Grand Portage State Park will only be open on weekends until mid-August, due to site preparation work for a new 5,800 square foot visitor center. The park will be open from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, but parking will be limited.
Construction activities in high-traffic areas of the park has prompted the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to close the park Monday through Thursday, beginning July 20, out of concern for visitor safety.
For the next two to three weeks, construction workers will be driving piles within 20 feet of the trail to High Falls, Minnesota’s highest waterfall. Workers will also be operating forklifts, cement trucks, and other equipment along the trail and in the parking lot.
The construction does not affect access to Grand Portage National Monument.
“High Falls is the main attraction at Grand Portage State Park, and the trail to the waterfall is heavily used,” park manager Rick Novitsky said in a media release. “We looked at our options and concluded that it is just not possible to mix visitor and construction traffic safely during the next few weeks.
According to the statement, a partnership among the DNR, the Minnesota Department of Transportation, and the Grand Portage Band of Ojibwe has helped to create the new facility, which will replace a 30-year-old double-wide trailer that previously served as the park office. Construction workers broke ground for the project on June 15. The DNR expects the new visitor center to open in June 2010.
The center will double as a MnDOT highway rest area with travel information as well as an exhibit hall showcasing the life and culture of the Grand Portage Band of Ojibwe, on whose land the park is located. The center will feature a view of the Pigeon River.