Call from the Wild

By Nate Oglesbee

Being in the city offers Macalester students a number of opportunities—everything from obscure indie music to obscure indie arts to obscure indie films. The city does have its drawbacks however, namely that we can’t just go off on a hike or camp in the middle of a field anytime we want to. Recognizing this here are some nearby, and at least semi-outdoors, activities you would be doing yourself a favor to try out:

Como Zoo and the Conservatory

First, and most importantly, the zoo and the conservatory are free! Where else can you enjoy first-rate poo-throwing by monkeys for free?

The zoo is within biking distance and an easy bus ride, making it a nice little day trip for those that want to experience the outdoors without really getting dirty or anything gross like that.

You can watch the animals from the relative safety that glass and steel provide, and not have to worry about being eaten or bitten by them. Unless of course you fall in…don’t fall in.

The conservatory (right next to the zoo) offers visitors the chance to enjoy the beauty and serenity of lots, and lots, and lots, of flowers. The conservatory features a Japanese Garden and a new Orchid House among others, and allows the artistic folks out there to photograph or draw the gardens and flowers. As an added bonus, there is also a mini-golf course nearby, so you can truly bask in your quasi-outdoor activity adventure.

www.comozooconservatory.org

Parkway/ Minnehaha Falls/ Chain of Lakes

The River Road/ Parkway system runs along both sides of the Mississippi and along Minnehaha Creek in Minneapolis. This creates a huge network of trails on which to bike, run, skate, or maybe even Segway—who knows. Minnehaha Falls is about three and half miles away, just follow River Road to Ford Parkway, cross the River, and you’re there. The Falls were once larger than Niagara, but have shrunken over time due to development in the area.

If you follow the parkway system for another couple miles, you stumble upon Lake Nokomis, and the Chain of Lakes beyond that. While none of these lakes have exactly pristine waters anymore, you can still swim, splash, and dunk your friends unmercifully in them. Again, all these activities are of course free.

PS- I once rafted down a big chunk of Minnehaha Creek with my friends when I was like 8. You too could try this feat, just remember to tell your parents beforehand so you’re not grounded for the next week like I was.

PPS- The part about the Falls once being huge is a lie. But hopefully it got your attention, and they are actually very pretty.

www.minneapolisparks.org

Afton State Park

You’ll probably need to borrow a car for this one unfortunately, but if you’re willing to help kill the environment to enjoy nature, well then Afton State Park is a good bet for you. Afton features miles of trails through woods and prairie, and along the bluffs overlooking the St. Croix River. Afton also has 24 campsites that are backpack-in only. That means they are less busy, more rustic, and that you’re not `camping’ right next to a huge RV featuring satellite TV and a large cooler of Bud Light.

Unfortunately to enjoy this nature, you’ll have to cough up a little bit of cash. Daily permits for MN State Parks are $7, and camping overnight is $11. Still not a bad deal if you can convince a couple of your friends to give up their anime-watching for a night.

You can look up more information, other parks, and make reservations online.

www.dnr.state.mn.us