GRANDE PORTAGE, MN – Against a backdrop of fall color that will be at or near peak and a short distance from the state’s highest waterfall, a new visitor center at Grand Portage State Park will be the subject of a community celebration on Saturday, Sept. 25.
The structure and its surroundings will serve as a new highway rest area, a state travel information center, and park visitor center, complete with exhibits showcasing the lifeways of the Grand Portage Band of Chippewa.
The project is a partnership with the Grand Portage Band, on whose land the park is located; the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR); the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT); and Explore Minnesota Tourism. Family-oriented activities will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with a building dedication at noon. Activities will feature a pipe ceremony and ribbon-cutting, along with local drummers and dancers.
During the event, naturalists and volunteers will be stationed along the half-mile trail to High Falls, which is accessible to visitors of all abilities. Visitors of all ages will be able to work on make-and-take projects at each location. These educational projects will touch on topics including Lake Superior, traditional wild rice harvesting, fall colors, black bears, moose and wolves. Visitors can bring a picnic lunch or purchase food, including Native American fry bread, from local vendors who will be on site that day.
Construction workers broke ground on June 15, 2009, for the 5,800-square-foot building, which will provide year-round services to travelers. It replaces the seasonal Grand Portage Bay rest area and travel information center, which was open for about five months a year. The travel information center will be staffed by the Grand Portage Band.
A new trail to the falls, a new observation deck overlooking the Pigeon River, and a 30-foot “gathering shelter” to be used for programs and picnicking, have also been constructed at the park.