Alluring photos and stories call happy campers to the prairies, lakes and forests of MN.

Each day leading up to the April 16 announcement of the Minnesota Book Awards, we highlight one of the thirty-two finalists. Today, we feature 2011 Minnesota finalist:

Prairie, Lake, Forest: Minnesota’s State Parks
Chris Niskanen, photography by Doug Ohman
Minnesota Historical Society Press
Category Sponsor: Xcel Energy:


An excerpt from Prairie, Lake, Forest: Minnesota’s State Parks:

We went for a hike. The beach was a tumble of exposed bedrock, some formations looking like model pirate ships in silhouette, but soon the gravel narrowed and an outcrop of jagged rock faced us. The girls scrambled up a well-used trail, and then I saw Grace climbing, hand over hand, up the final short rock wall. I was about to yell my customary warning, but she had summited and Bailey was on her heels. They raised their arms, the Lake Superior wind whipping their hair, and I breathed two words: their Everest.

Containing sixteen essays and over 200 photographs that chronicle the sights, sounds, and experiences of Minnesota’s 66 parks, this book explores the parks through the eyes of rangers, naturalists, and long-time users.


Chris Niskanen was outdoors editor for the Pioneer Press for over sixteen years, and was recently appointed DNR Communications Director by Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton.


Doug Ohman’s work is featured in the Minnesota Byways series, which includes Barns of Minnesota and Cabins of Minnesota.


“We at Parks and Trails can’t imagine why anyone who reads Chris Niskanen’s captivating essays and sees Doug Ohman’s fine photos won’t immediately want to get off the couch and head to one of Minnesota’s state parks. These two outdoorsmen have captured the true spirit of our prairies, lakes, and forests.” – Courtland Nelson, Director, Parks and Trails, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

“Niskanen’s lively writing and Ohman’s gorgeous photographs capture the recreational, visual, and historical wonders of the state’s remarkable park system. Everyone who loves exploring Minnesota’s outdoors should own this book.” – Tom Dickson, author of The Great Minnesota Fish Book

“An absolutely beautiful book. Ohman’s photos are, as usual, beautiful.  Text is well written and entertaining.  Book design is exceptional.” – MN Book Awards preliminary judge

More images from Doug Ohman’s website:




Award winners will be announced at the 23rd Annual Minnesota Book Awards Gala on Saturday, April 16, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, in downtown Saint Paul. The opening reception begins at 6:30 p.m.; followed by the awards ceremony at 8 p.m. Tickets are $45 and are available by clicking here or calling 651-222-3242.

Have you read Prairie, Lake, Forest? What are your thoughts? We welcome your comments!


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