Geology in state parks

Agate Center

Many of Minnesota's state parks are home to fascinating geological features, including old mines and quarries, and evidence of volcanoes, glaciers and ancient seas. Come see for yourself! Stop by the park's ranger station to learn more about local geologic features and to see if there are any interpretive programs or tours during your stay.

Remember - rock collecting is not allowed in any state parks or state recreation areas. 



Banning State Park (Sandstone, MN)
This park contains many old sandstone quarries, which were opened in the 1870s and 1880s when sandstone was a popular building material.

Blue Mounds State Park (Luverne, MN)
From a distance, this park's Sioux quartzite cliff appears to blue. This geological formation is about 1.5 billion years old, and was probably formed in a shallow sea. Take the park's Prairie and Bison tour and get a closeup look at some of the rocks in the prairie. 

Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park (Preston, MN)
Take one of the Mystery Cave tours. You'll see lots of stalactites (calcite deposits hanging from the cave roof) and stalagmites (calcite deposits rising from the cave floor). You'll also see standing pools and flowstone, which formed when groundwater saturated with calcium carbonate evaporated within a rock cavity.

Interstate State Park (Taylor's Falls, MN)
This park is known for its glacial potholes, created 11,000 years ago when rivers drained the glacial lake to the north. 1.1 billion years ago the basalt rock formation confined the river to a gorge, and the river cut through overlying siltstones, sandstones and some of the basalt to create potholes. Take one of the pothole interpretive tours. 

Jay Cooke State Park (Carlton, MN)
This park is home to the Precambrian Thomson Formation - a layer of mud that was compressed and hardened into shale, then compressed further into slate, and finally folded approximately two billion years ago.

Lake Bemidji State Park (Bemidji, MN)
Take a walk on the bog trail and explore the surrounding peatland.

Lake Vermilion-Soudan Mine State Park (Soudan, MN)
Go almost a half mile below the earth's surface to view the world of underground mining. Opened in 1883, the Soudan Mine is Minnesota's oldest and deepest iron ore mine. You'll see Ely Greenstone, volcanic rocks, and sediments formed in oceans over 2.7 billion years ago.

Maplewood State Park (Pelican Rapids, MN) and Glacial Lakes State Park (Starbuck, MN)
These two parks are near each other, and both feature evidence of glacial action. Kames - or cone-shaped hills - were formed when glaciers deposited loads of sand and gravel within a depression of ice. When the ice melted, the deposits became hills.

Moose Lake State Park (Moose Lake, MN)
Be sure to visit when the Moose Lake Agate and Geological Center is open! The Lake Superior agate is composed of quartz with distinctive red and white banding, and at 1.1 billion years old, it's not only Minnesota's state gemstone - it's also the oldest of the world's agates.


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