This weekend was warm and sunny with temperatures in the 80's. It was likely our last shot at summer activities, so we drove the boys up to St. Cloud where we visited Quarry Park and Nature Preserve in Waite Park. Opened as a park in 1998, the land was previously owned by local quarry companies and contains 30 abandoned rock quarries, most filled with water. There are several grout piles as well. These large hills of unwanted quarried rock (the large boulders were considered too small) are restricted to rock climbers with permits.
We went specifically for the granite quarry called Melrose Deep 7. A short half mile walk from the parking lot, the swimming hole is usually filled with 116 feet of water (it was down 3 feet when we visited).
Popular with students at St. Cloud State University, the main attraction is the chance to jump or dive from the rock walls lining the swimming hole. Doug and the boys braved the cold water and jumped off several times, but I decided to sit back with Doug's parents and watch the show.
There were several ledges, for all different levels of skill and bravery. Some of the college students were doing crazy flips and dives off the highest ledge, but the boys stayed on the lower ones.
Not interested in jumping off rocks? The park also allows scuba diving in four of the quarries. Divers must be certified and dive with a buddy. "There are various underwater hazards such as tree snags, abandoned quarrying equipment, and loose rock piles."
If scuba diving isn't for you, you can try rock climbing in designated areas, hiking, mountain biking, or trout fishing. In the winter, the trails are open for cross country skiing and snowshoeing, with four miles of lit trails for use after dark.
*permits are required for scuba diving and rock climbing
**Watch a fun video of the quarry from DesperationKry on YouTube