Spring/Summer Naturalist Programs

Our Naturalist program is included with you stay at Gunflint Lodge! Our naturalists will lead activities in the Nature Center, on the Lodge property, on the lake and on the water. They will help you to learn about the animals, geography and history of our unique area. They are always happy to answer your questions and to recommend a hike or day trip on the lake. They can really add to your experience in the Northwoods!


Bats (Coming Summer 2019)

Did you know that the little brown bat (one of the local species) can eat up to 1,600 mosquitoes per hour? Come learn about these amazing flying mammals in this fascinating new presentation.

Fire Safety (Coming Summer 2019)

How often should you change your smoke alarms? What are some common things that cause fires in homes? How do you use a fire extinguisher? Are fire sprinklers effective? Come to this fascinating new presentation and learn the answers to these questions and many more.

Great Lakes Ghost Stories

The tales of ghost ships, haunted lighthouses, and other restless spirits which inhabit the five Great Lakes are told in this spine-chilling activity.

Ham Lake Fire

Twelve years ago, a giant wildfire started at Ham Lake, and spread throughout much of the Gunflint Trail. Residents were evacuated, and many structures were destroyed. Over a thousand fire fighters from all over the continent helped fight the fire. The forest was reborn in an incredible way. Come to this fascinating presentation and hear what this event was like from one of the firefighters who experienced it.

Lake Superior Shipwrecks

Come learn about some of the over 500 shipwrecks on our nearest Great Lake.

Minnesota Ghost Stories

Did you know that most of the college campuses in Minnesota are reputed to be haunted? How about that you most likely passed several haunted sites on the way up here? Learn about these stories and much more at the Minnesota Ghost Stories program.

Minnesota Storm History

Minnesotans love to talk about the weather. We take a certain pride in surviving the worst Mother Nature can throw at us. In this fascinating program, we will discuss the severe weather from the late 1800s to the present.

Mission to the Moon  New

This summer will be the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing. The Moon landing was planned and accomplished in eight and a half years, proving that our country and humanity can accomplish amazing things, even in times of great strife. Come to this interesting new presentation and learn about the space program up through the most recent moon landing in 1972.

Northern Lights

Come learn about one of the most fascinating phenomena around the world in this fascinating presentation about the Aurora Borealis.

Sensational Snakes

Join John and his reptilian companions to learn about the ecology, biology, and mythology surrounding these fascinating, yet very misunderstood creatures.

Shipwrecks of the Great Lakes

Did you know that there are thousands of shipwrecks on the bottom of the Great Lakes? You actually passed several of the wreck sites on your way up here. In this program we go over a variety of wrecks from all of the Great Lakes, covering everything from the 60-foot Griffon to the 729-foot Edmund Fitzgerald.

Underground Railroad Presentation

The Underground Railroad is a major part of the culture of the Great Lakes Region. The Great Lakes were often the last step to freedom, since Great Britain and her territories became free well before the United States. Come to this program and learn about the fascinating first civil rights movement through stories and songs.

Presentation and Hike

Trees that Talk – New

Come on this wonderful new presentation and hike to learn about the trees in the area. Learn the stories the trees can tell through their unique evidence.

Wilderness Navigation – New

It is a great idea to have the ability to use a map and compass, as well as a GPS when you are out in the wilderness. In this interesting new program, we will spend time learning the basics of these types of navigation, and then put your new skills to work on our trails.

Wilderness Survival

You see a snowshoe hare through the trees and decide to follow it, so you can get a better picture. After five minutes, it has disappeared, and so has the trail. Everywhere you look, the trees look the same. You are now lost. Come to this activity and learn how to survive with your extra time in the forest. We will cover a basic survival method, equipment, shelters, and navigation during this presentation and hike.


Celtic Music Show

Come hear music and poetry from Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Man, and Wales. Many of the instruments of the Celtic Nations will be played, including some things you may not have seen before. There will be some pictures of Ireland (including some of the places that are in the songs,) as well as a chance to learn some basic words and phrases in the Irish Gaelic language.

