Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary

Lower Phalen Creek Project
E 4th St and Commercial St
Saint Paul, MN 55107

Field tripsGetting There

A unique 27-acre city park and natural area in the Mississippi River corridor located on the outside of a large ancient bend in the Mississippi River on the site of a former contaminated rail yard, just east of Downtown Saint Paul. The sanctuary is home to towering limestone and sandstone bluffs, a fresh spring-fed stream and wetlands, remnants of Minnesota’s early industrial history and Wakan Tipi (Spirit House aka Carver’s Cave), a site sacred to the Dakota. The park provides unique opportunities for people to experience the many resources nature has to offer right here in the cities with walking paths with interpreted features and bird life that includes bald eagles and other raptors, shorebirds and migrating songbirds.

Phone: 651-266-6400, Saint Paul Parks and Recreation
Email: sclarkmmc [at] comcast [dot] net

Hours of Operation: Open 365 days a year. Each season offers picturesque views and unique plant and wildlife activity. The freshwater stream that runs through the sanctuary is consistently 56 degrees, and this year-round open water source ensures that you will see wildlife in the park on the coldest of days!

Note:In the warmer months, one portable bathroom is located at the sanctuary near the parking lot. There is no potable water source or picnic facility at the sanctuary, but groups are welcome to bring along a lunch or snack provided they Leave No Trace (that is, clean up and remove all trash).

Field Trips

Contact Email: sclarkmmc [at] comcast [dot] net

Curriculum for the Sanctuary has been designed to be implemented in three sessions: an introduction lesson, fieldwork and a follow up lesson. Fieldwork is an important component of each topic, allowing children the opportunity to see and experience learning! Topics include ...

  • Isopods: Design Your Own Experiment - Life Science
  • Populations and Ecosystems - Life Science
  • Then and Now - Earth Science
  • The Changing Landscape - Earth Science
  • Water! Phalen Creek and the Mississippi River - Earth Science
  • Changing Life, Changing Technology and Changing Names on a Map. - Science and Social Studies
  • Indigenous Gifts from the Dakota Pipestone Center of the Universe to and through the STEM/S & STEAM - STEM/S = Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Society
  • The Chocolate Turtle Shell, Solar Sand Castle Eclipse - Earth and Space Science
  • Ethical Science and Engineering in the North Star State - Science and Social Studies

Everyone should wear closed toed shoes and long pants. While there are groomed paths throughout the park, you'll also explore in high grass. Dressing in layers will allow everyone to be comfortable throughout the day whether it is windy, sunny, or raining.

Cost per Child/Student: free
Cost per Adult/Educator: free

Group Size: The sanctuary recommends that you break into smaller groups of about 5 students each and distribute designated roles among each small group, including recorder, task manager, time-keeper, supply manager and leave-no-tracer.

Target Grade Level: 7th through 9th grade

Parent/Guardian/Educator Policy: Adult supervision is critical to ensuring that all students are safe and participating.

For more information, visit

Getting There

Parking Information: There is a small parking lot on site. Please do not leave valuables in your vehicle.

Driving Directions: The Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary is located near the intersection of E 4th St and Commercial St, just east of Saint Paul's Lowertown neighborhood at the foot of Dayton's Bluff. The Kellogg Bridge runs along the northwest boundary of the sanctuary, which lies below it.

From the west, take the Mounds Blvd exit off of I-94, turn right, crossing Kellogg/E 3rd St. Stay right, and take a sharp right turn on Commercial St then go down the hill to the first intersection (E 4th St).

From the east, take the Mounds Blvd exit off I-94 and turn left before making a quick right turn on Commercial St and following the directions above.

An off-road bicycle/pedestrian trail along Commercial St provides great bicycle access from the trail network along Mounds Bluff.

From Lowertown by car, begin at the corner of E 5th St and Broadway (across the street from the northeast edge of the Saint Paul Farmers' Market.) Head east on 5th St then turn right on John St and left on E 4th St to the sanctuary. You can drive this route -

From Lowertown bike or walk along the Bruce Vento Regional Trail extension, an off road trail along E 4th St. Note: This connection has been partially or fully closed at times due to Central Corridor and Lafayette Bridge construction.

The sanctuary also is within easy biking or walking distance from Swede Hollow Park. Wen you emerge from the park at the trailhead at Payne Ave and E 7th St, just veer left toward the I-94 bridge. You will travel under the I-94 bridge, loop over an abandoned rail bridge and down to the sanctuary.

Park map: (PDF)

For more information, visit ...

Information subject to change. Please check with Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary for the most current information. Last updated on Sat, Mar 29, 2014.