William O'Brien State Park Accessibility Improvements

Project Overview

Starting in December 2023, a number of accessibility improvements and amenity updates will be coming to William O'Brien State Park. Many facilities in the state parks and trails system are aging and do not comply with current state or federal accessibility standards or best practices. This project includes facility upgrades that will make the park more accessible to visitors with disabilities and will provide updated amenities for all park visitors to enjoy. The improvements will also incorporate best management practices for public safety, stormwater management, aquatic invasive species and energy efficiency.

Work is slated to begin in December 2023 and will continue through the end of 2024. The DNR will provide updates as they are available on the park website at mndnr.gov/Obrien.


Frequently Asked Questions

What will remain open during the project?

Plenty of recreation opportunities will remain available at the park during construction, including all parts of the park that are west of Highway 95. Visitors will still be able to access:

• 90% of the park's land base
• 90% of the hiking trails in the park, including the Hiking Club Trail
• 36 electric and 24 non-electric campsites in the Savanna campground, 3 group camps and 4 camper cabins
• Park office and interpretive center, including interpretive programming


What parts of the park will be closed during the project?
The lower portion of the park - near Lake Alice and the St. Croix River- will be closed, including:

• Mondale Day Use Area, including the St. Croix River public water access, Lake Alice swimming beach and fishing pier, parking lot and picnic shelters
• Riverway campground, Riverside group camp, and Riverside trail
• Amphitheater


What improvements are being made?
The items under consideration in the planning process include:

• Accessibility updates to restrooms at the park office and Riverway campground
• An accessible canoe and kayak launch and expanded swimming beach on Lake Alice
• Accessibility upgrades to the Riverside Trail
• Addition of accessible features at the amphitheater
• Addition of accessible campsites at the Riverway campground
• Replacement of two restrooms, two vault toilets, and a picnic shelter in the Mondale Day Use Area
• Additional accessible picnic tables
• Improving accessibility to the St. Croix River public water access


How will these improvements benefit users who don't have disabilities?
Generally, the updates will bring new, modern facilities that can be enjoyed by all users. These updates will also provide assistance to parents and create additional safety measures.
Updates to the Riverside Trail will help not only visitors using wheelchairs or other types of mobility devices, but will make using the trail easier for visitors with strollers.
Updates to the day use area restrooms will provide individual gender-independent rooms. These can be beneficial to parents of small children who need assistance using these facilities, and they will double as changing rooms.
More green space in front of a larger swimming beach area will provide additional safety because there will be more room for parents to stay close to the beach to monitor their children while swimming. This design will also result in fewer pedestrian crossings of the parking lot.

How does this project fit with the park's management plan?
The William O'Brien State Park Management Plan was completed in 2008 with input from a Citizens Advisory Committee, a Technical Advisory Team, and the public.
It often takes many years to see the vision of management plans come to fruition. This project is an opportunity to implement several of the recommendations from the plan, including a new layout for the day use area, improved campsite amenities and resolving safety issues on some trails.


William O'Brien State Park Accessibility Improvements - go to mndnr.gov/Obrien for updates