On of the best kept secrets in the national nature photography community is the Big Woods Regions of Southern Minnesota during the spring ephemeral wildflower bloom. I would challenge anyone to find a better place to photograph spring ephemeral wildflowers. This region has many locations where the spring wildflowers grow in profussion that is rarely found anywhere else on this planet.
The Big Woods ecosystem once covered most of SE Minnesota, today there is only about 2% of these forests remaining.
Rice County has perhaps the largest section of Big Woods left in the state with Nerstrand State Park at about one square mile. In addition to Nerstrand State Park, Rice County has several County Parks that are great locations for wildflowers. In particular Caron Park, Cannon River Wilderness Area, and Riverbend Nature Center are all wonderful areas to find wildflowers.
The Minnesota DNR has several outstanding State Parks for spring ephemeral wildflowers including; Beaver Creek Valley, Whitewater, Carley, and the afore mentioned Nerstrand. In addition to the state parks look up the MN DNR SNA (Scientific and Natural Areas) in particular Prairie Creek Woods, Cannon River Trout Lily, Townsend Woods, and Wood-Rill, to mention a few.
The spring ephemeral bloom begins as early as the first week of April and runs as late as the end of May.