Lisa Brainard: Things get ‘deep’ on annual NTC tour – including cave

LISA BRAINARD/BLUFF COUNTRY READER Take the National Trout Center’s Geology Tour Oct. 12 to see Mystery Cave, on the regular tour and not this area where I sat while wild caving in 2011.

LISA BRAINARD/BLUFF COUNTRY READER Historic Forestville will be part of the National Trout Center Tour on Oct. 12, as well as many other areas of interest.
By : 
Lisa Brainard
Journey vs Destination

It’s time to get your good, autumn fill of geology – and I can’t wait!!

First up, there’s the Fall Geology Bus Tour offered by the National Trout Center of Preston (NTC) on Saturday, Oct. 12. It’s the annual fund-raising event of the NTC – and always a joy to ride in a nice bus, take in the scenery and stops, and learn about the Driftless Area’s geology. It’s really pretty fascinating and it ties into the reasons why we have great trout streams and want to keep our waters clean.

And then there’s professional geologist Jeff Broberg heading up the teaching. A member of the NTC Board, he keeps the educational aspect of the trip entertaining.

Mystery Cave

This year’s tour will take in Mystery Cave at Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park. It’s infinite fun to explore the world beneath our earth’s surface and take in the karst wonders firsthand. If you’ve been there before, you know that – and it’s time to go again. It’s really something to see! I personally love Turquoise Lake. It’s so amazing!

Here is more information from the park’s website on the Scenic Tour, one of a number of cave tours offered by the park:

“You'll see excellent examples of cave mineral deposits, along with the pools and long linear corridors that are typical for Mystery Cave and Turquoise Lake. Many formations are actively dripping. These features are illuminated with dramatic lighting that accents the cave in light and shadow. This stroller and wheelchair-accessible tour involves three-quarters of a mile of walking on modern paved trails and metal bridges.”

Of note, the last time I was in Mystery Cave, I was on the Scenic Tour – and also in a wheelchair. It was a thrill to get back in the cave, where I’d done a couple wild caving tours with the Minnesota Speleological Survey some years back.

Historic Forestville

While at the park, the NTC event also will stop at Historic Forestville, a Minnesota Historical Society site located there. I’ve appreciated seeing the costumed interpreters act out the village’s history and have taken many photos there over time. And guess what? The interpreters will be making apple pies on the wood-burning stove this day.

Its website gives a little background: “Historic Forestville was once the center of a thriving rural community until it fell into decline after the railroad passed it by in 1868. The historic town includes a fully-stocked general store, farm and homestead with original artifacts.”

NTC tour stops also will include fossil hunting. That’s always a blast – and really cool when you find a fossil of your very own.

NCT tour info

Saturday, Oct. 12, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Fall Geology Bus Tour. Enjoy fall colors, geology and history of southeast Minnesota with the National Trout Center's annual fundraising event! Hop on a coach bus as professional geologist Jeff Broberg, as well as some guest speakers, teach you about the interesting features of the Driftless Area. Stops include Mystery Cave, Historic Forestville, a fossil hunt and more! The tour will wrap up at the NTC’s new neighbor, Trout City Brewing. Sack lunch will be provided by The Sweet Stop and Sandwich Shoppe Tickets are $50 per person. Buy two tickets and get $10 off. Space is limited. Call 507-765-2452 or email to learn how to reserve your spot.

Yet more…

If you haven’t yet had your fill of the fascinating world of geology, take note. On Friday and Saturday, Oct. 18 and 19, Geology Fest Centennial Events will be held at Whitewater State Park, located north of Saint Charles. There are at least 11 special events scheduled over the two days. Check them all out now, as registration is required for a couple activities and a limited number will be accepted. Go to this page and make sure you have listings showing for October: State Park Events Calendar - Minnesota DNR:

Lisa Brainard still enjoys lifelong pursuits of the outdoors, history and travel as able following a serious accident and stroke in September 2012. She’s written this Journey vs. Destination column weekly for over 15 years.