Pipestone National Monument
36 North Reservation Avenue, Pipestone, MN, USA
www.nps.gov/pipe - (507) 825-5464
Pipestone National Monument Reviews
Rock walk and cultural demonstrations Sep 20, 2008
Pipestone National Monument is home to a special rock held sacred by the Native American Indians. This durable, soft, red stone is used to carve pipes traditionally used for ceremonial smoking. The pipestone is found 10-15 feet below the hard, pink Sioux Quartzite and is only accessible by hand quarrying through the quartzite using hand tools such as sledgehammers, chisels and wedges. Only people affiliated with a Native American Indian tribe are allowed to quarry pipestone and remove the stone from the park through a special permit.
The Monument has a wonderful 3/4 mile Circle Trail that takes you through tallgrass prairie, along Pipestone Creek, along a quartzite wall outcropping, past Winnewissa Falls, and along several past and current quarries. An informational booklet is available to borrow and provides interesting information on several features along the trail. You pass a few outcrops that have Native American legends associated with them as well as early American Pioneer graffiti. The trail is hard and mostly level but can be uneven in some places.
The Visitor Center has a little museum with a video, a nice display on prairie plants, the use of bison, petroglyphs, carvings, and cultural demonstrations during the warmer months. A man was carving the stone into a pipe and a woman was carving the smaller, leftover pieces into little animals. Both were willing to answer any questions and were very knowledgable and respectful of their cultures. The giftshop has several carved items for sale including pipes, figurines, necklaces, and magnets. You can also try your hand at cutting the soft pipestone.
For a mere $3/person or $5/car load, this was a stop worth visiting. The ticket is good for 7 days. The trail was gorgeous and peaceful and I learned a lot on this visit. I just went to see the famous rock but instead I learned much more about the culture associated with pipestone.
Part of the The Tracy job - 9 weeks and counting travel blog
Part of the list Minnesota State Parks
Part of the list Stops for the geologist
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