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About the Region

Heart of the Continent Geotourism Program

The Heart of the Continent includes the lakes, forests and communities on the Minnesota/Ontario border and consists of over five million acres of public land. Along with developing a common identity, the Heart of the Continent Partnership (HOCP) aims to create and sustain economic stability for the communities within the region. The program will promote collaboration across boundaries and share resources to benefit the public lands and surrounding communities. Through cooperation and capacity building among communities, region-wide dialogue will be built to enable vibrant communities to flourish alongside healthy public lands.

Grand Marais Harbor – Pete Markham / Flickr

The Heart of the Continent Geotourism Program seeks to sustain and celebrate the health, beauty, diversity, and productivity of the natural, cultural and aesthetic resources of the border lakes region through collaboration and communication. This project helps to promote a region-wide vision to ensure sustainability of this interconnected ecosystem and helps tell the story of the region through the voices of the people who live there.

Highlighting the Nature, Culture and Heritage of the Heart of the Continent

National Geographic worked with local organizations, businesses and residents to map the best of the Heart of the Continent to create this MapGuide. But we may not have captured everything! We invite you to recommend historic, cultural and natural landmarks; events, attractions and activities; businesses; trails; artists, artisans and storytellers as well as local legends to capture the region’s unique character, heritage and beauty. So if you haven't already, please sign up to nominate places!

Using your recommendations, this site is built to promote travel to the region that celebrates and sustains what is most distinctive about the Heart of the Continent, its scenic landscapes, vibrant local communities, rich diversity and captivating history.

About the Geotourism Program

National Geographic has worked with partners to develop similar Geotourism MapGuides in several other regions around the United States and the world. MapGuide projects have been completed in Greater Yellowstone, the Central Cascades (Oregon, Washington), the Crown of the Continent (Alberta, British Columbia, Montana), Guatemala, Montreal, Sonoran Desert (Arizona, Sonora), Romania, Norway, Honduras, Peru, Baja California, Rhode Island, Vermont, Newfoundland and Appalachia.

Founded in 1888 to "increase and diffuse geographic knowledge," National Geographic works to inspire people to explore and care about the planet. It reaches more than 600 million people worldwide each month through its official journal, National Geographic, and other magazines; National Geographic Channel; television documentaries; music; radio; films; books; DVDs; maps; exhibitions; live events; school publishing programs; interactive media; and merchandise. National Geographic has funded more than 9,000 scientific research, conservation and exploration projects and supports an education program promoting geographic literacy.

Through this project we want your nominations on what is unique and authentic about the Heart of the Continent region. Please consider contributing a small amount of time to nominate your favorite sites and stories for the map.

To learn more about the Heart of the Continent Partnership, visit

Download the QR code for scannable link to