Thinking of Minnesota, it is quite predictable that one conjures up images of thick pine forests reaching skyward. But just as important to the state's history, and in their own way just as majestic, are the vast, fertile prairies that stretch west and south to the Great Plains.
In an area known as the Upper Minnesota River Valley, a beautiful river designated a State Scenic and Recreational River sweeps along a deep path carved out long ago by glaciers. Here, there are more discoveries and exciting things to do than you might expect.
In Granite Falls, you can watch the river cascade over the Granite Falls Dam, and you can touch some of the oldest exposed rock on earth, documented at 2.65 to 3.65 billion years old. Also, there's archeological evidence dating to 4000 B.C. WesternFest, scheduled every June, features a full-fledged rodeo. Nearby is the Upper Sioux Agency State Park, with more than a thousand acres open to the public for camping, hiking, snowmobiling and horseback riding, public boat access, an interpretative center and numerous historic landmarks. Just southeast of town is the Granite Falls Golf Club, a nine-hole course open to the public.
In neighboring Montevideo, the Lac qui Parle Mission recreates the days dating back to the area's first settlement in 1826. Another glimpse into prairie life is available at the 20-acre Chippewa City Pioneer Village. Recreated at the site of 1856's Chippewa City, it includes more than twenty authentic shops and stores. Every summer, Montevideo celebrates Fiesta Days to salute its sister city of Montevideo, Uruguay.
Visitors find that two of the area's best for lodging are the Country Inn and Suites in Montevideo, and the Scenic Valley Motel in Granite Falls. Both offer attractive and reasonable rates.
For area visitor information, call the Granite Falls Chamber of Commerce, (320) 564-4039, or the Montevideo Chamber of Commerce, 1-800-269-5527.
For more information, call Prairie's Edge Casino Resort at 1-866-293-2121.
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