Classic Country Music Show

Enjoy songs from the roots of Country Music. You will hear Country Gospel, Old Time, Western, Bluegrass, and Honky-tonk played on the guitar, banjo, mountain dulcimer, mandolin, and fiddle.

Gunflint Folk Music Show

Come learn about Folk Music through stories and songs performed on the guitar, mountain dulcimer, mandolin, banjo, and fiddle. Singing along is allowed, but not required.

Old-Time Gospel Music Show – New

This music show is good for the soul. John will play a nice variety of Gospel Music on a variety of acoustic stringed instruments.

Sing Along

Join us for a night of singing a wide variety of music from many genres. The songs will be accompanied by the guitar, banjo, mandolin, and mountain dulcimer.

Songs of the Civil War

The American Civil War has been called the most musical of the wars, due to the large amount of powerful songs which came out of that rough time in our history. This new program features music that was played on the battlefields and at home. There will be songs from the Union, Confederacy, and some that were played on both sides.

Craft Projects

Birch Bark Bookmarks

Do you ever pick up a book, read a few chapters, and search high and low for something to use as a bookmark? What if you could make your own bookmark which is suited to your personality? Come to Birch Bark Bookmarks and make a wonderful personalized creation which will mark your pages for many years.

Candle Making

Learn the ancient art of candle making by creating a sand candle and dip candle. Due to the length of time it takes to heat the wax, please sign up at least two hours in advance.

Dream Catchers

The dream catchers are an Anishinaabe device used to capture bad dreams, while letting the good dreams through the hole in the center. The bad dreams that are caught in the webbing melt away with the morning dew. Come to this craft and construct your own dream catcher which will influence your dreams for years. Kids under age 15, please bring an adult helper.

Wire-wrapped Jewelry Making (Coming Summer 2019)

Come make some unique outdoor oriented jewelry with Jenna. Feel free to bring your own stone (less than 3 inches long) to put into your pendent.

Nature Journaling Craft and Hike

Make your own personalized journal in the Gunflint Nature Center, and then hike to a scenic location to write or draw in your new creation.

Northwoods Magnets

Create a great refrigerator magnet out of natural materials from the area. Some of the things that have been made in the past were birch bark signs, animals made of pine cones, and small rocks which have been put together is various forms.

Paper Making

Have you ever wondered how recycled paper is made? Come to this activity and find out. Each participant will be able to take home their own hand-made recycled paper. This ecologically friendly activity is fun for all ages.

Soap Making

Have you ever wondered how soap is made? We will be melting the soap base, adding color and scent, and pouring it into a mold to get your very own bar of homemade soap. We have a wide variety of bases, colors, scents, additives, and molds to choose from in this exciting activity.

Woodsy Picture Frames

Come make an old-fashioned picture frame out of birch bark, cedar bark, and other pieces of our local environment. When you get home, you can print out one of your pictures from your vacation and display it proudly for all to see.

Crafty Competitions

Make a Boat and Race It

We will make boats out of birch bark, pine cones, sticks, and anything else we may find lying around on the forest floor. After construction is complete, we will race our boats in the creek by the Nature Center, or in Gunflint Lake if the creek is low.

Make a Glider and Race It

We will spend most of the activity making our own gliders out of craft sticks, and paper or cardboard. When everyone has completed their creation, we will have a race next to the nature center to see which one will fly the furthest. Due to the more advanced nature of designing and making a glider, all kids under age 12 must be accompanied by an adult. Participants can work in teams, or on their own.


Boreal Birding Hike

Oh, sweet Canada, Canada, Canada. Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all? Chickadee dee dee dee dee. These songs come from the white-throated sparrow, the barred owl, and the black-capped chickadee. Come on the Boreal Birding hike to learn about these birds and many more.

Birding Canoe Paddle

In this fun and informative paddle, we will learn about birds while searching for such species as the common loon, red-necked grebe, American black duck, common merganser, and much more. This activity will be moderately challenging.

