Gneiss Outcrops SNA






Minnesota DNR logo




Minnesota DNR




















Detail map (MN DNR)


Printable Map(s) with GPS coordinates

  Printable map      



241 acres




There are two deisgnated parking areas on the Minnesota DNR Website. The one on Cty Rd 40 is on the narrow shoulder at a curve in a narrow road. The second one is the north shoulder of 170th St. 0.1 mile west of Cty Rd 40.

County Road 40
N44 46.628, W95 29.980

A safer parking spot, not on the DNR map, is a pull off on the north side of 170th St. 0.37 miles west of Cty Rd 40.

170th St. pull-off
N44 46.461, W95 30.357


Driving Directions

  Area and County  

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          Chippewa County  
          Southwest Minnesota  

Hiking Trails


No maintained trails




No hunting


Ecological Classification

  Ecological Classification  
  Ecological Province    

Prairie Parkland Province

  Ecological Section    

North Central Glaciated Plains

  Ecological Subsection    

Minnesota River Prairie

  Land Type Association    

Bunde Till Plain

Milan Alluvial Plain


Native Plant Communities*


Crystalline Bedrock Outcrop (Prairie): Minnesota River Subtype

  * Source: The Minnesota Biological Survey, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Division of Ecological Resources      

Natural Features







Waterproof footwear recommended

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. Waterproof footwear is recommended.

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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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Other Videos
  Gneiss Outcrops Scientific and Natural Area Virtual Hike
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Apr 2, 2020

Gneiss Outcrops SNA, located along the Minnesota River, contains some of the oldest known rock on the Earth’s surface. In early July, you can find cactus blooming between lichen covered rocks. Find a rock to rest on and look out across a lake at this little world. Gneiss Outcrops was established as a Scientific and Natural Area on June 13, 1996.




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Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas Amphibians and Reptiles List

  boreal chorus frog (Pseudacris maculata)   boreal chorus frog  



Four bird species with conservation status in Minnesota have been seen here:

Special Concern

American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)

Lark Sparrow (Chondestes grammacus)

Purple Martin (Progne subis)

Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)


Minnesota DNR Bird checklist

eBird Field Checklist


American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)

American Robin (Turdus migratorius)

American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)

Blue-winged Teal (Spatula 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


Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas Lichens List


Black Knot (Apiosporina morbosa)

Crown Rust (Puccinia coronata)

  Black Knot  

Insects and Arachnids


American lady (Vanessa virginiensis)

cabbage white (Pieris rapae)

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)

plum finger gall mite (Eriophyes emarginatae)

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 and Minnesota Biological Survey Vegetation Releves 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 (Anemonastrum canadense)

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 lambsquarters (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 ssp. 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)

Lewis flax (Linum lewisii)

marijuana (Cannabis sativa var. 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)

sessile-leaf bellwort (Uvularia sessilifolia)

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

smooth sumac (Rhus glabra)

Tatarian 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)

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)

Anemonastrum canadense (Canada anemone)

Apocynum cannabinum (Indian hemp)

Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed)

Cannabis sativa var. sativa (marijuana)

Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)

Celtis occidentalis (northern hackberry)

Chenopodium album (common lambsquarters)

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 ssp. 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 lewisii (Lewis flax)

Lithospermum incisum (fringed puccoon)

Lonicera morrowii (Morrow’s honeysuckle)

Lonicera tatarica (Tatarian 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 (sessile-leaf bellwort)

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


Lewis flax

Missouri gooseberry

northern bedstraw

northern prickly ash

violet wood sorrel

Virginia waterleaf





Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas Amphibians and Reptiles List


common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina)

plains garter snake (Thamnophis radix)

  common snapping turtle  






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