Pipestone National Monument Travel Guide

  • Pipestone National Monument
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  • The Three Maidens
    The Three Maidens
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  • Our picnic
    Our picnic
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Pipestone National Monument Things to Do

  • Circle Trail

    This is a very nice, short little trail around Pipestone National Park. It takes you past some of the quarry sites, some prairie with beautiful wildflowers, pipestone rock formations, Winnewissa Falls, and the leaping rock. The leaping rock was used as a rite-of-passage for Native Americans leaving boyhood and entering manhood--they had to jump...

  • Three Maidens Picnic Area

    There are some picnic tables near the Three Maidens, which are three large rocks that are sacred to the Native American people of the area. The Three Maidens are seen as the guardians of the quarry, and traditionally quarriers would leave them an offering of tobacco before entering the quarry. Some still practice this today. It's a very nice,...

  • The Oracle

    Next the Circle trail climbs a stairway to the top of the rock wall, and from there you will get a view of another example of Nature's sculpture. This stone face is called "The Oracle." The old tribal Shamans (Medicine Men) believed that it could talk and voices were said to issue from it's cold stone lips. All was silent when we were there....

  • Active Pipestone Quarries

    Just before the Circle Trail returns to the Visitors Center, you will pass a series of acvive quarry pits where American Indians have quarried pipestone in years past, and continue to do so today. Nearly all the tribes that could obtain the stone used it for calumets or ceremonial pipes, the best known of which is the peace pipe. Other uses of the...

  • The Three Maidens

    As you leave the Pipestone National Monument you will see six huge boulders on the right side of the road. These boulders are of granite, which is wholly different from any of the other rock found in this vicinity.Scientists believe these were probably carried as one huge boulder by one of the glaciers that passed through this area many thousands...

  • The Circle Trail

    The Circle Trail, which begins and ends at the Visitor Center, leads to the principal points of interest in the monument. Although an intermittent light rain was falling as we walked the one mile trail, it was still a delightful experience.In this picture the trail leads through a small portion of the tallgrass prairie, which once extended for many...

  • Leaping Rock

    The earliest explorers such as Catlin and Nicollet had their curiosity aroused when they saw arrows stuck in the crack atop Leaping Rock. They learned from American Indians that traditionally a young warrior, to prove his valor, leaped this chasm and placed an arrow in the crack. In fact, it was related that on occasion a virtuous Indian maiden...

  • Inscription Rock

    On the ledge near the top of Old Stone Face you will find Inscription Rock, which bears the names of several early Minnesota pioneers. Some of the initials upon this rock, and other nearby rocks, were laboriously chisled by members of the Nicollet Expedition of 1838, the first United States government exploration party to visit the pipestone...

  • Old Stone Face

    This unusual Sioux Quartzite formation, known as "Old Stone Face," has been created entirely through the forces of erosion. On the Circle Trail a natural stairway leads upward around to the left of this formation. Some of the steps have a rippled surface which are believed by geologists to be the result of wave action when the stone was sand upon...

  • Native and Exotic Flora

    Approximately 300 different species of grasses and flowering plants grow within the boundaries of the monument. About 70 of these, including the beautiful blooming Tartarian Honeysuckle (pictured), have migrated to this area with the coming of the European settlers. Alien species are not altogether bad. Some, such as this Honeysuckle, offer not...

  • Visitors and Cultural Resource Center

    These authentic peace pipes are only one of many exhibits you will find at the Visitor's Center. In the same building a Cultural Resource Center helps to explain the art of pipemaking and Native American work with pipestone. American Indian craftspersons can be observed making pipes daily, Memorial Day through Labor Day. An Indian man and woman...

  • Sioux Quartzine Rock Wall

    Beyond Winnewissa Falls you will come to a rock wall of Sioux Quartzite. This is the stone that overlies the pipestone. Since the pipestone layer slopes underground in this direction from the quarry pits, it would be more than 100 feet below the surface at this point. Geologists tell us that this region was once a seashore. The pipestone was a...


Pipestone National Monument Off The Beaten Path

  • Wind Farms

    On the high plains of southwestern Minnesota some farmers are harvesting the wind, to generate electrical power. As we approached Pipestone National Monument from the north we were amazed to see dozens of hugh wind turbines stretching across the landscape, blades whirling. Driving east after leaving Pipestone we saw many more. We were interested to...

  • Fort Pipestone

    We list this as an Off-the-Beaten-Path tip because it is outside the boundaries of Pipestone National Monument, although it is directly across the highway from the entrance.Fort Pipestone is a privately owned and operated authenic replica of a Minnesota fort constructed on September 3, 1863, duiring the Sioux uprising. On that date local residents...

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