Since 1906 tourists by the thousands have enjoyed the scenic beauty of the world-famous Dalles of the St. Croix River by excursion boat. Our fleet of excursion boats includes the Taylors Falls Queen and the Taylors Falls Princess. The “Princess” can carry up to 250 passengers with The “Queen” holding up to 149. Both boats are enclosed on the lower level with the upper deck being open.
Daily Excursions are either 45 or 80 minutes. Your licensed boat pilot and tour guide will point out the unique rock formations that were left behind as the glaciers retreated thousands of years ago. Among the most outstanding formations is the huge stone cross for which the St. Croix River was named. “St. Croix” means Holy Cross.
Other sites that can be seen from the boats include the world’s largest glacial kettles or “potholes”, Lion’s Head, Turk’s Head, and the highlight of the boat tour, The Old Man of the Dalles – the most outstanding natural rock face you’ll ever see.
At Belwin, we spark passion for wild places. Through immersive community programs and environmental education, we inspire and engage people in the care of natural areas. Through land protection and habitat restoration, we revive threatened ecosystems so wildlife can thrive for generations to come.
In 1971, Belwin Conservancy began hosting outdoor education on 225 acres. In the decades since, Belwin has grown to more than 1,500 acres, and thousands of people have visited Belwin to learn from and explore our natural habitats. Are you one of them?
The Land We Are On
The land on which Belwin Conservancy exists is the ancestral home of the Wahpekute Dakota people, original stewards of this region. We recognize that despite government efforts to exterminate and diminish the Dakota, their connection to this land, water, history and lifeways perseveres today. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present, and emerging.
Whether Belwin has been your place to hike the trails, star gaze, bird watch, listen to music, watchbison, cheer for young athletes, or all of the above, we want to hear from you. Your stories will be shared throughout the year in celebration of this landmark anniversary.
Belwin Conservancy at 50: A Love Affair with Nature
The year kicked off with our retrospective exhibit at The Phipps Center for the Arts, curated by Susan Haugh, Belwin’s Program Director, with assistance by Anastasia Shartin, Visual Arts Director at The Phipps Center for the Arts. Take a virtual walk through below!
In the late 1960’s, Charles Bell and Lucy Winton Bell found themselves in a unique position to do something to help address the challenges of diminishing wild spaces, water pollution, and the lack of outdoor education for children. They had recently acquired 200 acres of ecologically diverse land in Afton, Minnesota and wanted to use it to counter these devastating trends.
In 1970, Lucy and Charlie signed an agreement with Saint Paul Public Schools that would dedicate their land to outdoor science education for children. They established the Belwin Foundation (a combination of their names, Bell and Winton) and donated 225 acres of their land to it. With the arrival of students in 1971, Belwin Outdoor Education Laboratory, now Belwin Outdoor Science, was born.
Over the years, this vision has brought over half a million children to Belwin Conservancy for outdoor science education and protected hundreds of acres in the St. Croix Valley from development.
Lucy Winton Bell, Charlie Bell, and Ken Berg (Deputy Superintendent, SPPS) celebrate Belwin Outdoor Environmental Lab.
Journey aboard the annual Pumpkin Train Express to the grassy pumpkin patch that only appears once a year, on this very special weekend!
When you arrive at the patch, each passenger gets to pick out their own pumpkin to take with them. The train ride is about 90 minutes total, and you’ll return to the Duluth Depot where you can stay all day to tour the railroad museum (included and open until 5pm). Normally we have lots of other activities in the museum, however this year some of those crafts/activities won’t be available. But all the great exhibits will be in the museum, along with live music in the outdoor boarding area. Helpful tip: Bring a bag to carry pumpkins in – Cloth grocery bags work great.
The Pumpkin Trains Weekend is October 21st thru October 24th! It’s an annual fall tradition you won’t want to miss, and is sure to create new memories you’ll want to experience each year. This year with limited capacities to help with social distancing.
