Geography / Natural Resources
Minnesota is home to a very diverse geography and natural resources. In fact, it is home to four unique ecosystems (biomes) including; Coniferous Forest, Deciduous Forest, Tallgrass Aspen Parkland, and Prairie Grassland.
The following is a listing of the more unique geographic and natural resource features found in the State of Minnesota.
- Caves in Minnesota
Minnesota’s caves are located along the Mississippi River (and it’s tributaries) from the Twin Cities to the southeastern part of the State. They have played an important role in the history of Minnesota because they provided shelter from inclemental weather (during the winter months) for many of the earliest European and Canadian explorers and settlers.
- Devil’s Kettle Falls
An unusual waterfall where part of the water flows into a pothole known as the Devil’s Kettle. What makes the Devil’s Kettle so unusual is that no one really knows where the water flowing through it is going. It’s believed that the water makes its way out to Lake Superior by means of underground tunnels, but the exact destination of the water flow has yet to be determined. It is located 14 miles northeast of Grand Marais, MN just off State Highway 61. (map)
- Jeffers Petroglyphs (Cottonwood County)
Amid the prairie grasses in Southwest Minnesota are “islands” of uncovered rock that date back tens of thousands of years. In one of these areas, early American Indians left carvings in the form of petroglyphs which tells the story of native Minnesotan life dating back more than 5,000 years. These are called the Jeffers Petroglyphs. They are located in SW Minnesota. (map)
- The Lost Forty (Itasca County)
The Lost Forty received it’s name due to a surveying mistake made back in 1882. It’s an area of land that was incorrectly marked on survey maps, and as a result, it avoided any type of logging in the late 1800’s. It remains one of the oldest stands of virgin pine in the state, with trees dating back more than 300 years old. (map)
- Northwest Angle (Lake of the Woods County)
Have you ever noticed that little tip of land that extends northward on the northern border of Minnesota? (view map here). This is the Northwest Angle, and like The Lost Forty (above), it’s the result of a surveying error – this time back in 1783. The survey error wasn’t discovered until 14 years later, after the American and Canadian border had been established. The Northwest Angle is only accessible within the U.S. by water. If you want to reach it by land, you need to go through Canadian customs first. It is the northernmost territory in the contiguous United States.
For a listing of stats regarding geographic features in Minnesota, be sure to visit our Geography Facts and Stats page.