I spent my college years living in a small, rural town in western Minnesota. Not only did this city girl learn the hard realities of life on the prairie where blowing wind could snow the town in for weeks at a time, but I also found Minnesota’s very own mountain range.
When people think of the prairie, images of flat and endless fields of farmland, tall and blowing grasses, and classic tales of pioneer life often come to mind. In west-central Minnesota, however, the Leif Hill Moraines (sometimes called “Leaf Mountains”) form an arc up to twenty miles wide and 200 miles long.
Up to 350 feet high in some places, these rolling hills cover the landscape and create spectacular views of deciduous forests, lakes and prairies. Once inhabited by Paleoindians, the area was later held by the Dakota and then the Ojibwa. When settlers arrived, the hills were used for raising livestock.
Today, only about 1/10 of 1 percent of the original Minnesota prairie still remains. At Glacial Lakes State Park, they work to preserve these rare native plants and grasses. In the spring and summer,visitors can see prairie clover, pasque flowers, coneflowers, and goldenrods in addition to native grasses.