Fall/Winter Naturalist Programs


Great Lakes Ghost Stories

The tales of ghost ships, haunted lighthouses, and other restless spirits which inhabit the five Great Lakes are told in this spine-chilling activity.

Ham Lake Fire

Eleven years ago, a giant wildfire started at Ham Lake, and spread throughout much of the Gunflint Trail.  Residents were evacuated, and many structures were destroyed.  Over a thousand fire fighters from all over the continent helped fight the fire.  The forest was reborn in an incredible way.  Come to this fascinating presentation and hear what this event was like from one of the firefighters who experienced it.

Lake Superior Shipwrecks

Come learn about some of the over 500 shipwrecks on our nearest Great Lake, including the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Minnesota Ghost Stories

Did you know that most of the college campuses in Minnesota are reputed to be haunted?  How about that you most likely passed several haunted sites on the way up here.  Learn about these stories and much more at the Minnesota Ghost Stories program.

Minnesota Storm History

Minnesotans love to talk about the weather.  We take a certain pride in surviving the worst Mother Nature can throw at us.  In this fascinating program, we will discuss the severe weather from the late 1800s to the present.

Mission to the Moon – New

Learn about the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union from the launch of Sputnik 1 in 1957 to the final steps on the moon during the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.  This was an amazing time in the history of the world that everyone should know about.

Northern Lights – New

Come learn about myths, science, history, and forecasts of the Aurora Borealis in this fascination new presentation.

Shipwrecks of the Great Lakes

Did you know that there are thousands of shipwrecks on the bottom of the Great Lakes, including some you passed on the way here?  In this program we go over a variety of wrecks from all the Great Lakes, covering everything from the 60-foot Griffon to the 729-foot Edmund Fitzgerald.

Underground Railroad Presentation

The Underground Railroad is a major part of the culture of the Great Lakes Region.  The Great Lakes were often the last step to freedom, since Great Britain and her territories became free well before the United States.  Come to this program and learn about the fascinating first civil rights movement through stories and songs.


Celtic Music Show

Come hear music and poetry from Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Man, and Wales.  Many of the instruments of the Celtic Nations will be played, including some things you may not have seen before.  There will be some pictures of Ireland (including some of the places that are in the songs) as well as a chance to learn some basic words and phrases in the Irish Gaelic language.

Classic Country Music Show

Enjoy songs from the roots of Country Music.  You will hear Country Gospel, Old Time, Western, Bluegrass, and Honky-tonk played on the guitar, banjo, mountain dulcimer, mandolin, and fiddle.

Folk Music Show

Come learn about Folk Music through stories and songs performed on the guitar, mountain dulcimer, mandolin, banjo, ukulele, and fiddle.  Singing along is allowed, but not required.

Sing Along

Join John for a night of singing a wide variety of music from many genres.  The songs will be accompanied by the guitar, banjo, mandolin, and mountain dulcimer.

Songs of the Civil War – New

The American Civil War has been called the most musical of the wars, due to the large amount of powerful songs which came out of that rough time in our history.  This new program features music that was played on the battlefields and at home.  There will be songs from the Union, Confederacy, and some that were played on both sides.

Craft Projects

Birch Bark Bookmarks

Do you ever pick up a book, read a few chapters, and search high and low for something to use as a bookmark?  What if you could make your own bookmark which is suited to your personality?  Come to Birch Bark Bookmarks and make a wonderful personalized creation which will mark your pages for many years.

Candle Making

Learn the ancient art of candle making by creating a sand candle and dip candle.  Due to the length of time it takes to heat the wax, please sign up at least two hours in advance.

Dream Catchers

The dream catchers are an Anishinaabe device used to capture bad dreams, while letting the good dreams through the hole in the center.  The bad dreams that are caught in the webbing melt away with the morning dew.  Come to this craft and construct your own dream catcher which will influence your dreams for years.  Kids under age 15, please bring an adult helper.

Nature Journaling

Make your own pocket-sized journal for writing or drawing fascinating things in nature.

Northwoods Magnets

Create a great refrigerator magnet out of natural materials from the area.  Some of the things that have been made in the past were birch bark signs, animals made of pine cones, and small rocks which have been put together is various forms.

Paper Making

Have you ever wondered how recycled paper is made?  Come to this activity and find out.  Each participant will be able to take home their own hand-made recycled paper.  This ecologically friendly activity is fun for all ages.

Soap Making

Have you ever wondered how soap is made?  We will be melting the soap base, adding color and scent, and pouring it into a mold to get your very own bar of homemade soap.  We have a wide variety of bases, colors, scents, and molds to choose from in this exciting activity.

Woodsy Picture Frames

Come make an old-fashioned picture frame out of birch bark, cedar bark, and other pieces of our local environment.  When you get home, you can print out one of your pictures from your vacation and display it proudly for all to see.

Wreath Making

Come make your own wreath out of balsam fir boughs.  This program starts Thanksgiving weekend and is offered until shortly before Christmas.


 Boreal Birding Hike

Did you know that many of the Gunflint Trail’s winter birds spend their summers in the Arctic region?  Come on the Boreal Birding hike to learn about these birds and many more.

