Frenchman’s Bluff SNA





The Nature Conservancy logo Minnesota DNR logo


Minnesota DNR

The Nature Conservancy



The Nature Conservancy owns the land at Frenchman’s Bluff and leases it back to the Minnesota DNR. The site is 50 acres of glacial moraine overlooking the Red River Valley/Glacial Lake Agassiz basin. It includes an abandoned quarry near the parking area. There is a 5½ acre section of bur oak - aspen forest at the northeast corner. The understory in this section includes a dense shrub layer. While not impenetrable, passage through this area is difficult at best. There is another, smaller forested section south of the quarry. The rest of the preserve is dry sand - gravel prairie and mesic prairie.












50.45 acres


Driving Directions

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  Area and County
    County   Norman County
    Region   Northwest Minnesota


There is a parking lot with room for several vehicles on the west side of County Road 36 at the southeast corner of the SNA.

N47 11.687, W96 10.405





Printable Map(s) with GPS coordinates

Printable map    



Nature photography

Cross country skiing




There are no maintained trails.

A well-worn footpath leads a short distance from the parking area to the north rim of the gravel pit and then disappears. There are no other trails.


Hunting and Fishing



Ecological Classification

  Ecological Classification
Ecological Province Ecological Province   Prairie Parkland Province  
Ecological Section Ecological Section   Red River Valley  
Ecological Subsection Ecological Subsection   Red River Prairie  
Land Type Association     Flom Till Plain  

Native Plant Communities*


Bur Oak - Aspen Forest

Dry Sand - Gravel Prairie (Northern)

Mesic Prairie (Northern)

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

Natural Features







Visitor Photos

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Dan W. Andree

Frenchman’s Bluff SNA prescribed burn area regrowth...

Frenchman’s Bluff SNA   Frenchman’s Bluff SNA

… a prescribed burn they did this Spring at Frenchman’s Bluff SNA. That section needed it. So was good they did it and we have had some rains recently. That photo was taken on May 14, 2023. The burn was done some time around May 10, 2023. …

It will be interesting to see how it grows. I could just barely see grass and plant sprouts poking through the burn that day. But I haven’t been out there since. I will check it out eventually one day and see.

  … it is regrowing nicely and should do well long as it gets normal rains in that region.
Frenchman’s Bluff SNA   Frenchman’s Bluff SNA

Prairie Flowers


A big change this season from last seasons heat and drought.

Frenchman’s Bluff SNA    

“Prairie flowers in bloom at Frenchman’s Bluff SNA”



Frenchman’s Bluff SNA   Frenchman’s Bluff SNA

Frenchman’s Bluff ...Sept. 30, 2021

Took this today on a hike on the preserve. Looked nice so had to photograph it. Fall season can be short.


Frenchman’s Bluff top of the hill view...

Sept. 30, 2021 up on the big hill at Frenchman’s Bluff SNA.

Frenchman’s Bluff SNA   Frenchman’s Bluff SNA

Frenchman’s Bluff non-burned area and prescribed burn....

areas. Late June 2021.

Frenchman’s Bluff SNA   Frenchman’s Bluff SNA
I took a hike this afternoon at Frenchman’s Bluff SNA though still snow covered for the most part but melting at the same time with the milder temperature and on and off sunlight. A beautiful day.   Another view looking up the bluff or big hill Photos
Frenchman’s Bluff SNA   Frenchman’s Bluff SNA


Frenchman’s Bluff SNA   Frenchman’s Bluff SNA


  Wood routed sign
Frenchman’s Bluff SNA   Frenchman’s Bluff SNA


Frenchman’s Bluff SNA   Frenchman’s Bluff SNA


  Bur Oak - Aspen Forest
Frenchman’s Bluff SNA   Frenchman’s Bluff SNA

Mesic Prairie (Northern)

Frenchman’s Bluff SNA   Frenchman’s Bluff SNA

Dry Sand - Gravel Prairie (Northern)

