Camel’s Hump Park and Open Space

View of field and forests

Since 2012, we've been restoring the woods, savanna, and remnant prairie still growing on the sandstone bluffs of Camel's Hump Park and Open Space, a 60-acre Cottage Grove park with a vantage that gives expansive views of the Mississippi River Valley.

Where is Camel’s Hump Park and Open Space?

This Cottage Grove park is located on the bluffs east of Highway 61. It lies just south of our restoration efforts at Marathon Petroleum's woodlands and across the highway from FMR's Riverside Park restoration site in St. Paul Park. Together, these add additional links in a conservation corridor taking shape along the southern stretch of the metro Mississippi River. In the past, this park has been called Gateway North Open Space Area. The current name refers to the undulating bluff, which from a distance resembles the back of a camel.

The public is welcome to visit Camel’s Hump Park and Open Space. (See the City of Cottage Grove's website for more info.)

Our work here takes place on Dakota homelands. Learn more.

What’s special about Camel’s Hump Park and Open Space?

This park is a great example of a variety of habitat types packed into one site. While most of Minnesota's prairie has been converted to agricultural land or housing since European settler colonization, this bluff prairie remains. Due to the steep slopes on much of the site, the area was never heavily grazed, preserving some pockets of native prairie and savanna vegetation. These imperiled habitats are crucial for many of the rare plant and animal species that depend on them.

The site also boasts impressively diverse oak forests, with blooming spring wildflowers galore. Here, you can see pileated woodpeckers drumming in the canopy, and if you're lucky, catch a brief glimpse of a barred owl as its swoops silently through the open forest.

Community members can enjoy impressive views from the bluff, including sunsets over the Mississippi River valley. The site is also ADA accessible, with a paved trail winding through our restored savanna on the way to two stunning overlooks.

Camel’s Hump Park and Open Space has been permanently protected through a conservation easement held by the Minnesota Land Trust.

Our work at Camel’s Hump Park and Open Space

We wrote the natural resource management plan for Camel's Hump Park and Open Space in 2012, and have been restoring and tending the site with volunteers and contractors ever since.

On the blufftop and at the parking lot, FMR volunteers have planted pollinator patches — small gardens that provide much-needed concentrated habitat and resources for pollinators, birds and other wildlife. In the woods, volunteers help remove garlic mustard encroaching from neighboring properties.

Prior to restoration, the forest and oak savanna at the site had been overtaken by a dense cover of brush made up of buckthorn, Tartarian honeysuckle, Siberian elm and more. FMR's restoration has removed buckthorn from large swaths of this forest, and the oak savanna areas along the trail are a testament to our success. What was once a tangled thicket of brush is now an open area with grasses and wildflowers blooming underneath tall, stately bur oaks.

Find out more and get involved

Camels Hump volunteers

Partners and funders for our work at Camel’s Hump Park and Open Space

This work is made possible by the 3M Foundation, the City of Cottage Grove, the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, the Outdoor Heritage Fund, RBC Wealth Management and Xcel Energy, and our generous donors like you!