Pricing starts at $20 per ticket Thursday & Sunday (ages 3 and up), $5 additional on Friday & Saturday (peak days) Reservations Strongly Suggested – Limited Seating
Duration: 1.5 Hours Distance 10 Miles roundtrip
October 21 – 24, 2021 10:00 am, 11:20, 12:50 pm, 2:20 or 3:50pm
New This Year!
Dome Car Seats on the Pumpkin Trains! Pay a little extra for a fancy seat in one of the two domecars. Some passengers will choose this option as a way to ride the kid-themed train, but enjoy a train excursion on a weekend when this trip is the only option.
On the train enjoy narration, Halloween music, and the beautiful scenery of the North Shore. Back at the depot, stay for magic shows, coloring, balloon twisting, Halloween movies, bounce houses, and more. ONE WEEKEND ONLY. Museum is open until 5pm and is included with your ticket.
The Lake Superior Railroad Museum, included with your ticket, is only open until 5pm. If you are on a later train, be sure to come early to enjoy the museum activities.
All ticketed passengers get 1 pumpkin included at the patch. Ages 2 and under are free however do not get a pumpkin included (parents usually share).
We’re sorry but the pumpkin patch train is NOT a fully wheelchair accessible event due to the historic nature of the train equipment and the accessibility of the patch itself. However, the 10am, 12:50 and 3:50 train is available for the ride only (cannot debaord wheelchairs at the patch and there are no accessible restrooms onboard).
The view from Minnesota’s highest point, Eagle Mountain.
Cook County has over 386 miles of incredible Minnesota hiking trails, including the infamous Superior Hiking Trail, which is sometimes called “the Appalachian Trail of the Midwest.” You’ll find hikes to suit every taste, ability and timeframe, all within a landscape beautiful enough to take anyone’s breath away. So take your pick: Lake Superior views, waterfall adventures, river hikes and national forest loops. Cook County has the best to offer when it comes to Minnesota hiking trails.
6 Awe-Filled Cook County Hikes
Hike the Boundary Waters. See the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) as you’ve never seen it before via the Kekekabic, Border Route, Magnetic Rock, and other Gunflint Trail hiking trails at locations like Chik-Wauk Nature Center.
Hike the wildest sections of the 277-mile Superior Hiking Trail, voted #2 in the nation by the readers of Backpacker magazine.
Encounter hundred-mile views of Lake Superior and the Superior National Forest from the peaks of the ancient Sawtooth Mountain Range, like local favorite Oberg Mountain. Along the shore find trails at Sugarloaf Cove Nature Center.
High Falls, the tallest waterfall in Minnesota, plunges 120 feet through a misty, thunderous gorge. Access this beautiful gem at Grand Portage State Park. The trail is paved and barrier-free.
Summit Eagle Mountain, the highest point in Minnesota was named “Best Hiking Trail in Minnesota” by the Star Tribune in 2013.
From stroller-friendly, barrier-free strolls to epic wilderness adventures, Minnesota hiking trails in Lutsen-Tofte-Schroeder, Grand Marais, the Gunflint Trail, and Grand Portage will help you find what you’ve been looking for.
Fall: Millions of Colorful Reasons to Visit This Fall
Cook County is the premier destination to view fall colors in Minnesota. Starting in early September, the air turns crisp and clear. Shortly after, the leaves begin to change, color painting the Superior National Forest with a palette of goldenrod, pumpkin orange and firetruck red. For a romantic getaway, escape during the midweek to avoid the fall color crowd – you’ll have the trails to yourselves.
In late fall, a different kind of show begins: the infamous gales of November. This is a chance to get cozy and watch Lake Superior unleash her wild side.
North Shore Fall Bucket List
Embrace your inner leaf-peeper. Marvel at all of the color that nature offers. View the fall colors drive maps.
Go on a “moosefari.” For your best chance of seeing one of the elusive moose, drive the Gunflint Trail National Scenic Byway early in the morning or around dusk. Even if you don’t spy a moose, you’ll see spectacular scenery. Learn more about moose in Cook County.
