Gitchie Manitou State Preserve is rich in geology, history, and archaeology and is known for its distinctive, smooth, pink outcroppings of Sioux Quartzite. The bedrock in the outcropping is 1.6 billion years old, and is the oldest surface bedrock anywhere in the state. The quartzite on the preserve was mined until the 1920s, and the quarry is now filled with water and knows as "Jasper Pool." The preserve is home to archaeological sites including 17 conical mounds and numerous Woodland or Great Oasis habituation areas. Also evidence of local history is present on the preserve, with the county's first post office and land office on the north side of the as part of a short lived settlement called Gibraltar in the 1880s. The building's foundation can still be seen. There are more than 300 plant species on the preserve, with more than 130 growing on the prairie, like a range of prairie grasses such as leadplant and blue grama. Springtime welcomes wildflowers such as pasqueflower and hoary puccoon before summertime brings forbs like purple prairie clovers. The last flowers of the fall include aromatic aster and dotted gayfeather. Other plant communities thrive in the preserve's woodlands, wetlands, grasslands and a narrow floodplain. Visitors to the preserve are allowed to hunt.
Originally, the area containing Gitchie Manitou State Preseve was classified as a state park, but became a geological, archaeological, historical and biological state preserve in 1969.
Fees, permits, and reservations may apply.