One of the best parts about the Governor’s Fishing Opener is seeing the hidden gems of the host community. The first of many for the St. Cloud area is the Quarry Park and Nature Preserve in Waite Park. The granite quarries opened over 100 years ago, seeking out the Saint Cloud Red Granite, a stone you can still see in the architecture of the Landmark Center and the James J. Hill House in St. Paul. Quarrying operations in the park ceased in the mid-1950’s. The park for decades was known in St. Cloud as an unregulated party spot called Hundred Acres Quarry. In 1992, Stearns County purchased this site from Cold Spring Granite Company and became the largest in the Stearns County Parks system. The park opened on January 1, 1998. It is open year-round with so much to do and places to explore! Granite reflecting pools, two swimming quarries, scientific and natural areas, mountain bike paths over billion-year-old bedrock, trout fishing, picnic areas, hiking trails, geocaching, a really cool derrick exhibit, rock climbing, cliff jumping (crazy-popular), three designated quarries for scuba diving (In central Minnesota… right?!), scenic overlooks, cross country ski trails, snowshoeing – and thats not even all! I took the guided tour, seeing the crystal clear, cold water while I pored over my copy of ”Quarry Quest, the History of Stearns County Quarry Park and Nature Preserve” written by a quarry-obsessed, retired Stearns County Commissioner named Mark Sakry, soaking up the granite quarrying history, politics, plant and bird lists, old articles and personal stories. I highly recommend making your way to the park and learning a bit of its history. What a stunning place!