Palisade Head is a large rock formation on the North Shore of Lake Superior in the U.S. state of Minnesota. It is within Tettegouche State Park but not contiguous with the rest of that park. Palisade Head is located at milepost 57 on scenic Minnesota State Highway 61 in Beaver Bay Township, Lake County, approximately 54 miles (86 km) northeast of Duluth and three miles (five km) northeast of Silver Bay.
Palisade Head is formed from a rhyolitic lava flow which was extruded some 1.1 billion years ago. During the Mesoproterozoic era of the Precambrian eon, the continent spread apart on the Midcontinent Rift System extending from what is now eastern Lake Superior through Duluth to Kansas; this rifting process stopped before an ocean developed. A flow some 200 feet (60 meters) thick formed extremely hard volcanic rock which resisted a billion years of erosion which cut down surrounding formations. This formed both Palisade Head and Shovel Point, which is within the main part of Tettegouche State Park about two miles (three kilometers) to the east. The feature is a shallow headland, with Lake Superior to the southwest, southeast, and northeast. Its high point is over 300 feet (approximately 100 meters) above the level of the lake; the lakeside cliffs stand up to several hundred feet (60 meters) above water level.
Flora and fauna
The headland is covered by a mixed forest of white spruce, mountain ash, aspen, paper birch, and oak. Raptors can often be seen soaring over the cliffs. Peregrine falcons nest on Palisdade Head, Bald eagles nest in the area, and thousands of hawks of several species can be seen migrating along the shoreline in the fall. Trees are sparse, but there are plentiful wild blueberries and, less commonly, gooseberries.
Palisade Head is maintained in its natural state, and has few guard rails. As a result, it is possible to get very close to a sheer cliff ledge, that drops straight down approximately 300 feet. It is important to remember that this cliff is very dangerous. We know of at least two accidental deaths, caused by people getting too close to the edge.
On September 11, 2017, a fourteen-year-old girl lost her balance and fell to her death from the top of the cliff.
In April 2010, a forty-eight-year-old woman fell from the top of Palisade Head, and was killed. It is believed that this incident was an accident, because the woman was excited about starting a new job at the time of the fall.
Palisade Head is undeveloped; there are no improvements except for an access road, antenna tower, short-term parking, and a few low rock walls near the edge of the cliffs. On clear days there are views of the Sawtooth Mountains to the northeast, Split Rock Lighthouse to the southwest, the Bayfield Peninsula and Apostle Islands of Wisconsin across the lake to the south, and the ship traffic on Lake Superior. It is a regional center for rock climbing with many routes up the lakeshore cliffs. These cliffs were used for more sinister, albeit fictional purposes in The Good Son, partially filmed on location at Palisade Head.
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