Officials say visitor numbers are soaring at Minneopa State Park with about 16-thousand passes sold last year.

Minneopa Area Naturalist Scott Kudelka says the increase is attributed to the bison heard that was brought to the park in 2015.

“We use to be right in the middle for selling permits and visitation and now we’re in the top ten.”

Statewide in 2017, Minneopa was third in daily permits and fifth in annual permit sales.

“What people have discovered is they’re not just coming back because of the bison, they’ve discovered the rest of the park and now they’re coming back because they enjoy the park.”

Right now, there are 15 bison at Minneopa, which includes a breeding bull. Officials hope to eventually have 35 to 40 bison in the park.

Kudelka says right now the best time to see the bison is mid-morning when the herd is most active.

“I think they average 750 to 12-hundred pounds and they can disappear,” laughed Kudelka. “We can go up there and we wont find them. For 350 acres, they have ability to hide.”

The bison drive is currently open Thursday through Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The range is closed on Wednesdays for maintenance.