Great River Bluffs State Park, Winona
Great River Bluffs State Park is a state park of Minnesota, United States, on the Mississippi River southeast of Winona. Originally known as O. L. Kipp State Park, it was renamed in the late 1990s to describe better its resources. The park preserves steep-sided bluffs rising 500ft above the river and the narrow valleys between them, which support rare and fragile plant communities. Two of the bluffs have received further protection under the Minnesota Scientific and Natural Areas program, which are known as King's and Queen's Bluff Scientific and Natural Area.Great River Bluffs State Park is just one of the many highlights you can arrange to see using our custom trip planner, Winona Edition.
The region lies on sedimentary rock layers deposited on the floor of a shallow sea 500 million years ago. The lower, older layer is sandstone overlain by more recent dolomite rock. Much later a deep channel was carved into this stone by the ancient Mississippi River, which 10,000 years ago was greatly swollen from the melting glaciers to the north. The softer sandstone was eroded more easily, undercutting the dolomite on both banks of the river. The dolomite fractured off along vertical joints, leaving sheer rock faces still visible today. Side streams flowing into the Mississippi cut gullies into the river banks, creating a series of bluffs capped with erosion-resistant dolomite. Located in the Driftless Region of southeast Minnesota, the area was missed by the most recent Wisconsonian glaciation, and therefore is a region of deep river valleys dissecting the upland plains.
Great River Bluffs State Park Reviews
This was the last park that we visited in a long line of parks mid-November. We drove in and were struck by how remote (off main roads) this park was. We saw two deer, one one the drive in to the park... more »
This park has many trails along the bluffs, through forested areas and across prairie-like grassland. Great views of the Mississippi. The park itself doesn’t have water features ( no lake, etc.), just... more »
After visiting every single state park in Minnesota, this one without a doubt was my favorite. Staff were very friendly, it's close to Winona and Lacrosse if you don't want to camp, but yet it feels isolated. The campground is far away from the highway, and it feels as if you are in your own world. The views from this park are incredible, and the hiking trails are well maintained.
Lots of good hiking and lots of different trails to explore. A bit busier on the weekends in the summer but you would be hard pressed to find anyone there in the colder months or on the weekdays. It's a gorgeous area surrounded by valleys and bluffs, and of course the Mississippi River!
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