  View from the Bluff








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Visitor Sightings

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Dan W. Andree

Fungi and Lichens

Curtis’s Puffball (Lycoperdon curtisii)   Curtis’s Puffball

Insects and Arachnids

bearded bee fly (Anastoechus barbatus)

bumble bees (Bombus spp.)

common checkered-skipper (Pyrgus communis)

coral hairstreak (Satyrium titus)

cuckoo bee (Triepeolus spp.)

giant robber fly (Promachus vertebratus)

ligated furrow bee (Halictus ligatus)

Milbert’s tortoiseshell (Aglais milberti)

monarch (Danaus plexippus)

northern crab spider (Mecaphesa asperata)

northern flower moth (Schinia septentrionalis)

orange sulphur (Colias eurytheme)

painted lady (Vanessa cardui)

plains clubtail (Gomphurus externus)

pure green sweat bee (Augochlora pura)

regal fritillary (Argynnis idalia)

swift crab spider (Mecaphesa celer)

variegated fritillary (Euptoieta claudia)


bumble bee (Bombus sp.)

common checkered-skipper

coral hairstreak

ligated furrow bee


American pasqueflower (Anemone patens var. multifida)

blanket flower (Gaillardia aristata)

clammy groundcherry (Physalis heterophylla)

heart-leaved four o’clock (Mirabilis nyctaginea)

northern small yellow lady’s slipper (Cypripedium parviflorum var. makasin)

prairie onion (Allium stellatum)

smooth sumac (Rhus glabra)

staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina)

western poison ivy (Toxicodendron rydbergii)

wood lily (Lilium philadelphicum var. andinum)


American pasqueflower

clammy groundcherry Sightings





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

Special Concern

Greater Prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus cupido)

Lark Sparrow (Chondestes grammacus)

Minnesota DNR Bird checklist

eBird Field Checklist

American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)

Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)

Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum)

Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)

Clay-colored Sparrow (Spizella pallida)

Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus)

Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis)

Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)

Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia)


American Goldfinch

Blue Jay

Brown Thrasher

Fungi and Lichens

Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas Fungus List

Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas Lichen List

Black Knot (Apiosporina morbosa)


  Black Knot

Insects and Arachnids

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


Dakota skipper (Hesperia dacotae)

Poweshiek skipperling (Oarisma poweshiek)

Special Concern

Pawnee skipper (Hesperia leonardus pawnee)

Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas Insects List

common wood nymph (Cercyonis pegala)

dog day cicada (Neotibicen canicularis)

goldenrod gall fly (Eurosta solidaginis)

  dog day cicada


One mammal species with conservation status in Minnesota has been seen here:

Special Concern

northern grasshopper mouse (Onychomys leucogaster)

Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas Mammals List

plains pocket gopher (Geomys bursarius)   plains pocket gopher


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


Frenchman’s Bluff moonwort (Botrychium gallicomontanum)

Special Concern

blanket flower (Gaillardia aristata)

plains reed grass (Calamagrostis montanensis)

prairie moonwort (Botrychium campestre)

spikeoat (Avenula hookeri)

Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas and Minnesota Biological Survey Vegetation Releves Plant List

Plants frequently found in:

Bur Oak - Aspen Forest FDs36a

Dry Sand - Gravel Prairie (Northern) UPn12b

Mesic Prairie (Northern) UPn23b



alfalfa (Medicago sativa ssp. sativa)

American hazelnut (Corylus americana)

American red raspberry (Rubus idaeus ssp. strigosus)

balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera)

big bluestem (Andropogon gerardi)

bigfruit hawthorn (Crataegus macrosperma)

bird’s-foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus var. corniculatus)

black medick (Medicago lupulina)

bland sweet cicely (Osmorhiza claytonii)

blue giant hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)

boxelder (Acer negundo var. negundo)

bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa var. macrocarpa)

candle anemone (Anemone cylindrica)

chicory (Cichorium intybus)

chokecherry (Prunus virginiana var. virginiana)

common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica)

common burdock (Arctium minus)

common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia)

common yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

crown vetch (Securigera varia)

