Briggs Farm offers a wide range of outdoor adventures that you can add to your stay, event, or celebration: guided birdwatching, stargazing, wild fiber weaving, deer and turkey hunting, trout fishing, Seekers Wild wilderness survival training, sit spot meditation, and more. See the complete list of our offerings below. Or, go adventuring on your own; see the Make Your Own Adventure section for some suggestions.
About Briggs Outdoors Adventures
- Many of the adventures listed below are provided by our partners and are subject to their availability. Wood-fired Cooking, Guided Deer Hunting, and Bonfire+Hayride are offered by Steve Briggs.
- Adventures can be flexible. You might want to spend just a few hours birdwatching or trout fishing, or the entire day. Adventures can also be adjusted according to group size, skill level, and age. Once you book your adventure, we’ll put our adventure partner in touch with you prior to your arrival to work out the details.
- Expect your experience to vary depending on the season and weather as well.
- Unless otherwise noted, our adventure partners’ rates are $25 an hour, with a $50 minimum daily charge. Payment can be made directly to our partners before your departure from the farm.
- To set up an adventure, select “Adventures” from the “Additional Options” menu when booking your stay. (The menu will appear after you select your dates.) Or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Steve at (507) 450-9902.
Guided Outdoor Adventures
Birding for Beginners
Birding is a great way to get outdoors, learn about the natural world, and experience the thrill of the hunt. This half-day birding class will introduce you or your family to the exciting sport of birding. Our experienced birding guides will start you off at the farmhouse bird feeding station, then take you on a short hike into one or more of the habitats found on the farm. Your goal will be to get your “life list” kick-started by identifying at least 25 different species of birds.
Along the way, you’ll learn about bird behavior and habits; where and when to find birds; how to use binoculars, field guides, apps, and other tools for identifying birds; how to keep a “Life List” (and what one is); how to participate in local and national bird counts; and how to set up your own bird feeding station and nesting boxes.
Allow 2-4 hours.
Bluffland Birding Hot Spots
Briggs Farm is home to dozens of species of birds (see our ongoing list on the bird watching page) and is located in the Mississippi River migratory flyway, In addition, three Audubon-designated Important Bird Areas (IBAs) are located within a forty-minute drive of the farm: the Upper Mississippi National Wildlife Refuge IBA to the east, the Whitewater Valleys IBA to the north, and the Blufflands Root River IBA to the south.
Our experienced birding guides have spent years exploring the area’s birding hot spots and know where (and when) to find the most interesting and exotic birds. Whether you’re looking for a migration experience (tundra swans, bald eagles) or for an elusive woodland species to add to your life list, Eric Nelson and/or Julie McCormick can help.
Allow 4-8 hours (morning/afternoon or all day).
Wild Weaving Basics
Some primitive skills are solitary in their uses. Learning to weave baskets however is an essential and transferable wilderness living skill. A structure of woven materials from grass, twigs, pine needles, cattails, etc. can be a basket, a mat, a wall or door, a fish trap, furniture, clothing, a net and so on.
In this adventure, you will learn material selection and harvesting techniques, preparing the materials, and how to weave them into a basket. Of course you will be able to take home your creation of function and beauty.
Allow 1-3 hours
Wilderness Survival Skill Training
In this adventure from Seekers Wild, you’ll learn how to meet your basic human needs in remote wilderness settings. These skills can be used not only to potentially save your life in a crisis, but also to help you cope with the stresses of everyday life. These hands-on experiences will increase your self-reliance, self-confidence, and critical thinking skills—plus, forge a deeper connection with nature.
This day-long or multi-day adventure may include some or all of the following experiences:
- building and using functional tools
- becoming invisible with stealth training, silent movement, and camouflage
- building a fire using multiple techniques: single match, fire by friction, metal match/magnesium
- fire safety and theory: balancing oxygen, fuel, and heat, tinder selection, managing surface area
- primitive trap building, including: rolling snare, deadfalls, pencil snare and more
- finding and purifying water
- building a survival shelter
- compass-free navigation by the sun
- foraging and preparing delicious and healthy wild edible foods
- basic knife safety
- medicinal plant identification
- awareness training with sit spots
Allow 4-8 hours per day.
The farm gets good and dark at night—the perfect environment for exploring the night sky. Start out shortly before sunset with a small fire and s’mores as Kate O’Grady (middle school science teacher and Winona State University astronomy professor) answers your astronomy questions and demonstrates how to use a star chart and telescope. As the stars come out, Kate will guide you in finding major constellations, stars, and planets both with the naked eye and with the benefit of field glasses or telescopes.
Allow 2 hours.
Wild Edible and Medicinal Plants Hike
Explore the farm for wild edible and medicinal plants with Seekers Wild instructor Derek Barkeim. You’ll learn to find, identify, and harvest a variety of wild edible plants, safely and ethically—not only out in the wild, but in your own backyard. You can taste what you pick along the way, and once you’re back from the hike, you can prepare a small meal from your harvest. Add an order of wood-fired pizzas to this experience, and you can top some of them with your wild edibles.
Allow 2-4 hours.
Nature Scavenger Hunt
We’ve compiled a list of plants, animals, birds, insects, rocks, and other natural features found on the farm . . . how many can you find? If you can identify more than 100 different items, we’ll put your name on the list of elite amateur naturalists who make up the Briggs Farm Century Club.
