The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum reopens to walkers Friday, three weeks after opening for vehicle tours. But before you rush there to savor the sights and scents of spring, be aware that advance reservations are now required and demand is brisk. Reservations are sold out through May 26 to members, who received notice the day before.
“There’s big pent-up desire for people who want to be out walking,” said Susie Eaton Hopper, public relations and media specialist for the Arboretum.
Tulips, lilacs, redbuds and the crabapple collection are in bloom, and the crabapples, in particular, are having a stellar year. “We all agree they are really amazing this year. The colors are exceptional,” Hopper said. “We had the perfect spring; it didn’t get too hot. They like cooler weather.”
The Arb’s reopened walking tours are Phase 2 of its reopening plan in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It will remain in operation until a fuller reopening can happen safely, in accordance with the University of Minnesota, Gov. Tim Walz’s state plan and the CDC’s best practice guidelines, according to a news release.
The Arb is the first University of Minnesota property to reopen, and the first large botanical garden in the country to open, according to Hopper.
Visitors will experience the Arb differently than in springs past. All visitors must make online reservations in advance. Masks are requested but not required for visitors. “The state has not mandated them so we are not. We would like people to wear them,” said Hopper. Arb staffers will wear masks, and masks are required of visitors in the Garden & Gift Shop.
The Arb has added four walking options, all one-way and marked by signs. Three-Mile Walk, the longest of the options, begins at the main parking lot, in front of the Visitor Center and runs through the Wildflower Garden and other interior gardens. For visitors who want to minimize contact with others, Hopper recommended this walk. “It’s the easiest to put distance between yourself and someone else. It has a very wide path,” she said.
For those who want a shorter stroll, there’s a shorter loop of this walk.
The Main Garden Paths, close to the main buildings, are wheelchair accessible and will include the Annual Gardens and Perennial Gardens, including the tulip gardens. Staffers will be monitoring the tulip gardens and restricting the number of visitors allowed; visitors are asked to adhere to a three-minute visit.
The Lilac Loop offers a walk among 139 lilac varieties, some of which are currently in bloom.
No other trails or walkways are open to walkers at this time.
All visitors, including children, must have preregistered online reservations. No on-site transactions will be allowed. Visitors can review available times and make reservations at: z.umn.edu/ArbTickets.
The grounds will be open 9 a.m.to 4 p.m. daily. Online reservations will be timed on the half hour to allow a safe flow of visitors and cars, with the last reservation available at 2:30 p.m.
Online reservations are free to members and those 15 and under; the non-member visitor rate is $15 per person. Visitors can experience the Arb by car, on foot or both. “You could do a drive and then walk. It’s a full-access ticket,” said Hopper.