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Jay Cooke: A park for all seasons

Jay Cooke State Park is a park for all seasons for many reasons.

Reason No. 1 for Cloquet photographer (and retired doctor) Dan Malkovich is the park’s spectacular beauty, which surrounds the St. Louis River as it alternately rushes over massive rock formations and meanders through the Minnesota northwoods.

“The river never stays the same,” said Malkovich, whose four seasons of Jay Cooke photos are featured on this page. “I return and every time I see something new.”

Malkovich can be found at the park at all hours of day and night and follows the seasons at the park, noting that Marsh marigolds (pictured) are always one of the first flowers in the spring.

While its natural features offer beauty, and the trails and rocks offer plenty of activities in summer or winter, the 8,938-acre park is a haven for wildlife.

According to the park website, the promise of food and protection make Jay Cooke State Park an important wintering area for white-tailed deer. Black bear, timber wolf, and coyote are among the largest of 46 animal species in the park. The pileated woodpecker, marsh hawk and the great blue heron are just a few of 173 species of birds that nest and feed in the park. Sixteen species of reptiles and amphibians (none of which are poisonous) are found in the park.

How lucky Carlton County is to have such a treasure in our own backyard!