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3000 Calhoun Parkway Minneapolis, MN 55408
Admission: $0.00
Pay Lot. Annual Permits Also Available
Concessions Available
Hours of Operation:
Mon. 06:00 AM – 12:00 AM
Tue. 06:00 AM – 12:00 AM
Wed. 06:00 AM – 12:00 AM
Thu. 06:00 AM – 12:00 AM
Fri. 06:00 AM – 12:00 AM
Sat. 06:00 AM – 12:00 AM
Sun. 06:00 AM – 12:00 AM
Park Hours: 6 am-Midnight.

The natural beauty of Bde Maka Ska Park in Minneapolis includes walking trails, picnic areas, and beaches. Families can enjoy this park together anytime, but it is especially fun in the summer.

Bde Maka Ska Park (f/k/a Lake Calhoun Park) is the largest of the Chain of Lakes. The park space encompasses over 500 acres, but the lake fills 400 of those acres. It has three beaches, an archery range and three miles of biking and walking trails. The park may be the home of a future skate park if funding can be secured but it currently has a pop-up skatepark. Other family-friendly amenities include, docks and piers, space to picnic, and sports fields and courts. A new pavilion was added in the fall of 2023, which includes a restaurant with heated, outdoor seating, a performance area, and year-round restrooms. Look for indigenous art and naval artifacts when visiting. The park does not currently have a playground. The parking lot at this park is metered.

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Fishing Pier installed at Lake Calhoun Park (now Bde Maka Ska) in 2013. Image Courtesy Minneapolis Parks
Fishing Pier installed in 2013. Image Courtesy Minneapolis Parks

10 Ideas for Family Fun at Bde Maka Ska Park

  1. Go Fishing. The Minnesota DNR tells us there are bluegill, crappie, tiger Muskie, northern pike, largemouth bass, walleye, yellow perch, carp and bullhead in this lake.
  2. Rent canoes, pedal boats, kayaks, or paddleboards. Wheel Fun Rentals rents out watercraft to get out on the lake. Bde Maka Ska is connected to Lake of the Isles by canal, so you can paddle around both lakes.
  3. Bike the Chain of Lakes. Bde Maka Ska is the largest of the Chain of Lakes. Other lakes in the chain include Brownie Lake, Cedar Lake, Lake of the Isles and Lake Harriet. All of these lakes connect by bike paths. The boat dock is on the northeast side of the lake.
  4. Practice Archery.
  5. Swim. There are three beaches at this park. Two employ life guards.
  6. Pack a picnic or grab something at Lola on the Lake – the park’s restaurant
  7. Bring a ball to play field games on the soccer field;
  8. Play kickball on the softball diamond; or
  9. Play volleyball on the sand court at the beach.
  10. Pack the kids in a stroller for a walk. A roughly 3-mile path for walking or biking circles the lake. Skaters also enjoy this paved trail for roller-skating.

Beaches & Recreation at Bde Maka Ska

Lifeguards are employed at Thomas Beach and 32nd Street Beach. On days when the temperature is 85 degrees or warmer at 6 p.m., lifeguard hours will be extended until 8 p.m. Bde Maka Ska North Beach has no lifeguard on duty. Guarded or not, park visitors are allowed to swim anytime during park hours – 6 am to 10 pm daily.

For this and other swimming options, explore our guide: Splash Happy: Twin Cities Guide to Beaches, Pools, Water Parks & Splash Pads.

Bde Maka Ska Archery Range

Bde Maka Ska’s archery range is located at the SE corner of the park (3800 Richfield Rd). Ranges in Minneapolis Park are non-reservable and patrons bring their own equipment and targets. Hay bills are provided. Here is a list of other Twin Cities archery ranges.

Pop-Up Skate Park (and Future Permanent Facilities)

A future facility for skateboarders has been approved but is currently unfunded. Read the Lake Calhoun/Bde Maka Ska and Lake Harriet Regional Park Master Plan for more information.  In the meantime, because there has been a lot of interest, MPRB installed a pop-up, temporary skate park in a section of the north parking lot and planned to leave it through 2023.

Public Art and History

In 2019, MPRB dedicated a new gathering space and public artwork to commemorate the Dakota village led by Chief Cloud Man that was located there from 1829 to 1839. Cloud Man invited Samuel and Gideon Pond to build a cabin near his village and teach them Euro-American farming methods, starting in 1834. This began a life-long friendship between the Pond brothers, Chief Cloud Man and members of his village.

How to Pronounce Bde Maka Ska:

While the park was renamed for the Lake’s Dakota name Bde Maka Ska (meaning White Earth Lake) in 2015, the Minneapolis Park’s Department did not have the authority for the name change of the lake itself. However, this too was officially changed to the Dakota language name by the Department of Natural Resources in January of 2018.

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