Pipestone National Monument

Our trip west with grandson's Aren and Ryan Carlson would take us to many wonderful National Parks and Monuments and the first, though lesser know was Pipestone - a small Monument in SW Minnesota. Here the focus is on the Native Americans who frequented this site for generations and the stone that drew them.  It is also an example of prairie habitat.

This place was celebrated in a classic painting by the artist Catlin and showed the quarrying of pipestone - which unfortunately was then given the name catlinite - ridiculous even though we like Catlin's work.

The important thing about this site is that it is still a place where Indians come to collect the soft claystone for creating pipes and other pieces of art. There is usually a Native artisan in residence carving within the visitor center.  A very good set of displays to explore the geologic story of the land and the Indian's connection with it.  Outside there are the active pits and a paved trail that leads you through the prairie, past an ancient quartzite rockface, along a stream and up to a beautiful waterfalls. It is a cool retreat on a hot summer day.

We stopped by the rocks that are known as the Three Maidens and had a picnic before going to see the exhibits and trail.


In a land of farms and prairies, it is nice to find a place with a few trees for shade and natural cooling, especially on a day when the temperature hovered around 93F.

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