|Hole-in-the-Mountain WMA & County Park|
These 3 areas are remnants of what was once a 4,300-acre prairie landscape. They are situated on a steep valley along the outer edge of the Coteau des Prairie, a flat highland that formed by glaciers between the James and Des Moines River basins. Its plant communities include 200 species of wild ...
Blue Mounds State Park
|Description: This site is located on the uplands of the Coteau des Prairie that separates the Missouri and Minnesota River watersheds. Over 1,500 acres of prairie and grasslands make Blue Mounds one of the largest prairie parks in the state. The park lies on top of a large outcrop of Sioux quartzite that forms a mound almost two miles long and 100 feet above the surrounding land. The outcrop appeared blue to settlers going west in the 1860s and 1870s. They named the prominent landmark, the Blue Mound. At one time, natural processes– e.g. frequent wild fires and short duration, high intensity grazing by huge herds of bison and other native grazers – naturally selected for the plant community we know as prairie. A small herd of bison is reside at the park; giving visitors a glimpse of the area's past prairie heritage. Season long grazing by livestock and lack of natural prairie fires in the past altered remnant prairie.|
Today, management practices such as prescribed burns, patch burn grazing and control of invasive exotic plants are helping to restore the prairie. Prairie plants include needle and thread, big and little bluestem, prickly pear cactus and buffalo grass. The park has two man-made lakes, formed by dams on Mound Creek that were built during the 1930s. This water habitat is scarce in lake-less Rock County since it is the only county in Minnesota without a natural lake.
Wildlife to Watch: Located in the Inner Coteau Subsection of the Prairie Parkland Ecological Province, Blue Mounds attracts a wide variety of interesting and unusual birds, including a number of casual and accidental species. This is the most reliable place in the state to find the blue grosbeak and the only place in the state where Brewer’s sparrow has been recorded. Large areas of grassland provide good habitat for sparrows and rarities such as lark buntings.
Other rare species such as burrowing owls and lined snakes have been reported, and vagrant species from the west, such as Say's phoebe, occasionally are spotted in the vicinity. Other wildlife to look for include: coyotes, red fox, spotted sandpipers, western meadowlarks, horned larks, white-tailed jackrabbits, fox snakes, bobolinks and savannah, chipping and song sparrows. A large herd of white-tailed deer winters in the park.
Special Tips: Campsites at Minnesota State Parks now can be reserved through the centralized reservation service by calling 1-866-85PARKS (1-866-857-2757) or online at stayatmnparks.com.
Seasonal Park Update
Other Activities: Spring and fall may offer best bird watching although summer offers also includes opportunities for viewing other wildlife like butterflies and bison as well as prairie flowers.
Ownership: MN State Parks
Size: 1579 acres
Closest Town: Luverne
Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing: