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Mission and History of Three Rivers Park District


To promote environmental stewardship through recreation and education in a natural resources-based park system.

Three Rivers Park District is a park system in the west suburban Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area of Minnesota. We manage almost 27,000 acres of park reserves, regional parks, regional trails, and special-use facilities. The name "Three Rivers" comes from our parks' geography, situated within the watersheds that flow into three significant rivers to this region: the Mississippi, the Minnesota and the Crow.

With facilities for every season, including picnicking, swimming, play areas, boating, fishing, downhill skiing, snowboarding, golfing, camping, and sledding, Three Rivers Parks is the place for recreation, play and relaxation. We have developed an extensive trail system for hiking, biking, in-line skating, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. We also offer program sites for nature, recreation, historic, and farm education. The Park District serves over 11 million visitors annually.

Minnesota State Legislature established Three Rivers Park District as an independent, special park district in 1957. Our charge is to acquire, develop and maintain large park reserves and regional parks and trails for the citizens of suburban Hennepin County, the metro area, and the State.

We work cooperatively with the Metropolitan Parks and Open Space Commission, Metropolitan Counciland State Legislature as one of ten implementing agencies of the Metropolitan Regional Park System. This system of parks was established in 1974 by the Minnesota State Legislature to provide outdoor education, recreational facilities, services, and programs. Collectively, the system serves more than 47 million park guests per year in the seven-county metro.

The Three Rivers Vision Plan provides an overarching vision, five actionable goals, and more than 40 strategic actions to be pursued over the next ten years. Download the Vision Plan (3MB)



Three Rivers Park District, established by the Minnesota State Legislature, began operating in 1957. Over the next two decades, the Park District purchased almost 21,000 acres of property.

Wetland, prairie, woodland, and wildlife restoration initiatives were introduced to help establish the parklands to their original, native state prior to settlement in the 1800s.

This era saw the design and construction of a number of park facilities as well as the addition of miles of paved biking, hiking and cross-country ski trails.

Three Rivers has become a leader in the delivery of outdoor recreation, education services, and facilities. We’ve opened new facilities for mountain biking, snowboarding, and evening cross-country skiing along lighted trails.

Today, our park reserves are among the largest wildlife habitat areas in the seven-county metro area. Eight million visitors annually access the 27,000 acres of park reserves, regional parks, and regional trail corridors.

Oral History
Consisting of twelve interviews, the Oral History Project offers insight into the early history of the Park District. This project was funded in part from a grant from the Minnesota Historical Society.