Plan a visit early in the day or late in the afternoon to admire the Jeffers Petroglyphs, a collection of 4,000 symbols crudely chiseled into pink quartzite prairie rock 1,000 years ago. (It’s easiest to view the carvings when the sun is at a low angle.) Park rangers lead tours out onto this remote patch of prairie in southwestern Minnesota’s Red Rock Ridge. Using a mirror and a board to create artificial shade, park staffers transform what look like mere faint scratches in full sunshine into distinct petroglyphs of turtles, snakes, atlatl (spear throwers) and animals.
The visitors center includes an artsy multimedia show in a small theater, plus exhibits of prairie plants and tools of the early woodland tribes. Family-friendly daily programs (usually at 2 p.m.) highlight topics such as Native American culture, prairies and archaeology. In fact, Native Americans still hold spiritual ceremonies in this sacred space.
The site is open seasonally Thursday through Monday between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend. Call for hours and details on special events and programs. Admission is $7 for adults; $6 for seniors and college students; $5 for children ages 6-17.