Hike the Superior Hiking Trail. Catch spectacular views from numerous peaks along the Sawtooth Mountain Range of Lake Superior and the Superior National Forest in full fall splendor. Learn more about hiking in Cook County.
Golf at Superior National. Open into October, you can get in a few more rounds and view spectacular fall colors by hitting the links at Superior National Golf Course. Learn more about golfing in Cook County.
Find your true colors and get inspired. Shop our local galleries and find artisan crafted gems. Feeling inspired? Take a class at North House Folk School or the Grand Marais Art Colony.
Revel at a festival.
Catch the fall bird migration. The boreal forest is at the heart of the migratory path for numerous bird species. From the peak of a mountain, witness a hawk migration or stay up late and listen for the hoot of an owl. Learn more about the birds in Cook County.
Experience the late fall storm season. Starting in late-October, low-pressure systems from the Arctic swing down over Lake Superior and bump into warmer systems fed by the jet stream. These collisions can spawn ferocious gales. If you get a thrill from waves and wind, Cook County has plenty of snug harbors for storm-watching.
Let the festivities begin! Sever’s Fall Festival is officially open for the season and all of your favorite activities are back: MN’s largest corn maze, zip lines, corn pits, face painting and so much more!
Established in 1997, Sever’s Fall Festival is the Midwest’s original fall festival and home to its first and largest corn maze. But that’s only the beginning of the adventures you’ll have here.
ABOUT THE FALL FESTIVAL
Established in 1997 when we cut our very first corn maze, Sever’s Festivals is now a full portfolio of family-friendly events put on year-round on our 100-acre grounds in Shakopee, Minnesota. From our flagship Fall Festival to seasonal light shows and more, Sever’s Festivals is where families come to make memories and establish traditions for years to come.
It all started with our corn maze: the second ever cut in the United States and the first—and still largest—in Minnesota. Back in 1997, many thought we were crazy to create one, but what began with a few stalks of corn has grown into an annual tradition for thousands of families around the region.
Fun fact: The first year of the corn maze saw about 5,000 attendees, with the only other “attraction” being a table where we sold cookies. Today, Sever’s Fall Festival draws about 20x as many people and hosts an ever-expanding list of attractions including corn pits, jumping pillows, petting zoos, playgrounds, live shows, zip lines, pumpkin patches, local artisans, food vendors, beer, wine and more.
Each season, we cut our corn maze by hand (without using GPS) to ensure a clear and accurate design. We also work year-round to add new activities and entertainment to the Fall Festival lineup, always with the goal of bringing more families and friends in to enjoy this beloved fall tradition. We sincerely appreciate your support and patronage of Sever’s Fall Festival. We hope you’ll come see us soon!
Applefest, one of the oldest festivals in Southeastern MN, celebrates 72 years in 2021. In addition to typical festival activities, we will have orchard tours, a bean bag tournament, royalty coronation, 5k run/walk, & apple pie slices. The King Apple Parade on Sunday at 1pm is the highlight of the weekend.
The La Crescent Apple Festival was founded in September 1949 by Ralph Jones and Mel Hickenbotham, with the purpose of promoting La Crescent, its apple industry, and “putting La Crescent on the map”.
The initial planning session was held just two weeks prior to the fest. The first Apple Festival was a huge success, drawing a crowd of nearly 20,000 people and was just a sample of what was to come, as the festivals have grown in size and quality every year. The Apple Festival was incorporated in 1958 with a seven-member board. It has grown to allow for a maximum board of 42.
Apple Festival Inc. is a not-for-profit organization. Board members donate their time and pay their own expenses. All profits made from the festivals are given back to the community for various projects. The Apple Festival, Inc. was instrumental in the building of the swimming pool and the youth hockey warming house. They have purchased beepers for the fire department, playground equipment, build a tennis court, and other numerous projects.
Famous banquet speakers over the years have included visits by ABC news broadcaster Paul Harvey in 1957 and 1961. In addition to Paul’s visit in 1961, Minnesota Governor Elmer Anderson and Miss USA, Minnesota’s Barbara Peterson also attended.