Native American Frog Bay Tribal National Park - Travel Wisconsin
It Is A Sign Of Things To Come At The Trail's End
Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Native American Indians
I am pleased to write about Frog Bay Tribal National Park (FBTNP), which I visited in October of 2013. Still, when I look at my pictures, the restful spirit of this place seems to return to me with its own particular joy. I look forward to the day that I may return once again to this unique place of reverence and solicitude. Each person that visits is invited to enjoy and care for the land as an individual trust along with the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa is a sovereign band of Ojibwe Native American Indians that owns the land.
Sometimes, things come full circle in a wonderful way, as though it were meant to be since the beginning of time for the conservation of wildlife and for the people of a nation to take pride in.
Frog Bay Tribal National Park holds the honor of being the first of it's kind, a tribal national park in the United States and is located along the shore of Lake Superior on the Red Cliff Indian Reservation in Bayfield County, Wisconsin. By any standard, this eighty-nine acre parcel of land would be considered small for a National Park. However, the grandeur of this area is remarkable and quite spectacular in a quiet spirited sort of way that embraces the soul. Size becomes insignificant, except for the need to walk gently on this land in order to conserve it for generations to come.
This will be a virtual tour for you to read and see photos of the pristine national park.
A Lake Superior Beach
Quiet beauty will arrest you as you pause to take in the quiet wonders of this pristine boreal forest.
As you walk along the forest floor, you will notice a soft or spongy feel that is due to years of accumulated leaf fall, it will put a spring in your step!
Walk through the forest with me along gentle nature trails and I will take you to see Frog Bay Beach on the shore of beautiful Lake Superior.
At The Parking Area
A Pristine Primordial Forest
Frog Bay Tribal National Park encompasses a pristine primordial forest that is considered, in itself, to be globally significant. But there is more, the park is further embellished by a quarter mile stretch of undeveloped Frog Bay beach on the south shore of Lake Superior. Lake Superior is the largest fresh water lake by area in the world. This is a prime piece of real estate, but to the Red Cliff Band of Chippewa, it holds a much larger significance than its land value.
This highly memorable National Park has an equally special story that goes along with it. There almost seems to have been an unseen pact between the land and those that have owned it to leave it as it is. The land has remained untouched by development for decades.
Many years ago, this piece of property fell out of the hands of the Red Cliff Band of Chippewa. The people of Red Cliff had longed to regain this and other properties on the reservation that fell to outside ownership. I would guess that many prayers and offerings were made in this regard.
The First Tribal National Park in the United States
The sign reads: WELCOME TO THE FIRST TRIBAL NATIONAL PARK IN THE UNITED STATES.
The intent of this conservation property is to permanently protect a pristine example of transitional boreal forest and undeveloped Lake Superior shoreline. These lands have been restored to tribal ownership by the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, who are opening the doors of this special place for all to visit and experience.Please respect and appreciate the unique honor to enter tribal lands — a natural gem to be enjoyed by all.
David and Marjorie Johnson
Fortunately, this parcel of land was acquired by David and Marjorie Johnson. A portion was acquired in an auction and adjoining property was purchased outright with hopes of a profit in the future. The Johnson’s would enjoy visits to the property, but never felt comfortable in developing it in any way. In fact, initially the property was only accessible by water.
Eventually a neighboring land owner sold road access to the Johnsons. It was as though the Johnsons were holding the land in trust for a greater reason, which was culminated in the dedication and public opening of Frog Bay Tribal National Park on August 03, 2012.
Marjorie had gone on to eternity but was remembered by David, who dedicated the park in her memory as part of the ceremony. The Johnsons had donated half the value of the property, which was to be conserved forever with no development, returning it to the hands of the Red Cliff Band of Chippewa. The total value of the land had multiplied many times over the years, this was a very generous gift.
The other half of the purchase price was negotiated through grants, working with the Bayfield Regional Conservancy and the Apostle Island Area Community Fund. For all involved, it seemed a labor of love.
Have you visited Frog Bay Tribal National Park?
Surrounded By Nature
The parking area is quite small and hints at the need to be diligent in walking gently upon the paths.
- Nature surrounds you as you step out of your car in the parking area.
- Pack out what you pack in.
- Treat the land with reverence.
- Leave only your footsteps as you go.
Signs will remind you to respect park boundaries.
You will have the opportunity to support Frog Bay National Park with a donation container in the parking area.
- Miigwech means Thank You!
A Road Less Traveled
As I walked along, I turned around to gaze at the roadway, it is definitely a road less traveled. No vehicle traffic is allowed by park visitors past the parking lot.
Moss Covered Log
Listen To The Quiet
As I got out of the car and began walking down the roadway path of the forest entrance, I stopped a few moments to listen to the quiet. There were no sounds of engines or other human noise.
