Gneiss Outcrops SNA

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Area and County

Chippewa County





241 acres

Printable map

Printable Map with GPS coordinates


Cty Rd 40: N44 46.628, W95 29.980

170th St.: N44 46.461, W95 30.357

Hiking Trails

No maintained trails


No hunting

Ecological Classification


Prairie Parkland Province

Ecological Classification


North Central Glaciated Plains


Minnesota River Prairie

Land Type Association(s)

Bunde Till Plain

Milan Alluvial Plain

Native Plant Communities1

Crystalline Bedrock Outcrop (Prairie): Minnesota River Subtype

Ownership Minnesota DNR logo        

Minnesota DNR


The parking area shown on the DNR Website is on the narrow shoulder at a curve in a narrow road (Cty Rd 40). A safer parking spot is a pull off on the north side of 170th St. 0.37 miles west of Cty Rd 40.

Wet Site
In a wet season, such as the spring of 2012, most of the site that is under 900 feet in altitude (see topographic map above) is under water. From the parking spot only a small portion of the SNA is accessible. The remainder of the site can be accessed from the terraced meadow at the eastern edge of the SNA.






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DNR Parking Recommendation (Cty Rd 40)

  Gneiss Outcrops SNA     Parking Recommendation (170th St.)

  Gneiss Outcrops SNA    

Wood Routed Sign

  Gneiss Outcrops SNA    


  Gneiss Outcrops SNA   Gneiss Outcrops SNA
  Gneiss Outcrops SNA   Gneiss Outcrops SNA


  Gneiss Outcrops SNA   Gneiss Outcrops SNA





  Gneiss Outcrops
Joshua Mayer
  Gneiss Outcrops  
  Gneiss Outcrops SNA
  Gneiss Outcrops SNA  

The Gneiss Outcrops, formed approximately 3.6 billion years ago, are among the oldest known rock on the earth's surface. This SNA's significance steadily increases as other outcrops along the Minnesota River are exploited for granite mining, housing, and recreational use. These pyramidal outcrops along the Glacial River Warren Valley rise to about 50 feet above the general level of the land, revealing parallel bands of gneiss.





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Mike Lynch

I stopped by Gneiss Outcrops SNA on my way home from western Minnesota. The DNR did a huge cedar and buckthorn cut on most of the outcrops I could see with huge piles of slash in the nearby meadow. I look forward to seeing the bedrock plant communities recovering and hope they do a burn there soon.

From my brief visit, I saw some nice flowering Fame Flowers and prickly pears on some of the better bits of rock. Observations



boreal chorus frog (Pseudacris maculata)



Four amphibian species with conservation status in Minnesota and one tracked species have been seen here:


Special concern

American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)

Lark Sparrow (Chondestes grammacus)

Purple Martin (Progne subis)

Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)



Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)


Minnesota DNR Bird checklist


American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)

American Robin (Turdus migratorius)

American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)

Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors)

Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater)

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)

Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis)

Gray Partridge (Perdix perdix)

House Wren (Troglodytes aedon)

Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)

Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)

Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus)

Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)

Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus)

Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo)

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius)

American Robin

Brown-headed Cowbird

Canada Goose

Mourning Dove

Wild Turkey

Fungi and Lichens

Black Knot (Apiosporina morbosa)

Crown Rust (Puccinia coronata)

Black Knot

Insects and Arachnids

American lady (Vanessa virginiensis)

cabbage white (Pieris rapae)

chokecherry finger gall mite (Eriophyes emarginatae)

common green darner (Anax junius)

eastern tent caterpillar moth (Malacosoma americanum)

goldenrod bunch gall midge (Rhopalomyia solidaginis)

goldenrod gall fly (Eurosta solidaginis)

monarch (Danaus plexippus)

mourning cloak (Nymphalis antiopa)

red admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

white-lined sphinx (Hyles lineata)

American lady

common green darner

white-lined sphinx


American red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus)

eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus)

whitetail deer (Odocoileus virginianus)

eastern cottontail


Three plant species with conservation status in Minnesota are found here:


Special concern

Missouri milkvetch (Astragalus missouriensis var. missouriensis)

Oregon woodsia (Woodsia oregana ssp. cathcartiana)

plains prickly pear (Opuntia macrorhiza)


Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas Plant List


Plants frequently found in:

Crystalline Bedrock Outcrop (Prairie): Minnesota River Subtype ROs12a1



alfalfa (Medicago sativa ssp. sativa)

American elm (Ulmus americana)

American red raspberry (Rubus idaeus ssp. strigosus)

American vetch (Vicia americana ssp. americana)

Aunt Lucy (Ellisia nyctelea)

black bindweed (Fallopia convolvulus)

black-seeded plantain (Plantago rugelii var. rugelii)

boxelder (Acer negundo var. negundo)

bracted spiderwort (Tradescantia bracteata)

brittle prickly pear (Opuntia fragilis)

bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa var. macrocarpa)

Canada anemone (Anemone canadensis)

Canada moonseed (Menispermum canadense)

