Grand Portage to open visitor center Saturday
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 Saturday.
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 life 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; the Minnesota Department of Transportation; and Explore Minnesota Tour-ism.
Family-oriented activities will take place 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.
Naturalists and volunteers will be stationed along the half-mile trail to High Falls, which is accessible to visitors of all abilities. Visitors will be able to work on make-and-take projects at each location. The 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 fry bread, from local vendors on site.
Construction workers began work on the site June 15, 2009, for the 5,800-square-foot building, which will provide year-round services. It replaces the seasonal Grand Portage Bay rest area and travel information center, which was open for just 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.