The Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary is located east of downtown Saint Paul along the north shore of the Mississippi River. This site has been a sacred space for Native Americans, the site of the North Star Brewery and a rail-yard. Family-friendly activities at this park include hiking and biking the trails, birdwatching, photography, and nature watching all under the St. Paul Skyline. If your family is interested in geology, this is a site where you can get a look at Platteville limestone.
See our Family Fun Calendar for occasional events hosted at this location.
Birdwatching at Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary
This park is a favorite for birdwatching. According to the Minneapolis Park Foundation, its close proximity to the Mississippi and Phalen Creek and its undeveloped natural areas both make it ideal for finding birds. You'll need to pack your own gear. Check out our Birding Checklist for What to Pack when Bird Watching.
Native American History of the Park
This site was a important place for Native Americans. Carver's Cave was once Wakan Tipi (or Spirit House). This cave is located in the sandstone bluff on the north edge of the park. In 1766, controversial settler, Jonathan Carver, described the cave’s interior as having many incised figures cut into the soft stone. However, this was never corroborated by later visitors since sandstone is easily eroded. Wakan Tipi is currently barricaded to the public. However, the entrance is visible across a pond, and signage near the parking lot helps interpret the site.
Wakan Tipi Center Coming to Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary
Plans for a new Cultural and Environmental Interpretive Center within the sanctuary are in the preliminary design phase. The Wakaŋ Típi Center will break ground once funds are raised for the project. As of October 2020, fundraising was nearly to 70%. Stay tuned.
Restoration of Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary
The restoration of this 29 acre park includes the replanting of native plant communities to restore the degraded prairie and facilitating the return of wildlife. Birds are particularly attracted to this area. Look for waterfowl, grasslands birds, turkey vultures, bald eagles, and redtail hawks. A spring-fed stream runs through the property. There is currently no access to the river because of the railroads that run through, future restoration plans may include this connection. You can read more about that project and its complications here.