmelt,” Jenkins said.
While the falls freeze in winter, Jenkins said “There is always a little bit of flow through there, but you’ll get the big ice precipices that build off the falls.”
The Hastings park system contains 37 parks and more than 30 miles of trails, including a 10-mile scenic loop that takes cyclists, walkers, or runners past Vermillion Falls, through town, and along the Mississippi River.
Jenkins said there is plenty of recreation for any visitor, and many sites offer a sense of history of the city. More information and maps are available on the park department website.
If you go...
Name: Vermillion Falls Park
Address: 215 21st St E, Hastings, MN 55033
Hours: Open daily 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.