Related: 40x40 List
I grew up 75 miles south of Pipestone, Minnesota. Though I didn't know anything about the town, I heard its name often as I tuned into their local KISD radio station. It's hard to believe I grew up so close to the Pipestone National Monument and didn't visit this beautiful (and sacred to many) land rich with cultural history.
Since Pipestone is less than an hour from Sioux Falls, I decided we'd swing by there on the way back to Minneapolis after spending a weekend with my parents and sister. It was a refreshing change to drive on two lane highways instead of the interstate. Southwestern Minnesota is prettier than I imagined.
We arrived in Pipestone around 1:00 PM and sadly it was cold with 30-40 mph wind gusts. Even though the weather conditions were less than ideal, it was so pretty so we bundled up as much as we could and walked the trails.
One trail leads you by a display quarry as well as the operational quarries where members of federally recognized Native American tribes are permitted to quarry the pipestone. That trail doesn't connect to the longer loop so we walked back to the fork in the trail and walked to Winnewissa Falls, Lake Hiawatha, Pipestone Creek, and other points of interest.
After walking the trails, we spent some time in the visitor center. Because Stewie was left in the car, we didn't watch the 22 minute film, "Pipestone: An Unbroken Legacy". As it turns out, had we watched the film, we probably would have understood some of the points of interest a bit more because some of the signs are lacking a lot of detail. For example, the marker for The Oracle doesn't really explain that by looking through the hole in the marker, you should be able to see a face shaped stone as pictured in this MPR news story.
We also need to go back so we can stop at the Three Maidens and I need to get my National Parks passport stamped!
While I can technically cross this off my 40x40 list, I want to return and experience the town of Pipestone and surrounding attractions like Blue Mounds State Park and Jeffers Petroglyphs.
I've recently started to appreciate the beauty of the Prairie - especially when the sun is shining on the golden tall grasses as they dance in the wind. I hope to return to Pipestone when leaves are on the trees and flowers are in bloom.
The Nivens Family