Bird Migration Hike – New

Spring and fall are the times to witness some of nature’s greatest journeys; the migrations of the birds.  Birding during migration is very exciting because you never know what you are going to see.  Some birds are migrating from the Gunflint Trail, others are migrating to it, and there are avifauna that are just coming through this beautiful region.  Come on this fun hike, see some amazing birds, and learn about one of the greatest adventures on Earth.

Birding Presentation and Hike

Learn the basics of backyard birding, including: field guides, optical equipment, effective feeding, and identification techniques, while viewing some of the common birds of the area.  There will be an optional hike at the end of the presentation.

Ravens, Crows, and Jays Presentation – New

Come learn about one of the most intelligent families of birds on Earth.  The Corvids are literally problem solving and tool using intelligent.  They can also be gifted mimics and have many other fascinating skills.

Daylight Hikes

Animal Tracking

To be an animal tracker is to be a nature detective.  Not only do we look at what kind of animal made the track, we also look at what the animal was doing at the time.  On this hike, we will search for the answers to questions such as; “Why is the bark missing from a part of this tree,” and “Why are these snowshoe hare tracks thirteen-feet apart?”  Learn the answers to these questions as well as many more in this enlightening activity.

Geology of the High Cliffs

The High Cliffs were formed underground during a major rifting event several eons ago.  Massive continental glaciers came through during the Great Ice Age, and dug away the softer surrounding rock, leaving gigantic cliffs towering above the landscape.  Learn about these things and much more on this fascinating hike in which we see one of the best geological views in Minnesota.

Geology Hike to Lookout Point

This is an easier version of the Geology of the High Cliffs Hike


During this hike we will focus on how to set up the picture to make it interesting, and we will take some great photos of things near and far.  A camera is not required for this activity.

Wild Edibles

There are wild edibles in the winter!  Some of the foods we will be talking about on this fascinating hike are cattails, pine needle tea, and Labrador tea.

Winter Wilderness Survival Presentation and Hike

You see a snowshoe hare through the trees and decide to follow it, so you can get a better picture.  After five minutes, it has disappeared, and so has the trail.  Everywhere you look, the trees look the same.  You are now lost.  Come to this activity and learn how to survive with your extra time in the forest.  We will cover a basic survival method, equipment, shelters, and navigation during this presentation and hike.

Night Hikes

Celestial Legends Night Hike

Have you ever heard the song “Follow the Drinking Gourd?”  Did you know that the song acted as a map for escaping slaves who were trying to gain their freedom, or that the drinking gourd is also known as the Big Dipper?  Learn about this, along with other fascinating celestial facts and legends as we take a trek under the stars.  Due to the lower light conditions, this activity is challenging.

Wolf Howling Night Hike

Join a naturalist on a night time trek through the wilderness as we communicate with one of the most spectacular of all northern animals, the gray wolf.  Along the way, we will learn about the wolf, and why it likes to howl.  This activity can be challenging due to the lower light conditions.

Things to Know about Night Hikes

  • Dress in warm layers. If there is any wind, make sure everything is covered.  Remember, it is colder when the sun goes down.
  • Wear warm boots with good traction.
  • If you want or need snowshoes, they must be picked up at the Outfitter’s rental shop prior to 4:00 PM.
  • Leave your white lights in your cabin; red lights are fine to bring along. White lights wreck night vision, red lights do not.
  • Hiking in the forest at night is an amazing experience that you will never forget!

Nordic Skiing Excursions

 Introduction to Nordic Skiing

Learning the basics of Nordic Skiing opens the way for a lifetime of fun winter fitness.  This activity is geared towards absolute beginners, people who haven’t skied in many years, and those who have tried skiing without any prior instruction.  Please get your skis and boots from the Outfitter’s building rental shop before arriving.  There is no need to get poles, as they are not used in the introductory lessons.  We start offering lessons when the ski trails are properly groomed and tracked.

Moon Lit Ski

Come ski by the light of the moon.  This activity is geared towards people of moderate or advanced ability only!

Activities upon Request

 Talk to a Naturalist well in advance if you are interested in these activities.  If possible, we will try to accommodate you.

Gunflint History Tour

Come learn about the history of one of the oldest resorts on the Gunflint Trail.  There will be some easy walking between historical sites.

Gunflint Lake History Presentation

This interesting activity surveys the human history of the area from 10,500 years ago to the present.  We will talk about the various indigenous tribes, the fur trade, the mining and railroads, the logging, and the resort history of Gunflint Lake.

Life of a Voyageur Presentation

The Voyageurs in the fur trade were like the truck drivers and truck engines of today.  They were the fastest way to get trade goods into the interior, and furs back to Europe.  Come to this activity and learn what the lives of these early adventurers were like well over a century ago.

Musical Jam Session

Bring your instruments and your voices to the Gunflint Nature Center for a good, old fashioned hootenanny.  The musical selections will depend on who is present, and we will take turns leading the songs if you are interested in doing so.  Otherwise, you can just join in on other people’s songs.  Listeners are always welcome!