Grand Portage State Park

GRAND PORTAGE STATE PARK

A rainbow spans across the Pigeon River from Minnesota to Canada
Grand Portage State Park by Justin Pruden
forest floor
The forest floor at Grand Portage

About the park

Map of MN pinpointing Grand Portage State Park

This park is unique in so many ways: it borders Canada, it has Minnesota’s tallest waterfalls, it’s one of the smallest state parks in Minnesota, and the Grand Portage Band of Chippewa play a unique role in it’s ownership and management. Visitors will immediately feel the strong influence of the Grand Portage Band in the visitor center and along the trail. Interpretive signs and displays give context for how Native Americans have used and managed the land historically and today.

Visitors can view the majestic High Falls by walking half a mile to the observation deck. It’s a sight to behold.

Our Work by the Numbers

3

LAND PROJECTS
completed for
this park

278

ACRES
of invaluable
land saved

100

PERCENT
of the parks' total
acreage saved by us

$507,500

DOLLAR VALUE
of land at time
of acquisition

Park Map showing project sites

Our Project Stories

Creating Grand Portage through vision & persistence

The High Falls on the Pigeon River, border of Minnesota and Ontario, Canada
red fox in woods looking at camera
Fox at Grand Portage State Park by Mike Chrun
forest floor
The forest floor at Grand Portage

Project Years: 1987 - 1990

Project Acres: 272

In the late 1980s only a few people knew about Minnesota’s most majestic waterfall. And it would have remained that way if volunteers with Parks & Trails Council not persisted in a vision of this place becoming a state park.

The land was originally owned by the Grand Portage Band but was lost due to a complex history rooted in the Nelson Act of 1889. It was eventually sold by the government to a married couple who owned it for decades. When the idea of a state park was discussed in the 1980s, they were intrigued. They knew the land was special. Shortly after discussions began, Parks & Trails Council bought the roughly 200 acres from the landowners who donated the remaining 81 of the acres for the initial boundaries of the park.

By this point, Parks & Trails Council had commissioned at least one study of the ecological value of the land and initiated discussions among the state and the Grand Portage Band and other interested parties to support the creation of a state park. After numerous complex negotiations, a novel idea emerged that led to the current arrangement in which most of the land is owned by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and leased to the MN DNR to operate the state park in partnership with the tribe. And now everyone can walk to see Minnesota’s tallest waterfall for themselves and learn about the Native American history of this area.

Dedication Pamphlet (2000)

Preserving the view from Middle Falls

Project Years: 1998 - 2000

Project Acres: 22

Sometimes we acquire land outside of a state park knowing that it is essential for the integrity of the park. Such was the case in 1998 when land on the Canadian side of the Middle Falls waterfall went up for sale. We acquired the land and it became an extension of the provencial park that offers protection of these majestic falls.

Adding land for a new welcome center

Welcome sign at Grand Portage State park
Welcome sign acknowledges Parks & Trails Council's role in establishing Grand Portage

Project Years: 2007 - 2008

Project Acres: 6.3

While discussions with the landowner adjacent to Grand Portage State Park had started before the park was even established, it wasn’t until 2007 that the land became essential for a new visitor center. At that time Parks & Trails Council picked up the conversation where it left off and helped to acquire the land.

In another cooperative arrangement for the park, this land was eventually conveyed to the Minneota Department of Transportation. The site is now used for the dual purpose of a wayside for road travelers and state park visitors. Located less than a mile from the border patrol station, many Canadians enter here and are welcomed by the visitor center.

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