Viewing Lady’s Slippers
Finding, viewing and photographing Showy Lady’s Slipper orchids has long been a popular activity on the Scenic Highway, Beltrami County Highway 39, which is now designated a State Scenic Byway and named for the state flower. For the years 2010-2020, highway reconstruction caused a fair amount of disruption to this activity. Even though the orchids were rescued before and restored after each phase of construction, the various road segment closures and detours were a challenge. Construction was completed in 2020, but you may see some surface work – not requiring detours – on the northern parts of the byway in 2021. The orchids will be returned to the areas just south of Blackduck in 2021.
On the byway the lady’s slippers typically bloom in late June. Depending on the temperatures and rainfall, the peak blooming can be anywhere from June 15 to July 5, but most often is right around June 25-28. The blossoms last about 10-12 days, and again, this depends on the weather.
The very best and safest place to view the orchids is at the Lady Slipper Interpretive Site, located about ½ mile north of The Scenic Store in Pennington. The site has safe, adequate parking and a boardwalk for close viewing of the lady’s slippers. Many small groups of the flowers can also be viewed by walking south from the site along the edge of the Pennington Bog Scientific and Natural Area (SNA). Please note, you need a permit from the Department of Natural Resources to enter the SNA. The Mississippi River Interpretive Site does not have orchids within the perimeter, but it is a safe place to park and a short walk along the road to the north brings you to several groups of lady’s slippers. A short walking loop trail is planned for the wooded area just to the north of the parking area. See “Interpretive Sites”
For viewing orchids at these and other locations along the byway, download the map from the link below. This map illustrates where the larger concentrations of lady’s slippers are typically found. Please be alert to traffic around you and stay safe.