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Visitors to Grand Portage State Park this weekend will find new trails, including its most popular, the one to Pigeon River and the High Falls, the tallest waterfall in the state. Minnesota DNR

Grand Portage to open visitor center Saturday

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outdoors Two Harbors, 55616
Lake County News Chronicle
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Two Harbors Minnesota 109 Waterfront Dr. 55616

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.

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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.

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