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Finding Minnesota: The Nearly Mosquito-Free Minnesota State Park

WINONA COUNTY, Minn. (WCCO) -- If you are looking to get away from Minnesota's blood-thirsty mosquitoes, there is one state park where visitors do very little swatting or spraying.

Nature provides the right conditions to keep the biting to a minimum at Whitewater State Park.

It is located in the bluffs region of Winona County, and has several swift streams but virtually no standing water.

Bridge At Whitewater State Park
(credit: CBS)

Sara Holger, an interpretive naturalist at the park, says rainfall drains quickly in this part of southeast Minnesota because it is part of the "driftless area," which missed out on the last glacial period.

"Because of the glaciers missing this area, we've got that highly-fractured, highly-dissolvable limestone, allowing water to sink quickly underground, dissolve crevices, create passages, sinkholes, springs, a number of really rare features unique just to this area," Holger said.

Some of that water then springs back up through the crevices after being cooled underground -- and mosquitoes do not like that either.

"We have cold, moving water in this region," Holger said. "It's not very hospitable for mosquitoes to breed. Mosquitoes need more stagnant or slow-moving, warmer water to breed."

Stream At Whitewater State Park
(credit: CBS)

Becca and Nate Hackensack of St. Cloud took their two daughters on a recent overnight camping trip to Whitewater and didn't have to unpack the insect repellent.

"Even this morning, we just had the [tent's] zipper open and didn't worry about having mosquitoes," Becca Hackensack said. "We did see one or two mosquitoes around lunch time, and that was about it."

It would be too much to expect a completely mosquito-free zone. But by Minnesota standards, Holger says this park comes close.

"Guaranteed, noticeable lack of mosquitoes," she said.

Campers At Whitewater State Park
(credit: CBS)

The tradeoff for fewer mosquitoes is that there are not any lakes in the park for boating or fishing. But there is a man-made swimming hole with a beach.

Two other state parks in the region -- Forestville/Mystery Cave and Beaver Creek Valley -- also have fewer mosquitoes than most.

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