Fort Ridgely is a state park and historic site located in Fairfax, Minnesota. This site preserves the ruins of Fort Ridgely, where the Battle of Fort Ridgely took place during the Dakota War of 1862.
The fort was built by soldiers and carpenters who traveled from Fort Snelling on the Minnesota River on the steamboat West Newton in 1853. The people on the steamboat were ordered to build a fort on the edge of what was a Dakota reservation. Construction was complete by 1855 and developed into a community of 300 soldiers and civilians. The fort was attacked twice by Dakota Native Americans in 1862 during the U.S. Dakota War of 1862. The fort closed in 1872, and the buildings were then used by local farmers. The land was purchased as a war memorial in 1896 and designated a state park in 1911.
Visitors can learn about the history of Fort Ridgely at the museum, located near the ruins of the fort. In addition to learning about a major event in Minnesota’s history, visitors can hike or ride the 8 miles of trails on horseback, fish, and camp. In the winter, 5 miles of ungroomed cross-country skiing and 8 miles of snowmobiling are allowed within the park. Snowshoeing is welcome as long as visitors stay off of the ski trails.
There are 31 drive-in campsites (15 electric), a group camp that can accommodate up to 30 people, and a farmhouse and chalet that are all reservable. Showers and flush toilets are available from May to October, and vault toilets are located throughout the park. A seasonal dump station is also available for campers. There are two picnic areas within the park that include a shelter and playground, a sandbox, horseshoes, and an amphitheater.