Summer’s not over yet, and if you head north, passing through Bemidji on the way to the Canadian border, allow some time to stop and explore the Big Bog State Recreation Area in Kelliher.
The Big Bog is a unique nature area, a peat bog 500 square miles large, the biggest such bog in the contiguous U.S. It was long the source of medicinal plants for Native Americans, but the first European settlers to the area tried—and failed—to drain it to turn it into arable land.READ MORE: Mayor Frey Speaks With North Minneapolis Community Members Saying They're Fed Up With Recent Surge Of Gun Violence
In the northern part of the recreation area is Ludlow Island, which serves as the gateway to the bog. Back in 2005, the state put in a mile-long, environmentally friendly boardwalk, allowing visitors to walk deeply into the bog and learn about its flora and fauna without damaging the bog’s ecosystem.
The boardwalk is constructed in such a way that it allows sunlight and rain to sift through it, meaning the plants beneath don’t suffer from lack of those necessities. Periodically there are benches as well as plenty of interpretive signs to help you understand what you’re seeing and what you should look more closely for.READ MORE: Minnesota Can Move Forward With 'Clean Car' Rules, Judge Says
You’ll see plenty of trees, including boreal conifers and hardwoods. But as you get further down the boardwalk, trees take a back seat to lower-growing plants, many of which are on Minnesota’s endangered species list, including bog rush and sundews.
Depending on the time of year, you may also see plants rarely seen elsewhere in Minnesota, including carnivorous plants and orchids. This is also a bird-watcher’s paradise.
Adjacent to the boardwalk is a picnic shelter, and just down the road is the southern part of the recreation area, which has campsites, boat launches, and a swimming beach.MORE NEWS: George Floyd's Family: Federal Indictment For Four Ex-MPD Officers 'Gives Us Hope'
What else is happening in our state? Be sure to check out the 10 p.m. Sunday night WCCO newscasts, where you can learn more in the weekly segment, Finding Minnesota.