Audubon Center of the North Woods

Audubon Center of the North Woods Logo

Basic Information

Address: 54155 Audubon Dr., Sandstone, MN
Phone Number: 888-404-7743
Fax Number: 320-245-5272
Director: Bryan Wood

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Audubon Center of the North Woods
Audubon Center of the North Woods
Audubon Center of the North Woods
Audubon Center of the North Woods

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Additional Information

Days and Hours: Year-round

Established in 1968, the Audubon Center of the North Woods (ACNW) is a private, non-profit 501(c)3 residential environmental learning center (RELC) and green retreat & conference center on Grindstone Lake near Sandstone, MN - 90 miles north of Minneapolis/St. Paul. We offer a great variety of outdoor and environmental education experiences for people of all ages - youth, families and adults - and are an ideal K12 school field trip and student travel destination. In addition to our on-site programs and camps, ACNW provides outreach programs throughout the region. All of our facilities are also available for rental - perfect for hosting your own retreat or conference at our beautiful 535-acre lakeside location.

Our Mission: To instill a connection and commitment to the environment in people of all communities through experiential learning.

Our Vision: A healthy planet where all people live in balance with the Earth.

We offer a great variety of environmental, outdoor and challenge learning experiences for people of all ages, with educational programs in natural history and science, team-building, adventure/challenge, and outdoor/environmental education.

Whether a day program, multi-day immersion visit, weekend retreat, or college course, ACNW provides the best environmental, team-building, challenge and outdoor skills educational programs for youth, college students, adults, and families. Our high quality programs, along with our optimal location, make us not only the best choice for educational reasons, but for lower travel time and cost as well… something we all can appreciate!

Come enjoy the learning adventures the North Woods has to offer!

Grade Levels:
Group Type: Groups of any size or age are welcome
Disabled Access:

All buildings and lodging are handicapped accessible.

Program Type:

The Audubon Experience
ACNW is accredited by the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA CASI) and offers residential environmental and outdoor educational experiences to schools and homeschool groups. Our comfortable dormitories and dining room complex can accommodate up to 162 people.

ACNW combines a diverse sanctuary, over 40 years of experience, a staff that includes the K-12 Programs Coordinator, a Wildlife Coordinator, Intern Coordinator, and professional naturalists and interns from the U.S. and around the world.

Some highlights of our program:

  • Terrific meal service with a focus on local and seasonal foods
  • Over 50 class choices – all aligned with MN Academic Standards
  • Full array of adventure and challenge programming
  • Modern dorm facilities with bathrooms in each room
  • Our wildlife barn has non-releasable wildlife available for viewing and programs
  • Evening programs included in every package
  • Dedicated, professional, diverse and fun staff
  • A leader in environmental education and renewable energy systems
  • Central Minnesota location – only 90 miles from the Twin Cities and 70 miles from St. Cloud and Duluth
  • Teacher recruitment bonus
  • Seasonal, holiday and new school discounts
  • All buildings handicapped-accessible
Accreditation: NCA CASI
Registration: Contact us for bookings
Food: Scratch-based cooking with a focus on seasonal and local foods; we are adept at accommodating a variety of food allergies and dietary preferences.
Length of Visit: 1-5 days
Student/Staff Ratio: 15/1
Max. Group Number: 160
Gift Shop/Factory Outlet: On-site gift shop
Amenities: Free wireless internet; private bathrooms in dorm rooms; 535 acres with over 7 miles of trails; on deep, clear Grindstone Lake; equipment available for rent to guests
Reservations Needed: Please call or email to book your group's visit or for more information

Our center is located only six miles from Interstate 35, 90 miles north of the Twin Cities (about 1 1/2 hours) and 60 miles south of Duluth (about 1 hour).

  • From Interstate 35, exit on the Sandstone Exit 191.
  • Go west on County road 61 just over 2 miles
  • Turn right (west) on County Road 27 and go about 100 feet
  • Turn left (south) at the 'T' intersection with Grindstone Lake Road, and go just over 3 miles
  • Turn right (north) on County Road 17 (Fox Road) and go 250 feet
  • Turn left (west) at Audubon Drive. Follow this road for 1 mile to the main campus
Nearby Attractions: ACNW is on Grindstone Lake and is near Banning State Park, the Hinckley Fire Museum, the Northwest Fur Post and the Kettle River.
Mission Statement:

To instill a connection and commitment to the environment in people of all communities through experiential learning.

Philosophy/Belief Statement:

Our Vision A healthy planet where all people live in balance with the Earth.

Our Core Values:

  • We demonstrate respect, care and passion for the earth, all people and all living things
  • We strive for excellence in everything we do through integrity, open communication and teamwork
  • Individuals are valued, engaged and appreciated for their unique contributions
  • We believe in life-long learning through positive shared experiences with the natural world
  • Our efforts encourage others to recognize their interconnectedness with the earth through their actions
Facility History:

In 1968, the Audubon Center of the North Woods (ACNW) was established following a bequest of 535 acres by Dr. Marguerite Schwyzer of St. Paul to the National Audubon Society, who then transferred the land to the ACNW, a separate private, 501(c) non-profit organization. Programming began in 1971 and since that time, the Center has served as a residential and day use environmental education facility for small groups of international students, college students, adults, and school groups.