Bird Migration Hike

Spring and fall are the times to witness some of nature’s greatest journeys; the migrations of the birds. Birding during migration is very exciting because you never know what you are going to see. Some birds are migrating from the Gunflint Trail, others are migrating to it, and there are also avifauna that are just coming through this beautiful region. Come on this fun hike, see some amazing birds, and learn about one of the greatest adventures on Earth.

Birding Presentation and Hike

Learn the basics of backyard birding, including: field guides, optical equipment, and identification techniques, while viewing some of the common birds of the area. There will be an optional hike at the end of the presentation.

Eagle Canoe Paddle – New

Come learn about our national bird while taking a scenic paddle.

Loon Kayak Paddle

There are several pairs of loons who nest on Gunflint and Magnetic Lakes. Learn some interesting facts about our state bird while paddling among them.

Kid’s Only Activities

Craft Sampler – New

This new activity will involve a variety of crafts geared towards kids. Ages 5+.

Fishing Fun

Come on a fun fishing trip on Gunflint Lake. We have a firm limit of 3 participants for this activity due to boat size. Ages 5 – 15.

Nature Discovery Hike

Find out why a piece of sandstone from many miles away is sitting right next to our trail. Learn how to find the tastiest fruit you have ever had, and much more on this fascinating hike. Ages 5+

Picnic in the Woods

Join a Naturalist for a fun, educational hike to a great picnic spot. Enjoy a wonderful lunch in a spectacular place. Let one of the Naturalists know if you have any dietary restrictions. Ages 5+

Pizza and Game Night

Kids can come enjoy a delicious pizza and play some fun games. Ages 5+

Scavenger Hunt

Learn about plants, rocks, geology, and more on this fun activity. When we are halfway through the hike, it will be your turn to find the items on the list. Prizes will be awarded when we get back to the Nature Center. You must be able to read (or have a helper with you who can read) to participate in this activity. Ages 6+

Supper and a Story

The participants of this activity will get to pick a story and eat dinner while listening to it. If you have any food allergies, let a Naturalist know in advance. Ages 5+

Daylight Hikes

Animal Tracking

To be an animal tracker is to be a nature detective. Not only do we look at what kind of animal made the track, we also look at what the animal was doing at the time. On this hike, we will search for the answers to questions such as; Why is the bark missing from a part of this tree, and Why are these snowshoe hare tracks thirteen-feet apart? Learn the answers to these questions as well as many more in this enlightening activity.

Berry Picking

Strawberries, dewberries, raspberries, Saskatoon berries, blueberries, and thimbleberries. When your mouth stops watering, come sign-up for this fun and delicious hike.

Geology of the High Cliffs

The High Cliffs were formed underground during a major rifting event several eons ago. Massive continental glaciers came through during the Great Ice Age, and dug away the softer surrounding rock, leaving gigantic cliffs towering above the landscape. Learn about these things and much more on this fascinating hike in which we see one of the best geological views in Minnesota.

Geology Hike to Lookout Point

This is an easier version of the geology hike listed above in which we travel to Lookout Point and learn about Gunflint Trail and Lake Superior Geology.

Magnetic Rock

This unique hike brings you along a magnetite ridge covered with blueberries, jack pines, and many other species born in the fires of the last thirty years.

Medicinal Plants

Learn about the plethora of plants with medicinal qualities on the Gunflint Trail.


During this hike we will focus on how to set up the picture to make it interesting, and we will take some great photos of things near and far. A camera is not required for this activity.

Wild Edibles

A lot of wonderful wild edibles come out throughout the spring, summer, and autumn. Learn about edible bark, cattails, ferns in their fiddlehead stage, berries, Labrador tea, and much more in this fun activity.

Night Time Wilderness Excursions

Animal Search

Join a Naturalist on a fun van ride on the Gunflint Trail and surrounding roads to search for moose, fox, snowshoe hare, bear, and many other animals. Parents will need to accompany children and bring car seats if they are less than eight years old.