Allow 1-2 hours.
Creatures of the Night
This is our Scavanger Hunt adventure with a nocturnal twist. Grab some flashlights and head out into the night to find bats, owls, moths, coyotes, and other creatures of the night with the help of one of our naturalists.
Allow 1-2 hours.
Sit Spot Meditation
A sit spot is a place one goes to often and regularly to look, listen, feel, smell, and even taste the surrounding landscape. Sit spots, like meditation, have been shown to improve mental and physical health as well as improve the participant’s spiritual state. Sit spots also allow you to see animals and other natural mysteries not seen in normal outdoor recreation. Doing a sit spot regularly also increases one’s awareness and understanding of the natural world. This “quiet” adventure from Seekers Wild is perfect for individuals, small groups, or retreats, and involves a short talk about the concept of sit spots as well as a facilitated sit spot experience.
Allow 1-2 hours.
This is the perfect “soft” adventure for your party, wedding, or family gathering. Steve will hook up tyhe hay wagon and take you on a tour of the farm, then create a huge bonfire, perfect for s’mores, storytelling, or just relaxing. A flat fee of $95 applies; this item may be added on at the time of your reservation, or at any time during your stay.
Allow 1-3 hours.
Have you ever wanted to try cooking on an old-fashioned wood cookstove, just like the pioneers? Have you ever tasted bread or pizza cooked in a wood-fired brick oven? If not, you’re in for a treat. Steve will demonstrate wood-fired cooking techniques (and let you try your hand at it) as he prepares a delicious meal for your group. Ask Steve about pricing.
Allow 2-3 hours.
Briggs Farm lies right in the middle of some of the Midwest’s best trout country, with the Root River, the Whitewater River, and Trout Run Creek all located within a half hour’s drive. Or stay a little closer to home by trying your luck at one of Cedar Valley Creek’s cold springs, just a few hundred yards from the front door of the farmhouse. Need guide services? We can set you up with one of the best trout guides in the area.
Whitetail Deer Hunting
There’s a long history of whitetail deer hunting at Briggs Farm. Our hunting packages include guide services provided by Steve Briggs and all food, drinks, and meals prepared by Steve. For more information, see the Whitetail Deer Hunts page.
In this wintertime activity, you’ll put on snowshoes and head out to find the tracks of various woodland animals. If weather conditions permit, we’ll bring along plaster for casting some of the tracks, which you can take home with you.
Allow 1-2 hours.
Winter Shelter Building
Learn how to build a shelter out of materials such as snow, pine boughs, natural fibers, or whatever is at hand. Besides being an essential outdoor survival skill, kids will have fun playing in their own winter “fort.” Consider combining this with Fire by Friction, below.
Allow 1-2 hours.
Fire by Friction
Learn the art of primitive fire making with Seekers Wild instructor Derek Barkeim. Construct your own bow and hand drills and use them to build a small fire. During your experience, Derek will explain the history and theory of fire by friction, as well as basic fire safety.
Allow 1-2 hours.
Make Your Own Adventure
If you like, you can fill your stay at Briggs Farm with your own adventures. Here are some suggestions:
A wide variety of flowers bloom in the farm’s meadows, woodlands, and creek bottoms throughout the warm months. You’re welcome to collect bouquet to accent the farmhouse, your wedding or party, or to take home. However, please practice “Prudent Picking”: if you notice a rare flower, leave it in place to help it survive on the farm.
If birding is your passion, we have more than 280 reasons to make Briggs Farm your headquarters for bird watching in the bluffs and valleys of southeastern Minnesota’s Driftless Area. That’s the number of bird species that have been identified in the diverse habitats of the area, including raptors, waterfowl, and rare woodland songbirds. You’ll find binoculars, local field guides, and checklists at the farm house that you are welcome to use if you would like to go birdwatching. See our Birding in Southeastern Minnesota page for more information about birding in the area.
Berry and Apple Picking
The woods are filled with “billions” of berries from mid-July through August, according to Steve…maybe a slight exaggeration, but not by much. And beginning in late August, our legacy apple orchard begins bearing a wide variety of wild apples. Berries or apples…pick as many as you like! (“Legacy apple orchard is a fancy way of saying the orchard has been abandoned for years and years, but still produces apples. On the up side, this means it is not sprayed with pesticides…but it also means they’re more of an adventure, i.e., not grocery-store perfect.) For either activity, wear long pants and sleeves to protect your arms and legs from getting scratched.
The farm gets real dark at night; on a clear, moonless night, you can see thousands of stars (and maybe a few meteors). Be sure to ask Steve about how to turn off the yard light.
Self-Guided Scavenger Hunts
Ask for our Briggs Farm Scavenger Hunt lists and try your luck at finding various plant and animal species, as well as other historical and natural features, on the farm. This is a great activity to do with kids.
Eastern Wild Turkey Hunting
This is a self-guided adventure, although trespass fees do apply. See our Eastern Wild Turkey Hunting page for more information.
Snowshoe & Cross-Country Skiing
Our 15-mile trail system is perfect for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing (see our online trail map). A limited number of snowshoes are available in the farmhouse; however, you will need to bring your own cross-country skis..