Culver’s root (Veronicastrum virginicum)

dotted blazing star (Liatris punctata var. punctata)

eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana var. virginiana)

field sagewort (Artemisia campestris ssp. caudata)

Flodman’s thistle (Cirsium flodmanii)

fragrant bedstraw (Galium triflorum)

giant goldenrod (Solidago gigantea)

Great Lakes sand cherry (Prunus pumila var. pumila)

green foxtail (Setaria viridis var. viridis)

grooved yellow flax (Linum sulcatum var. sulcatum)

hairy false goldenaster (Heterotheca villosa)

hairy four o’clock (Mirabilis albida)

harebell (Campanula rotundifolia)

hedge bindweed (Calystegia sepium)

leadplant (Amorpha canescens)

little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)

mint-leaved bergamot (Monarda fistulosa var. menthifolia)

narrow-leaved hawkweed (Hieracium umbellatum)

narrow-leaved meadowsweet (Spiraea alba var. alba)

narrow-leaved purple coneflower (Echinacea angustifolia)

northern bedstraw (Galium boreale)

Nuttall’s evening primrose (Oenothera nuttallii)

Nuttall’s little rose (Chamaerhodos erecta)

pale agoseris (Agoseris glauca var. glauca)

Pennsylvania cinquefoil (Potentilla pensylvanica)

pineapple-weed (Matricaria discoidea)

plains cottonwood (Populus deltoides ssp. molinifera)

plumeless thistle (Carduus acanthoides ssp. acanthoides)

prairie alumroot (Heuchera richardsonii)

prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis)

prairie fleabane (Erigeron strigosus)

prairie larkspur (Delphinium carolinianum ssp. virescens)

prairie onion (Allium stellatum)

prairie peppergrass (Lepidium densiflorum)

prairie rose (Rosa arkansana)

prairie sagewort (Artemisia frigida)

prairie smoke (Geum triflorum var. triflorum)

purple lovegrass (Eragrostis spectabilis)

purple meadow-rue (Thalictrum dasycarpum)

purple prairie clover (Dalea purpurea var. purpurea)

quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides)

rough blazing star (Liatris aspera)

rush skeletonplant (Lygodesmia juncea)

showy goldenrod (Solidago speciosa)

showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa)

Siberian elm (Ulmus pumila)

sideoats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula var. curtipendula)

smooth scouring rush (Equisetum laevigatum)

smooth sumac (Rhus glabra)

spreading dogbane (Apocynum androsaemifolium)

stiff goldenrod (Solidago rigida ssp. rigida)

stiff sunflower (Helianthus pauciflorus ssp. subrhomboideus)

tall cinquefoil (Drymocallis arguta)

tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus)

Tatarian honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica)

upright carrionflower (Smilax ecirrhata)

western marbleseed (Lithospermum occidentale)

western ragweed (Ambrosia psilostachya)

white prairie clover (Dalea candida var. candida)

white sage (Artemisia ludoviciana ssp. ludoviciana)

white sweet clover (Melilotus albus)

wild grape (Vitis riparia)

wolfberry (Symphoricarpos occidentalis)

woodbine (Parthenocissus vitacea)

yellow goat’s beard (Tragopogon dubius)

yellow sweet clover (Melilotus officinalis)


Acer negundo var. negundo (boxelder)

Achillea millefolium (common yarrow)

Agastache foeniculum (blue giant hyssop)

Agoseris glauca var. glauca (pale agoseris)

Allium stellatum (prairie onion)

Ambrosia artemisiifolia (common ragweed)

Ambrosia psilostachya (western ragweed)

Amorpha canescens (leadplant)

Andropogon gerardi (big bluestem)

Anemone cylindrica (candle anemone)

Apocynum androsaemifolium (spreading dogbane)

Arctium minus (common burdock)

Artemisia campestris ssp. caudata (field sagewort)

Artemisia dracunculus (tarragon)

Artemisia frigida (prairie sagewort)

Artemisia ludoviciana ssp. ludoviciana (white sage)

Asclepias speciosa (showy milkweed)

Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed)

Bouteloua curtipendula var. curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Calystegia sepium (hedge bindweed)

