Well, there was water here at one time, but that time was long ago.

The lake that used to be in the northwestern area of Minnesota was Glacial Lake Agassiz, and it began draining roughly 8,500 years ago. That draining process left behind a scattering of relic lakes and distinctive landforms. You can see what was left behind at Agassiz Dunes Scientific and Natural Area in Fertile, Minnesota.

According to the DNR website, Glacial Lake Agassiz had more surface area than all the Great Lakes combined.

The site's hallmark feature is its dunefield, comprised of sediments that originally accumulated here as a delta where the Sand River entered Lake Agassiz. Sculpted by wind over centuries, the landscape remains a work in progress, with fossil dunes, younger secondary dunes and modern blowouts.

The sand left behind from this old lake looks and feels just like any other beach sand in Minnesota. According to someone who visited, it is soft and shifts beneath your feet just like it would while walking across a beach.

This SNA has no maintained trails or recreational facilities. Scientific and Natural areas are intended for solitude and uncommon experiences. The Agassiz Dunes SNA makes up 336 acres of land, and since there are no true trails be sure to have a compass or GPS to avoid getting lost. Keep in mind the DNR doesn't have staff on duty in these areas.

Fertile is about a 3-hour drive from the St. Cloud area, and is part of the Grand Forks ND-MN Metropolitan Statistical Area. In addition to this SNA, it is also where the Polk County Fair is held every year.

Enter your number to get our free mobile app