Celestial Legends Night Hike

Have you ever heard the song Follow the Drinking Gourd? Did you know that the song acted as a map for escaping slaves who were trying to gain their freedom, or that the drinking gourd is also known as the Big Dipper? Learn about this, along with other fascinating celestial facts and legends as we take a trek under the stars. Due to the lower light conditions, this activity is challenging.

Moon Hike – New

Hike by the light of the Moon and learn some interesting facts about our celestial neighbor. This hike will be moderate (full Moon) to challenging (new Moon) in difficulty.

Sunset at Honeymoon Bluff

Can you think of a better way to begin the night than to view a beautiful sunset from an incredible overlook? How about seeing a moose on the way? The sky is the limit when it comes to this incredible activity. This moderately challenging hike is short, but steep. We take a van ride to the trailhead.

Sunset Canoe Paddle

Sunset is a wonderful time to see beaver, otter, deer, moose, a beautiful sky, and much more. Come on this moderately difficult paddle and view some things that you will never forget. Due to safety concerns, all kids under age 15 must be accompanied by an adult on paddling excursions.

Wolf Howling Night Hike

Join a naturalist on a night-time trek through the wilderness as we communicate with one of the most spectacular of all northern animals, the gray wolf. Along the way, we will learn about the wolf, and why it likes to howl. This activity can be challenging due to the lower light conditions.

Canoeing Excursions

*Due to safety concerns, all kids under age 15 must be accompanied by an adult on paddling excursions.

Cross River Adventure

Duck under an old bridge and take a trip back in time as you pass from Gunflint Lake into the Cross River. This river is shallow, with an abundance of wildlife and many small rapids which are enjoyable to paddle. The Cross River Adventure is challenging.

Granite River Day Trip

This beautiful route has changed little since the time of the Voyageurs, more than a century ago. As we make this journey through time, we will go past rapids, waterfalls, scenic rocky outcroppings, and water so clear that it is as though you are traveling through currents of air. This journey is challenging, but worthwhile. Limit of 8 participants due to BWCAW regulations.

Ham Lake Day Trip

Paddle up to scenic rapids, portage over ancient trails, journey past a rock that seems to change shape before your eyes and eat lunch on a beautiful campsite all on the Ham Lake Day Canoe Trip. This trip is moderate in difficulty.

Stairway Portage Day Trip

Take a journey through two of the lakes which have been immortalized in the song ‘The Far Northland’, on your way to the famous Stairway Portage, her scenic waterfall, and incredible overlooks of Rose Lake. This activity is challenging due to the portaging, and the moderately sized lakes. Limit of 8 due to BWCAW regulations.

Voyageur Canoe

All Voyageur Canoe activities are limited to 9 participants due to the boat size. The Naturalist will be doing the steering, so paddlers of all levels can participate. However, we need several adults on board to get our proper strength to weight ratio.

Voyageur Paddle

Sing the songs of the Voyageurs while paddling Gunflint Lodge’s replica of a 25-foot birch bark North Canoe (Canot du Nord). Learn about the lives these mariners led hundreds of years ago.

Voyageur Paddle and Lunch

Experience the lake the way the Voyageurs did, more than two hundred years ago, in a replica of a twenty-five-foot North Canoe. We will paddle this canoe to the Beaver Pond, where we will join the horseback riders for a meal cooked over the campfire. There may be a short portage over a sand bar, and we will have to wade in the water to reload the canoe, so wear shoes that can get wet. Due to the cost of the food, there will be a charge for anyone not on a meal plan. Anyone who signs up, but does not show up, will be charged.

Kayaking Excursions

*Limit of 4 participants on all kayaking activities, unless otherwise noted on the sign-up sheet, or you bring your own kayak. For safety, each child that is under age 15 must be accompanied by an adult. *

Fire and Ice Geology Paddle

There are several fascinating Precambrian geological formations within easy paddling distance of the lodge. Join one of our Naturalists to gain a new appreciation of extremely ancient history.