Campanula rotundifolia (harebell)

Carduus acanthoides (plumeless thistle)

Chamaerhodos erecta (Nuttall’s little rose)

Cichorium intybus (chicory)

Cirsium flodmanii (Flodman’s thistle)

Corylus americana (American hazelnut)

Crataegus macrosperma (bigfruit hawthorn)

Dalea candida var. candida (white prairie clover)

Dalea purpurea var. purpurea (purple prairie clover)

Delphinium carolinianum ssp. virescens (prairie larkspur)

Drymocallis arguta (tall cinquefoil)

Echinacea angustifolia (narrow-leaved purple coneflower)

Equisetum laevigatum (smooth scouring rush)

Eragrostis spectabilis (purple lovegrass)

Erigeron strigosus (prairie fleabane)

Galium boreale (northern bedstraw)

Galium triflorum (fragrant bedstraw)

Geum triflorum var. triflorum (prairie smoke)

Helianthus pauciflorus ssp. subrhomboideus (stiff sunflower)

Heterotheca villosa (hairy false goldenaster)

Heuchera richardsonii (prairie alumroot)

Hieracium umbellatum (narrow-leaved hawkweed)

Juniperus virginiana var. virginiana (eastern redcedar)

Lepidium densiflorum (prairie peppergrass)

Liatris aspera (rough blazing star)

Liatris punctata var. punctata (dotted blazing star)

Linum sulcatum var. sulcatum (grooved yellow flax)

Lithospermum occidentale (western marbleseed)

Lonicera tatarica (Tatarian honeysuckle)

Lotus corniculatus var. corniculatus (bird’s-foot trefoil)

Lygodesmia juncea (rush skeletonplant)

Matricaria discoidea (pineapple-weed)

Medicago lupulina (black medick)

Medicago sativa ssp. sativa (alfalfa)

Melilotus albus (white sweet clover)

Melilotus officinalis (yellow sweet clover)

Mirabilis albida (hairy four o’clock)

Monarda fistulosa var. menthifolia (mint-leaved bergamot)

Oenothera nuttallii (Nuttall’s evening primrose)

Osmorhiza claytonii (bland sweet cicely)

Parthenocissus vitacea (woodbine)

Populus balsamifera (balsam poplar)

Populus deltoides ssp. molinifera (plains cottonwood)

Populus tremuloides (quaking aspen)

Potentilla pensylvanica (Pennsylvania cinquefoil)

Prunus pumila var. pumila (Great Lakes sand cherry)

Prunus virginiana var. virginiana (chokecherry)

Quercus macrocarpa var. macrocarpa (bur oak)

Rhamnus cathartica (common buckthorn)

Rhus glabra (smooth sumac)

Rosa arkansana (prairie rose)

Rubus idaeus ssp. strigosus (American red raspberry)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Securigera varia (crown vetch)

Setaria viridis var. viridis (green foxtail)

Smilax ecirrhata (upright carrionflower)

Solidago gigantea (giant goldenrod)

Solidago rigida ssp. rigida (stiff goldenrod)

Solidago speciosa (showy goldenrod)

Spiraea alba var. alba (narrow-leaved meadowsweet)

Sporobolus heterolepis (prairie dropseed)

Symphoricarpos occidentalis (wolfberry)

Thalictrum dasycarpum (purple meadow-rue)

Tragopogon dubius (yellow goat’s beard)

Ulmus pumila (Siberian elm)

Veronicastrum virginicum (Culver’s root)

Vitis riparia (wild grape)



American hazelnut

bur oak (var. macrocarpa)



Culver’s root

dotted blazing star

Flodman’s thistle



Nuttall’s evening primrose

prairie larkspur

prairie onion

prairie rose

prairie smoke

purple prairie clover

stiff sunflower (ssp. subrhomboideus)

tall cinquefoil

Tatarian honeysuckle

wild grape

yellow goat’s beard

yellow sweet clover



Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas Amphibians and Reptiles List

plains garter snake (Thamnophis radix)   plains garter snake






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