New, interactive exhibits installed in the visitor center at Gooseberry Falls State Park along the North Shore are designed to give people a better understanding of the park features, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
And a new mobile app, Gooseberry Falls Go, connects key elements in the exhibits to actual examples in the park.
A topographic map table visitors can touch helps them orient to the park. They can slide a lever to see how dramatically the color and volume of water in the waterfalls can change. And they can touch the rocks in the geology exhibit.
“The exhibit also highlights the Gooseberry River’s watershed, providing a sense of place and greater understanding the role watersheds play in our lives,” said Carolyn Rock, the park naturalist. “Once visitors have seen the exhibits, they can then continue learning out on the trails with the companion Gooseberry Falls Go app.”
Park staff expect the wolf diorama at the entrance to the exhibits to be a popular backdrop for selfies.
The app is available free from Apple and Android app stores. It uses a “GeoAlert” function to notify hikers with sound or vibration as they approach points of interest, such as rock formations and historic sites, along various routes within the park. For example:
- The 1-mile CCC Camp Route explores park history and has hikers imagine what life was like for the members of the Civilian Conservation Corps, who built the park between 1934 and 1941.
- The 2-mile Gitchi Gummi Route highlights the great views of Lake Superior and diverse habitats (i.e. for a nesting colony of gulls) on the park’s oldest trail.
- Shorter routes for kids include tree and rock identification activities.
- The Gooseberry Stroll route is wide, paved and accessible.
“Once you download the Gooseberry Falls Go app to your smart phone, you can take the interpretive route of your choice, and you can go at your own pace,” Rock said. “The app will help you notice things you might not otherwise have noticed, like a live naturalist would.”
The exhibits and the mobile app were made possible with funding from the Parks and Trails Fund, created after voters approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in November 2008. The Parks and Trails Fund receives 14.25 percent of the three-eighths percent sales tax revenue that may only be spent to support parks and trails of regional or statewide significance.
A $100,000 matching grant was provided by NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management for Minnesota’s Lake Superior Coastal Program. Minnesota’s Lake Superior Coastal Program is a voluntary federal-state partnership that directs federal dollars to fund local access, enhancement and protection projects along the inland coast of Lake Superior.
“We’re very grateful to NOAA for their generous support,” Rock said. “The Gooseberry Falls Go app and the new exhibits in the visitor center will give people who stop to see the falls a reason to stay and explore other parts of the park.”
For more information, visit www.mndnr.gov/gooseberry or contact the DNR Information Center by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 888-646-6367
(8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday).