Get up close and personal with bison, or at least as close as you should ever be. Tour the inside of the earth inside Minnesota's longest cave. The statewide youth deer hunting season is this weekend and costs nothing. Those are just a few of the ideas from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for the long MEA weekend.

Minnesota DNR South Region Information Officer Dan Ruiter joined us on air Thursday afternoon to set the stage for a busy weekend of DNR-promoted events taking place at parks, several quite near Owatonna. Several of the very popular attractions will be closing for the season this weekend.

Deborah Rose (DNR)

While there is no guarantee that you will see a bison on a tour presented at Blue Mounds State Park, there is also a decent chance they will be within 100 feet of the vehicle. Several tours are being held Friday through Sunday of MEA weekend. Go here for reservation information. The park is location near Luverne. A state park permit is required to enter the park. For the bison tours there is an additional charge and children under age four are not permitted.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resorces

Mystery Cave in Forestville is a chance to get away from it all and go off the grid by touring Minnesota's longest cave. The hour-long scenic tour gives visitors a look at the cave which was created by moving water. It's always 48 degrees in the cave, so dress accordingly. The cave was discovered in 1937. You will see underground pools of water in addition to fossils, flowstone, stalagmites, and stalactites. Make your reservation here.

Minnesota DNR

Also in southeastern Minnesota, you can find some great nature programs at Whitewater State Park. Geology Fest is being held through Sunday, October 20. Nerstrand Big Woods State Park just east of Faribault is holding a fall colors walk and a geocaching event for beginners on Saturday, October 19. Fort Snelling State Park is hosting an event for people to learn how the DNR catches fish to study their population. It's called Go-n-Seine.

The statewide youth deer hunt is October 17-20 where youth age 10-17 can take one deer of either sex. Ruiter says this has been expanded to statewide hunt rather than being limited to certain deer permit areas. Youth must get a license, but it is free. Those age 10-13 must have an adult with them who does not need a license and cannot hunt. Find the details, rules and regulations here.

Click here for the full Minnesota State Parks and Trails Calendar. And go here for the fall color guide. Time is running out for that.

Click on the link below to hear the full interview.

DNR Information Officer Dan Ruiter

Also read: DNR makes donation to the We All Play project in Owatonna.