Rocks, Ridges, and Gold
Voyageurs National Park is one of the few places in North America where you can see and touch rocks half the age of the Earth.
The exposed rock you see all around you is the southern edge of the volcanic bedrock that forms the core of the continent and is from the birth of North America.
At one time, massive, explosive volcanoes deposited layer after layer of ash and lava. Subsequent uplifting, folding, tremendous pressure, and superheating created igneous and metamorphic rock.
Over time, erosion wore down the volcanic mountain range and the ice ages brought glaciers that moved rivers of ice and scoured away the younger rock layers.
This action exposed the roots of the ancient mountains- the granite, migmatite, and biotite schist you see today.
As the glaciers receded, torrents of melted water filled low-lying areas, creating the lakes and bogs of today's landscape.
Today, the oldest rock in the park tells a recent human story. Fault zones in exposed 2.8-billion-year-old greenstone revealed gold embedded in quartz veins.
The discovery sparked a short-lived gold rush and boomtown in the 1890's. Many of the newcomers stayed for good, and their descendents live in the region today.
To learn more about the park's geologic features purchase a copy of A Story Written in the Rocks at any of the three park visitor centers.
Last updated: March 8, 2023