Dayton's Bluff: Indian Mounds Park

Indian Mounds Park is named for the six burial mounds that are believed to have been made more than a thousand years ago. The first land parcels for the 17-acre park were purchased by the city in 1892 and added to for over a century. Its trails, picnic and recreation areas, and breathtaking views attract people from around the region.

This tour takes you from the western entry into the park to the municipal forest on the east. If you plan to ride or walk through the whole site, the western entrance of Indian Mounds Park is a good place to begin. There is a parking lot at Plum and Mounds Boulevard if you came by car. Start up on the sidewalk or take the walking trails and you will come to the tour locations in linear order as you go up the hill.

In the 1990’s, the State Legislature gave Saint Paul money to restore the prairie ecosystem in two areas of Indian Mounds Park. They are on either side of the boulevard as you walk up the hill. It is one of the few places in Saint Paul where you can catch a glimpse of what the original oak savannah landscape looked like. It is still a work in progress, as it can take many years of tending, including controlled burnings, to re-establish a natural setting.

If you continue all the way to the end of Indian Mounds Park at Highway 61, it will be around a two and a half mile journey.

Indian Mounds Park: A Short History

Some 12,000 years ago, groups of people followed the big game up the Mississippi River as the glaciers melted. If they happened to stop in what is today’s Indian Mounds Park they must have been awed by the panorama. There was a huge waterfall that…

Carver's Cave Overlook

The Carver’s Cave overlook at the western end of Indian Mounds Park is known for its vista and is one of the most photographed river scenes in the metro area. The overlook was rebuilt in 1995-96, including some low decorative walls, ornamental…

The Park Rocks!

On October 16, 2006, two new sculptures were officially dedicated in Indian Mounds Park. They were part of the Minnesota Rocks! International Stone Carving Symposium. It was a Public Art Saint Paul program which brought sculptors from around the…

Beacon on the Bluff

Air travel was changing from a novelty to a serious form of transportation by the 1920’s. The federal government supported this new industry by paying to have planes deliver mail. Over 600 airway beacons were constructed by the post Office and the…

The Prairie Style Park Pavilion

In 1900, because of large attendance in the park, a small refreshment pavilion was built at Earl Street. It was sometimes used for concerts. Unfortunately, it was burned down the next year “evidently the work of vandalism.” The current pavilion…

What is Known About the Indian Mounds?

Today, there are six remaining Indian Mounds found on both sides of the current pavilion. At one time there were thirty nine, found in two separate areas along the bluff, but they were destroyed by early farming, houses and park development. These…

Scenic Overlook

Just beyond the easternmost Indian Mound, there is a scenic outlook that gives a nice view of Mississippi River below. In 1954 The Geological Society of Minnesota and the city of Saint Paul placed a plaque on a limestone structure that gives a brief…

WPA Limestone Walls

One of the remaining walls runs from the scenic overlook and heads west along the bluff line behind the Indian Mounds. The second of the WPA work is a more dramatic curved limestone wall that follows the turn of Mounds Boulevard as it leaves the…

We Have a Municipal Forest

The Saint Paul Municipal Forest is located at the eastern edge of Indian Mounds Park. Most people in the city and even in Dayton’s Bluff know that it exists as a separate entity. The twenty-five acre site is located along Burns Avenue and is…

Past Matron's Grove

Inside of the municipal forest is an almost forgotten historical remnant. Its first mention appeared in the St. Paul Park Department records at the turn of the last century: “The grove will be known as the Past Matrons Grove of the Order of…