One of the truly special ways to volunteer up on the North Shore is to help at our local state parks.

Volunteering at the parks can be a one-time event, an occasional commitment or ongoing. A great way to get started would be to volunteer for the annual candlelight events on Feb. 1 at Split Rock Lighthouse or on Feb. 15 at Gooseberry State Park.

Split Rock Lighthouse's event is a snowshoe or hike. Candles and ice luminaries light up a 1-mile trail to the top of Day Hill. We need volunteer to set up candles, tend campfires and take down candles. The event is from 6:30–8 p.m. Volunteers are needed at various times during the day and evening:

  • Candle prep starts at 3 p.m. We need 4-8 people to prep the candle cups. Volunteers need to be able to work outside, bend and scoop snow into cups and then place candles into cups.
  • Starting at 4 p.m., we need 10-15 people to set out the candle cups. Volunteers need to be able to work outside, bend and place candle cups on the side of trails. They will also be pulling a sled weighing no more than 20 pounds. The trail includes hills. Snowshoes are suggested, and ice cleats are recommended.
  • From 6-8 p.m., we need 2-4 sets of volunteers to maintain the campfires. These duties can be split into two sessions, with pairs staffing the campfires for only half the time. One is at Campsite #4 where marshmallows are roasted. The other is a fireplace on top of Day Hill, which is the end of the trail.
  • We will need 1-2 people from 6-8 p.m. to maintain the shelter stove, manage refreshments and encourage visitors to fill out comment cards at the Trail Center.
  • On Feb. 2 at 9 a.m., we will need volunteers to pick up candle cups, sort and store cups and candles.

Gooseberry Falls State Park (pictured) and Split Rock Lighthouse State Park, both on state Highway 61 near Two Harbors, will host candlelight activities in February. Courtesy photo
Gooseberry Falls State Park (pictured) and Split Rock Lighthouse State Park, both on state Highway 61 near Two Harbors, will host candlelight activities in February. Courtesy photo

Gooseberry State Park's event will take place on Saturday, Feb. 15 from 6:30-8 p.m. It includes candlelight skiing, snowshoeing and hiking. We need volunteers to help with the following:

  • Starting at 4 p.m., we need 10-20 people to set out candle cups. Volunteers need to be able to work outside, bend and place candle cups on the trailsides. They will also be pulling a sled weighing no more than 20 pounds. One trail includes some hills. Skies, snowshoes or ice cleats are recommended.
  • We need 2-4 people from 6-8 p.m. to maintain a campfire. These duties can be split into two sessions with pairs staffing the campfire for only half the time.
  • After the event ends at 8 p.m., we will need 10-14 people to pick up candle cups. Volunteers need to be able to work outside, bend and pick up candles, and pull a sled with no more than 30 pounds on it.

Anyone interested in volunteering can contact me by phone at 218-595-7108 or by email at carolyn.rock@state.mn.us.

Carolyn Rock is an interpretive naturalist at Gooseberry Falls State Park.