Canadian woodnettle (Laportea canadensis)

catnip (Nepeta cataria)

chokecherry (Prunus virginiana var. virginiana)

cleavers (Galium aparine)

common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica)

common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale ssp. officinale)

common flax (Linum usitatissimum)

common lamb’s-quarters (Chenopodium album)

common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

common motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca ssp. cardiaca)

common mullein (Verbascum thapsus ssp. thapsus)

common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia)

dame’s rocket (Hesperis matronalis)

early buttercup (Ranunculus fascicularis)

eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana var. virginiana)

fringed puccoon (Lithospermum incisum)

giant chickweed (Myosoton aquaticum)

green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica)

green carpetweed (Mollugo verticillata)

ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea)

hoary vervain (Verbena stricta)

Indian hemp (Apocynum cannabinum)

kidney-leaved buttercup (Ranunculus abortivus)

late goldenrod (Solidago altissima)

leadplant (Amorpha canescens)

marijuana (Cannabis sativa)

Missouri gooseberry (Ribes missouriense)

Morrow’s honeysuckle (Lonicera morrowii)

narrow-leaved cattail (Typha angustifolia)

northern bedstraw (Galium boreale)

northern hackberry (Celtis occidentalis)

northern prickly ash (Zanthoxylum americanum)

Pennsylvania sedge (Carex pensylvanica)

plains prickly pear (Opuntia macrorhiza)

prairie blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium campestre)

quackgrass (Elymus repens)

quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides)

red clover (Trifolium pratense)

rough false pennyroyal (Hedeoma hispida)

smooth Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum biflorum var. commutatum)

smooth sumac (Rhus glabra)

Tartarian honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica)

upright carrionflower (Smilax ecirrhata)

violet wood sorrel (Oxalis violacea)

Virginia waterleaf (Hydrophyllum virginianum var. virginianum)

western ragweed (Ambrosia psilostachya)

wild grape (Vitis riparia)

wild oats (Uvularia sessilifolia)

wolfberry (Symphoricarpos occidentalis)

woodbine (Parthenocissus vitacea)

woodland whitlowgrass (Draba nemorosa)


Acer negundo var. negundo (boxelder)

Ambrosia artemisiifolia (common ragweed)

Ambrosia psilostachya (western ragweed)

Amorpha canescens (leadplant)

Anemone canadensis (Canada anemone)

Apocynum cannabinum (Indian hemp)

Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed)

Cannabis sativa (marijuana)

Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)

Celtis occidentalis (northern hackberry)

Chenopodium album (common lamb’s-quarters)

Draba nemorosa (woodland whitlowgrass)

Ellisia nyctelea (Aunt Lucy)

Elymus repens (quackgrass)

Fallopia convolvulus (black bindweed)

Fraxinus pennsylvanica (green ash)

Galium aparine (cleavers)

Galium boreale (northern bedstraw)

Glechoma hederacea (ground ivy)

Hedeoma hispida (rough false pennyroyal)

Hesperis matronalis (dame’s rocket)

Hydrophyllum virginianum var. virginianum (Virginia waterleaf)

Juniperus virginiana var. virginiana (eastern redcedar)

Laportea canadensis (Canadian woodnettle)

Leonurus cardiaca ssp. cardiaca (common motherwort)

Linum usitatissimum (common flax)

Lithospermum incisum (fringed puccoon)

Lonicera morrowii (Morrow’s honeysuckle)

Lonicera tatarica (Tartarian honeysuckle)

Medicago sativa ssp. sativa (alfalfa)

Menispermum canadense (Canada moonseed)

Mollugo verticillata (green carpetweed)

Myosoton aquaticum (giant chickweed)

Nepeta cataria (catnip)

Opuntia fragilis (brittle prickly pear)

Opuntia macrorhiza (plains prickly pear)

Oxalis violacea (violet wood sorrel)

Parthenocissus vitacea (woodbine)

Plantago rugelii var. rugelii (black-seeded plantain)

Polygonatum biflorum var. commutatum (smooth Solomon’s seal)

Populus tremuloides (quaking aspen)

Prunus virginiana var. virginiana (chokecherry)

Quercus macrocarpa var. macrocarpa (bur oak)

Ranunculus abortivus (kidney-leaved buttercup)

Ranunculus fascicularis (early buttercup)

Rhamnus cathartica (common buckthorn)

Rhus glabra (smooth sumac)

Ribes missouriense (Missouri gooseberry)

Rubus idaeus ssp. strigosus (American red raspberry)

Sisyrinchium campestre (prairie blue-eyed grass)

Smilax ecirrhata (upright carrionflower)

Solidago altissima (late goldenrod)

Symphoricarpos occidentalis (wolfberry)

Taraxacum officinale ssp. officinale (common dandelion)

Tradescantia bracteata (bracted spiderwort)

Trifolium pratense (red clover)

Typha angustifolia (narrow-leaved cattail)

Ulmus americana (American elm)

Uvularia sessilifolia (wild oats)

Verbascum thapsus ssp. thapsus (common mullein)

Verbena stricta (hoary vervain)

Vicia americana ssp. americana (American vetch)

Vitis riparia (wild grape)

Zanthoxylum americanum (northern prickly ash)

American vetch (var. americana)

black bindweed

bracted spiderwort

brittle prickly pear



common mullein

giant chickweed

hoary vervain


Missouri gooseberry

Morrow’s honeysuckle

northern bedstraw

northern prickly ash

violet wood sorrel

Virginia waterleaf



One tracked reptile species has been seen here:



common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina)


common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina)

plains garter snake (Thamnophis radix)

common snapping turtle




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