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The High Falls at Grand Portage

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Explore Minnesota’s All-American Road

A Drive Along the Scenic North Shore

Sometimes we are so eager to explore the broader world around us that we forget many amazing adventures that can be had close to home. Minnesota Highway 61 is Minnesota’s only All-American Road. The North Shore Scenic Drive follows the shoreline of Lake Superior for 154 miles of spectacular scenery between Duluth and the Canadian border. This area is home to various natural and cultural attractions including eight state parks. From scenic hikes and waterfalls to charming towns and historical landmarks, the North Shore Scenic Drive has something for everyone.

If you're looking for outdoor adventures, the North Shore won't disappoint. In addition to hiking and waterfall sightseeing, the area is home to several state parks with opportunities for camping, fishing, boating, and wildlife spotting. 

Just past the town of Two Harbors is Gooseberry Falls State Park. The park features a series of cascading waterfalls, hiking trails, and picnic areas. The falls themselves are a sight to behold, with water tumbling over a series of rocky ledges before flowing into Lake Superior. Be sure to check out the stunning views of Lake Superior from the Picnic Flow, an excellent example of an ancient, hardened lava flow. 

One of the most popular destinations along the North Shore is Split Rock Lighthouse State Park. The lighthouse, which sits atop a 130-foot cliff, is one of the most photographed landmarks in the state. Visitors can tour the lighthouse, which was built in 1910, and learn about its history and importance in guiding ships on Lake Superior. The park also offers several hiking trails with stunning views of the lake and surrounding wilderness as well as campsites along the lakeshore. 

Tettegouche State Park offers scenic vistas, multi-use, four season trails and a variety of rock climbing opportunities. If you’re up for a challenging hike, make sure you don’t miss the hike up to the top of Palisade Head, a sheer cliff overlooking the lake. At the top, hikers are rewarded with sweeping views of the shoreline and surrounding wilderness.

Just off Highway 61 is the Oberg Mountain Loop. This 2.3 mile loop provides gorgeous views of the shoreline as well as the Sawtooth Mountains. However, the highlight of the hike is the stunning view of Oberg Lake. The view is gorgeous year round, but the colors of the surrounding forest are truly spectacular in the fall. 

If you're interested in history, be sure to visit Grand Portage National Monument. This site, run by the National Park Service, is dedicated to preserving the history of the fur trade in the Great Lakes region. Visitors can tour a reconstructed fur trading post, watch demonstrations of traditional crafts and skills, and learn about the Ojibwe people who lived in the area. While you are in the area, be sure to go see the High Falls at Grand Portage State Park. The water here plummets 120 feet, making them the highest falls in Minnesota. 

No trip to the North Shore would be complete without a visit to one of the area's charming towns. Silver Bay is located in the middle of several parks. The taconite mill in Silver Bay draws in many large iron ore tankers making ship spotting a fun activity. Silver Bay is also home to Black Beach, a black sand beach that resulted from taconite residue from the nearby plant. 

Grand Marais is a picturesque village with a thriving arts scene. The town's harbor is home to several fishing boats, and visitors can watch the daily catch being brought in. In the summer, the town hosts the Grand Marais Arts Festival, which draws artists and visitors from around the region.

The Minnesota North Shore is a unique and beautiful region with a variety of attractions for visitors to enjoy. It is a spectacular way to explore nature, history and culture without venturing too far from home!

  • Split Rock Lighthouse
  • Gooseberry Falls
  • Grand Portage National Monument
  • Palisade Head along the Lake Superior Shoreline
  • View from Oberg Mountain Trail
  • The High Falls at Grand Portage
  • Grand Marais Harbor