Featured Site: Grey Cloud Dunes SNA

Alora K. Jones, Marketing and Communications Associate, Mississippi Park Connection

Be sure to visit Grey Cloud Dunes Scientific Natural Area (SNA) during the spring or summer season. This remarkable area in Cottage Grove encompasses a rare type of prairie ecosystem with rising sand dunes sculpted by southwestern winds, some cresting as high as 20 feet. You can see distinct plant communities, even prairie skinks and uncommon blue racers, and of course beautiful views of the Mississippi River.

Visitors will find Grey Cloud Dunes SNA to be a great spot for hiking, birding, wildlife watching, and nature photography – so don’t forget to bring your binoculars and camera. Scientific Natural Areas are designated by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and differ from state parks and trails in that they are largely left undisturbed to protect our state’s biological diversity and to prevent the destruction of important ecosystems.

Because Grey Cloud Dunes is such a rare and delicate landscape, visitors are asked to tread lightly when hiking the area and to review the DNR’s regulations beforehand to help protect these ecologically valuable areas. SNAs do not have paved trails, restrooms, or drinking fountains, so do keep that in mind as you plan for your visit.

Join us at Grey Cloud Dunes on July 20 a habitat restoration activity, or go exploring on your own anytime!