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What’s This Rock? Unraveling the Geologic Story of Minnesota's North Shore

Course Overview

The cobbled beaches and rocky cliffs of the North Shore can inspire some serious geological curiosity: what’s this rock? Where did it come from? Why is it here? Well, lace up some sturdy footwear and head into the field to be immersed in the fascinating geology of the northern part of Minnesota's North Shore with UMD geology professor emeritus, Jim Miller. Using only your powers of observation, "What's This Rock" will focus on “reading” the rocks from Grand Portage to Grand Marais that tell part of the billion year-old​ geological story of the Lake Superior area--a tale that can be best characterized as one of Fire and Ice. ​After an introductory presentation on ​Friday night, the class will travel to the Canadian border on Saturday morning and visit classic North Shore exposures on the way back to Grand Marais. The day-long trip will visit roadcuts and shoreline exposures that illustrate the volcanic and glacial history of the northernmost part of Minnesota's North Shore. Sunday morning will start out with a hike up the Cascade River, followed by viewing roadcuts of the gemstone Thomsonite, and then rock-hounding on the shore of Lake Superior in Grand Marais. After this excursion, you’ll never see the North Shore the same way again.

This course is part of the Northern Landscapes Festival. Evening programs on northern ecology topics will be offered to the public at no charge on Friday and Saturday evenings. See the event page for more information.


Fri, May 29th, 2020  –  Sun, May 31st, 2020

Course Details

Length: 2½ Days
Skill Levels: Beginner to Advanced
Hours: Day 1:5-8pm, Day 2: 9am-5pm, Day 3: 9am-2pm
Intergenerational age: 10+
Registration Cost: $170.00 *
* Early-Bird rate in effect until Fri, Apr 17th, 2020

Required Tools

You will need the following tools for this class:

  • bag lunch for Days 2 & 3
  • appropriate outdoor clothing and footwear (sturdy!)
  • waterbottle
  • anything you need to be comfortable outdoors: sunscreen, bug nets, rain jacket, etc.

Optional Tools

Feel free to bring your favorite tools and whatever materials you might feel appropriate for this course.

More Information

Once registered, students will receive a confirmation email with further class information. Please call us if you haven't received it within 24 hours.

Begin Registration

North House is now requesting full payment at time of registration. Payment plans are available upon request — don't hesitate to contact us at 218-387-9762 if you need to arrange one.

* Early-Bird rate in effect until Fri, Apr 17th, 2020
Registration Cost:
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Cancellation Policy

If North House must cancel a course, students will receive a full refund of any payments made for that course.

Students who cancel their enrollment more than 21 days prior to the course will receive a refund less a $50 cancellation fee to cover administrative costs. In recognition of the time and energy instructors invest in preparing for courses, students who cancel their enrollment 21 days or less prior to the course are not eligible for a refund.

Certain classes have different cancellation policies. When this is the case, it will be noted in the Course Overview on this page. Please be sure that you are familiar with your class's cancellation policy, and contact us if you have any questions.