Seagull Lake Day Trip

Seagull Lake has the oldest known trees in the state, towering palisades, scenic islands, four stages of wildfire succession, and much more. This journey contains no portages, so it is moderate in difficulty.

Pontoon Excursions

Dessert Cruise

Enjoy a variety of desserts on board our pontoon boat. What a marvelous way to end a spectacular day! $12 Per Person | 6:45 pm – 7:45 pm

Fall Colors Cruise

The fall colors of the Arrowhead Region are more spectacular than anything else you will see in Minnesota and the surrounding states. Come on this comfortable cruise and enjoy this stunning sight.

Gunflint Lake History Cruise

Did you know that there used to be two towns, and two railroads on the shores of Gunflint Lake? How about the fact that there used to be a railroad trestle over the Gunflint Narrows, with customs on either side? Enjoy a relaxing cruise aboard our pontoon boat and learn about the incredible history of this beautiful place.

Snack Cruise

Savor an appetizer of cheese, crackers, and fruit as we take a pontoon boat trip on Gunflint and Magnetic Lakes. There will be a small fee for this activity.

Wildfire Ecology Cruise

In 2007, a wildfire bigger than any ever seen on the Gunflint Trail burned over much of the Gunflint Corridor, and well into Canada. Fire is the natural way a forest regenerates itself. While being an ending for some plants, it signals the birth of many others. Come on this fascinating cruise and learn about both wildfire ecology as well as local fire history.

Wine and Cheese Cruise

Come on a relaxing pontoon cruise with wine and cheese. Ages 21+. $19 Per Person | 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm

Boat and Hike

Boat Trip and Hike to Bridal Falls

Take a relaxing excursion aboard our pontoon boat on the six-mile journey to Bridal Falls. The short .6-mile hike in to the falls is full of unique plants such as jack-in the pulpit, coral fungus, and nodding trillium. The falls themselves come down on massive amounts of shattered slate, and head towards the lake in a roaring creek. This hike is of moderate difficulty, and you may get your feet wet. Dress in multiple layers of clothing as the pontoon ride may be cool, even if it feels warm on the dock.

Paddle and Hike to Little Rock Falls

Many people refer to this area as the land of sky blue waters. It is a name which became famous back in the 1970’s when a Hamm’s Beer Commercial was filmed at Little Rock Falls. This beautiful waterfall has changed little since the filming of the commercial, or since the Voyageurs paddled these waters hundreds of years ago. Due to the boulder filled trail and long paddle, this activity is challenging. Please be sure to dress in layers, as the canoe trip over may be a bit chilly.

Activities upon Request

Talk to a Naturalist well in advance if you are interested in these activities. If possible, they will try to accommodate you.

Gunflint History Tour

Come learn about the history of one of the oldest resorts on the Gunflint Trail. There will be some easy walking between historical sites.

Gunflint Lake History Presentation

This interesting activity surveys the human history of the area from 10,500 years ago to the present. We will talk about the various indigenous tribes, the fur trade, the mining and railroads, the logging, and the resort history of Gunflint Lake.

Introduction to Canoeing

This is an introduction to the basics of canoeing in which you will learn the Forward, J, Draw, and Sweep strokes. You will practice these things on the dock and then put your new knowledge to use out on Gunflint Lake.

Introduction to Kayaking

This introduction to kayaking includes the basic paddling strokes, proper entry and exit techniques, and more. We can also do a demonstration of the self-rescue and ‘T’ rescue if water temperature permits it.

Life of a Voyageur Presentation

The Voyageurs in the fur trade were like the truck drivers and truck engines of today. They were the fastest way to get trade goods into the interior, and furs back to Europe. Come to this activity and learn what the lives of these early adventurers were like well over a century ago.

Musical Jam Session

Bring your instruments and your voices to the Gunflint Nature Center for a good, old fashioned hootenanny. The musical selections will depend on who is present, and we will take turns leading the songs if you are interested in doing so. Otherwise, you can just join in on other people’s songs.