A Superior week on Minnesota’s North Shore

There is a scenic drive on Minnesota’s north shore – which follows Lake Superior (actually its west shoreline) for 150 miles.  Within those 150 miles are 7 state parks, and a ferry to a national park.  We saw them all!  After being in the western US, where you can drive more than 150 miles to see sites within the same national park, having a whole week to explore only 150 miles was great.


For an analytical person like myself, having the sites on the road numbered (as in “Duluth – mile 0.0, Gooseberry Falls – mile 39.5”) is awesome.  So darn logical.  Love it!  So, in doing my trip research, everything referred to the mile marker of the places, which made planning (and visualizing distances) a breeze.  Go Minnesota!

We started our trip in Duluth, the largest city on the North Shore (and actually the largest in the whole state north of the Twin Cities).  C had been here once on a business trip and thought it was just ho-hum.  Now, we realize he just wasn’t staying in a very nice area, and just blocks from his hotel was a fantastic, vibrant, scenic harbor (it also helps that it was July and sunny this time – not April and snowing).  Our hotel was right on the harbor, and the boys had a blast playing on the rocks (what I learned about N on this trip is that he loves making his own trail, especially when it involves climbing on rocks).

We also got to see a big barge come in, which meant they had to raise the bridge.

And – guess where the barge was coming from – Delaware!  Oh, Delaware, you tease!  You can manage to send a barge all the way AROUND the country to end up in Duluth, MN, but none of your people can drive a car anywhere near us?  The boys were toying with the idea of that counting as our Delaware license plate, but I’m a purist. Totally not the same thing!

watching the barge come into Duluth Harbor

While in Duluth, we also ate at the famous Grandma’s restaurant, which the marathon is named after.  Apparently a good marathon, mostly downhill, if you are so inclined.   Maybe one day we will be back for C to run it.  With only a day in Duluth before we headed up the shore, we will definitely have to add it to our “revisit” list.

I know the story is getting old, but there was once again “weather” forecasted, so a planned 3-night camping trip turned into just one night at Split Rock Lighthouse State Park.  However, we had that one night scheduled at what may be the most scenic state park campsite on the North Shore. It was a cart-in campsite, which meant that the campsites were pretty far away from each other (and the bathroom 😕 ), so we had lots of privacy and the scenic site to ourselves.

our campsite overlooking Lake Superior and the Split Rock lighthouse
A contemplating life without electronics for 24 hours from our private bench overlooking the lake


After just one brief (but dry!) night camping, we took down the tent and carted it all back to the car before exploring the beach.

The boys loved skipping stones, climbing on rocks and playing “will this float?” with pieces of driftwood with a rock on top.



nature’s teeter-totter

We walked towards the lighthouse, which made a nice backdrop, but we didn’t go in and tour – it was really expensive!


I took this pic the day before – if you are wondering why it is so much brighter than the others

After exploring this small part of the Superior shoreline, we headed a few miles down the road to the most famous of the North Shore state parks – Gooseberry Falls.

IMG_0471 (2)

I knew the boys would like this one – with all of the rocks to climb on across the river, this is a perfect place for climbing kids.

We relaxed and watched the waterfalls while the boys played in the water.


Gooseberry Falls didn’t disappoint!  After Gooseberry Falls, we took a hike at Tettegouche State Park.  It was just okay.  As always, views of Lake Superior are beautiful, but the hike itself was just average.  At this point, we are hardened travelers who require more to get excited! Here is one picture from Tettegouche, and then we will move on. Onwards and up (north) wards!

Posing on the trail at Tettegouche State Park

More North Shore posts to come soon!

One comment

  1. Hey, Clements! Love that ‘Sota post. Again, I’m amazed at what I don’t know and haven’t seen. The pic of A serenely sitting alone and looking out across the water reminds me how few kids ever get to sit alone, undistracted by tv and devices, and just contemplate the beauty around. Oh, I wonder, who will these boys be? Maybe favorite pic ever (and would be ultra cool on my wall in moody black and white), is the one with the boys throwing rocks toward that tiny treed island. Can’t wait to keep reading more! (Oh, and funny about Delaware!)


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