Fall/Winter Naturalist Programs

View Naturalist John’s blog here!



Did you know that the little brown bat (one of the local species) can eat up to 1,600 mosquitoes per hour? How about that bananas, mangoes, and dates are pollinated by fruit bats? Come learn about these amazing flying mammals in this fascinating new presentation.

Celestial Legends

Come learn the legends of the stars and planets. We will cover stories from several cultures, and at the end, go out and see the constellations visible from the Gunflint Nature Center.

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 in our nearest Great Lake.

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.

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 severe weather events from the late 1800s to the present.

Northern Lights

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


Come learn about the basics of photography in this fascinating new presentation.  We will discuss such things as basic composition rules, wildlife and landscape photography, and how to capture the northern lights.


Did you know that spider silk, ounce for ounce, is actually stronger than steel?  How about that it is liquid when inside the spider?  Come to this interesting new program and learn about these very beneficial, yet highly misunderstood forms of life.

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.

Craft Projects

Branch Weaving

Make a unique wall hanging by weaving a design with colorful yarn between two branches.

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 tradition 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.

Introduction to Crocheting

Learn a basic crochet stitch and make your own washcloth or potholder.  Kids under age 15 must bring an adult helper.

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.

Watercolor Craft and Hike

Go on a hike to a beautiful place, paint a picture of it in your mind, and return to the Gunflint Nature Center to put your mind’s painting on paper with watercolors.

Wreath Making

Come make your own wreath to hang on your door this holiday season.  Participants in this activity work together to clip the branches, clump them together, wire them onto the frames (with our machine), and decorate with ribbons.  Due to the pandemic, only one cabin will be allowed in at a time with a maximum of 6 participants.


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.

Christmas Carol Sing Along

Sing some traditional Christmas carols with John. Listeners are also welcome.

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 Music Show – New!

Old-Time Music is the style used in the first few decades of Country Music.  It is focused on string music and vocals that come straight from the soul. This show will be featuring the fiddle, mandolin, guitar, banjo, mountain dulcimer, and baritone ukulele with playing and vocals by John the Naturalist.

Old-Time Gospel Music Show

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


Boreal Birding Hike

Jay! Jay! Jay! Yank. Yank. Yank. Chickadee dee dee dee dee. These songs come from the blue jay, red-breasted nuthatch, and the black-capped chickadee. Come on the Boreal Birding hike to learn about these birds and many more.

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.

Ravens and their Relatives Presentation

Come learn about one of the smartest of all birds, the northern raven.  We will also learn about some of the raven’s relatives, including: the American crow, Canada jay, and blue jay.

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.

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.


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

Many have asked, “Are there wild edibles in the winter?”  The answer is a resounding “yes.”  Come on this easy hike and learn about how to make pine needle tea, flour from cattails, harvest tree bark, and much more.

Winter Wilderness Survival Presentation and Hike

Come learn a basic survival method for surviving unplanned wilderness time. This important information could save your life someday.

Night Hikes

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. Be sure to bundle up to stay warm.

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.

Things to Know about Night Hikes

  • Dress in warm layers. If there is any wind, make sure everything is covered. Remember, it is colder when the sun goes down.
  • Wear warm boots with good traction.
  • If you want or need snowshoes, they must be picked up at the Outfitter’s rental shop prior to 4:00 PM.
  • Leave your white lights in your cabin; red lights are fine to bring along. White lights wreck night vision, red lights do not.
  • Hiking in the forest at night is an amazing experience that you will never forget!

Nordic Skiing Excursions

Introduction to Nordic Skiing Lesson

Learn the basics of Nordic Skiing which will get you off to a great start on a lifetime of winter fitness and joy.

Night Ski

Our night ski will be around the moderately difficult Little Pine Lit Ski Trail.  If you need to rent skis, please come to the Outfitters well before 3:00 PM.

Activities upon Request

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

Dragonfly Presentation

Come learn about the first forms of life to take to the skies on Earth.

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.

Sing Along

Join John for a good, old-fashioned sing along.