This site is famous as a place people have come for 2,000 years to mine the red quartzite rock (also known as catlinite). The soft sedimentary stone is relatively easy to carve into smoking pipes and effigies. Only American Indians are allowed to quarry here today with the proper permits.
April through October, you can watch American Indian carvers
at the National Park Service museum demonstrate how to sculpt this soft yet
durable stone into hollow pipes and other beautiful ornaments. It is illegal to remove any rocks without a
permit, but you can buy carvings in the gift shop.
A 0.75-mile trail leads past historic rock quarries to
Winnewissa Falls, just the spot to be on a hot summer afternoon. The remnants of tallgrass prairie protected
within the park boundaries give an idea of what this entire region might have
looked like before it was converted to farms.
28 miles southwest across the border in South Dakota’s Palisades State Park where the same red quartzite rock dramatically rises above muddy Split Rock Creek and is a great place to picnic or watch rock climbers.
Beaver fur top hats were a must-have fashion accessory for every wealthy man in Europe and America in the late 1700s. To access the trapping grounds to the west, it was necessary for the French-Canadian voyageurs to walk their canoes along an 8 mile portage to bypass the rapids on the Pigeon River. In 1784, the end of the trail on the edge of Lake Superior became the site of the North West Company headquarters where they held an annual Rendezvous—a giant party and opportunity for trade.
Reconstructed fort, Ojibwa village, living history demonstrations, Rendezvous Days every August
Walk around the reconstructed buildings and talk with the costumed reenactors that demonstrate canoe building, bread baking, weapons firing, and other activities during the summer.
Day hikers and backpackers can follow the historic Grand Portage Trail 8.5 miles one-way along the Pigeon River to the former site of Fort Charlotte. The 300 foot climb to the top of Mt. Rose is also popular for views of Lake Superior.
The reconstructed North West Company headquarters buildings have wonderfully warped glass panes which are fun to take photographs through.
All roads to the monument are paved, but Partridge Falls Road offers four-wheel drive opportunities.
The only camping inside the park are two backpacking sites at Fort Charlotte available with a free permit. Most people waiting to catch the morning ferry to Isle Royale National Park camp at Grand Portage Casino right on Lake Superior or 20 miles south at Judge Magney State Park.
Explore More – After hat fashion changed to silk instead of beaver, when was the portage abandoned?