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National Parks in Minnesota Back to Top
Grand Portage National Monument
Located on the magnificent northshore and within the boreal forest of Lake Superior in northeastern Minnesota, Grand Portage National Monument preserves a vital center of 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st century fur trade activity and Anishinaabeg (Ojibwe) heritage. The monument is enclosed entirely within Grand Portage Indian Reservation, which Anishinaabeg families have called home for centuries. Kitchi Onigaming, "the Great Carrying Place" or Grand Portage, connected the summer headquarters compound of the North West and other French and English fur trade businesses on Lake Superior to smaller posts located on the Pigeon River eight and one-half miles away which also linked to the pays d'en haut, the up-country of northwest North America. At the historic site overlooking Lake Superior, a stockade wall, and a great hall and kitchen complex have been reconstructed over their original archeological footprints. Nearby, a canoe warehouse protects vessels on exhibit, crafted from birch, cedar and spruce raw materials, which were so essential for travel along the east-west fur trade routes.
Mississippi National River & Recreation Area
Used by Native Americans for trade, food, and water long before Europeans visited the “New World,” the Mississippi River and its watershed is a major contributor to the ecology, culture, politics and economy of the North American continent. To acknowledge this fact, Congress established the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area in 1988. The park’s boundaries enclose about 54,000 acres and 72 miles of river. They describe a narrow corridor of land on either side of the Mississippi from Dayton and Ramsey, MN on the north boundary past Hastings, MN on the south border. Only 35 acres are owned by the Park Service. These 72 miles are a significant and representative stretch of the Mississippi. They contain the only gorge and waterfall on the main course of the entire 2,350 miles of river. Named St. Anthony Falls in 1680, the falls were later used to generate power for logging, flour milling, and electricity for a growing population. Less than ten miles away, the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers was an early outpost for the American military and an important crossroads for fur traders. Further downstream, St. Paul marked the upper end of steamboat navigation and was the jumping off place for tens of thousands of settlers. And the Vermillion River bottoms are excellent examples of floodplain forest ecology. From visitor centers to trails, from industrial centers to Mississippi River backwaters, this park has a bit of something for everyone.
North Country National Scenic Trail
The North Country National Scenic Trail links scenic, natural, historic, and cultural areas in seven northern states. The approximately four thousand mile long trail incudes a variety of hikes from easy walking to challenging treks. When completed, through the efforts of many people, the trail will become the longest continuous hiking trail in the United States. From the Missouri River in North Dakota to the shores of Lake Champlain in New York, the trail allows hikers to experience a variety of features, from clear-flowing streams, to thick Northern woods, from vast prairies to clean lakes.
Pipestone National Monument
The story of this stone and the pipes made from it spans four centuries of Plains Indian life. Inseparable from the traditions that structured daily routine and honored the spirit world, pipes figured prominently in the ways of the village and in dealings between tribes. The story parallels that of a culture in transition: the evolution of the pipes influenced - and was influenced by - their makers' association with white explorers, traders, soldiers, and settlers. Plains Indian culture has undergone radical change since the era of the free-ranging buffalo herds, yet pipecarving is by no means a lost art. Carvings today are appreciated as artworks as well as for ceremonial use. Once again, as commanded by the spirit bird in the Sioux story of its creation, the pipestone here is quarried by anyone of Indian ancestry. An age-old tradition continues in the modern world, ever changing yet firmly rooted in the past.
Voyageurs National Park
The park lies in the southern part of the Canadian Shield, representing some of the oldest exposed rock formations in the world. This bedrock has been shaped and carved by at least four periods of glaciation. The topography of the park is rugged and varied; rolling hills are interspersed between bogs, beaver ponds, swamps, islands, small lakes and four large lakes. In the years since the last glaciation, a thin layer of soil has been created which supports the boreal forest ecosystem, the "North Woods" of Voyageurs National Park. This land is rich in human history. Named for the Voyageurs, French-Canadian canoe-men who traveled these waters in their birch-bark canoes from the Great Lakes to the interior of the western United States and Canada. Modern voyageurs continue to ply these waters. The water, accompanying scenery, geology and rich cultural and natural resources that give Voyageurs its national significance, merits its protection for the enjoyment of present and future generations. On the northern edge of Minnesota's border, 55 miles of the park meander along the Canadian border with Ontario. Voyageurs is about 15 miles east of International Falls, MN and 300 miles north of Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN.


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