The quiet sounds of the nature walk brought an immediate restfulness, a refreshing quieting to my soul. There was a gentle harmony with all around me. I was reminded of the words to a favorite hymn from my childhood:
“This is my Father’s world,
and to my listening ears all nature sings,
and round me rings the music of the spheres."
The Walk From The Parking Area
It is a short walk along this byway to get to the entrance of the park into the forest
Through The Forest
We chose the path through the forest to the beach. A sense of anticipation rose in me to discover the wonders of the beautiful park.
- There are walking sticks made available for visitors to use.
- A good walking stick is always nice to have on uneven terrain.
Fall Is A Beautiful Time To Visit The Park
Wooden steps have been added from the roadway up into the forest to make the entry easier for people to visit and to minimize breakdown of the entrance due to foot traffic.
Transitional Boreal Forests of Wisconsin
The boreal forests of Wisconsin are considered to be transitional, which means they may have a mix of trees common in both more northern and southern boreal forests. Boreal forests were once found around the world, almost continuously in a line of northern climates that have long winter months with temperatures below freezing, as well as a shorter summers with four distinctive seasons.
List of Trees In Boreal Forest
I took several pictures that include leaf cover that gives you the idea of the rich variety of trees in this forest. The canopy stretching high above, includes a diversity of old growth trees that include:
- Hemlock ( Tsuga )
- White Spruce
- White Birch
- Yellow Birch
- White Pine
- Balsam Fir
Frog Bay Tribal National Park on the shore of Lake Superior
Frog Bay Tribal National Park consists of a transitional old growth boreal forest. Generally it would be darker than my pictures reveal due to heavy canopy cover. However, my pictures were taken in mid October when many leaves had already fallen, allowing for more light.
- Leaves on the ground reveal the deciduous tree population quite nicely.
- I understand that the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa plan to feature the forest for educational purposes and will be identifying many of the trees and plants with their English and Ojibway names, as well as their cultural and medicinal values.
Scenic View of Frog Bay
View of Lake Superior at Frog Bay
The view was breathtaking when I arrive at the shore of Lake Superior at Frog Bay. As I stood on the beach of Frog Bay, I was enchanted by the beauty of this picture perfect setting. The shoreline is sheltered right across the bay by Oak Island, which is one of five Apostle Islands that can be seen from this vantage point.
Basswood, Hermit and Stockton Islands can be seen if you look to your right. As you turn left, you will see Raspberry Island in the distance. The islands are part of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. We were standing here in a haven of delights. A perfect place to continue your meditative journey that will leave you enriched in spirit, soul and body.
Remember, that while you are visiting, you will be a steward of the land, along with the people of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa a band of the Ojibwe Native American Indians and you can help with their expenses by donating to the upkeep of the park. Miigwech!
When you see this red and white road sign, you will know that you are just about to the parking area of Frog Bay Tribal National Park.
I suggest using the rest area before taking a hike in the park.
The Story of Frog Bay
- Large Map View of FBTNP
Frog Bay Tribal National Park
- Frog Bay Tribal National Park - Bayfield Regional Conservancy
FBTNP project description BRC
- Red Cliff NSN Gov PDF Newsletter
Treaty Natural Resources Division - Ganawenjigaade means "It is taken care of, protected."
- The Frog Bay Tribal National Park now open to the public - The Daily Press: County Journal
Red Cliff – Where else can you find primordial boreal forests, pristine beaches, and a quaint hiking trail along Lake Superior that has not yet been developed?
The shoreline for the park is a quarter mile long and is adjoined by private lands.
There is a little over 2 miles of natural trails.
On The Beach Gazing
Thanks to Dave Bratley for the information about birds and plants he provided on this park tour.
Hemlock Is Rare To See
Hemlock is a rare treat that many will never see or be able to delight in the softness of the needles. The tree use to be widespread in the area. Interestingly, it was not the logging industry that brought the tree to near devastation. Tanneries were responsible for the loss of Hemlock after its bark became a desired commodity due to its high tannin content. Trees were harvested in great numbers and the bark removed. Often the wood was left to go to waste.
Hemlock has a beauty that draws you to it. The needle pattern looks like Balsam at first, but the needles are shorter and a bit softer.
I personally live just outside the borders of Voyageurs National Park, with boreal forests all around me. It is were I grew up and the wilderness country is where my heart is. Seeing the forest of Frog Bay National Park reminded me so much of those I look into everyday and groom trails in. Being in the woods seems to be where I am grounded the most.
- I took this picture as we walked back to the parking lot into the setting sun. I can not account for the the little rainbow near the bottom. I have not enhanced the picture in any way.
© 2015 Susie Lehto