Road Trip to Grand Marais – Minnesota

by Steve Moon on June 25, 2013

400pxPalisade_Shovel_Point_croppedThe Minneapolis to Grand Marais and the Gunflint Trail road trip is under 5 hours, that is if you are in a hurry! Plan on leaving early and soak up all there is to see in 9 hours, then cool your brakes in Grand Marais by 6 pm.

Start by taking I-35 North out of Minneapolis for approximately 130 miles thru West Duluth then Duluth to MN-61 and follow the North Shore. The final 110 mile stretch, is just that, a stretch.  Plan your stops to “stretch” and take it all in.

Here are a few “stretchable” stops!

  • Gooseberry Falls located 13 miles northeast of Two Harbors
  • Splitrock Lighthouse State Park is located between Two Harbors and Silver Bay
  • Tettegouche State Park is located immediately northeast of Silver Bay. Palisade Head is a large rock formation on the North Shore of Lake Superior. It is within Tettegouche State Park near milepost 57 in Beaver Bay, approximately 54 miles northeast of Duluth and three miles east of Silver Bay
  • Lutsen is the largest and highest mountains in mid America. In the winters lifts can take you to double black diamond ski runs as well as some fantastic mountain biking in the non winter months.
  • Temperance River State Park is located immediately northeast of Schroeder.
  • Cascade River State Park, located between Lutsen and Grand Marais


Grand Marais.  Now that you have made it to this wonderful small town you may need to treat yourself to some local food and a refreshing drink. The Gunflint Tavern will fill you up with a dish to include wild rice and a respectable selection of craft beers. The Tavern is in a prime location to view the activities on 1st street and to take in a relaxing view of Lake Superior form its large picture window or from their roof top tables.

National Geographic Explorer listed Grand Marais as “one of the top 50 must-see places in the world” and has considered it a Top 50 place to live in America.

There are year-round attractions, with a focus of an active and attractive lifestyle. You can find what invigorates you within a short drive or paddle.

Take your pick of outdoor activities:

  • Canoeing and kayaking the most visited wilderness area in the United States, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW).
  • Mountain Biking The Gitchi-Gami Trail is a great option for families to bike together, and the vistas of Lake Superior are stunning. When the whole trail is complete, it will
    connect five state parks, four scientific natural areas, many historic sites and
    several communities.
  • Hiking the Superior Hiking trail that Backpacker Magazine named the trail one of the nation’s “10 prime trails that leave all others in the dust”. It can be hiked in segments or as a long distance hike.
  • Build a kayak at North House Folk School or challenge yourself and your kayak techniques in the open waters of Lake Superior.
  • Maybe birding is your thing! Cook County is blessed with birds! A total of 155 species (give or take a few) breed in Superior National Forest. In 2001, those three million acres were designated a Globally Important Bird Area. The variety of forest and terrain, including deciduous and conifer forest, bogs, streams and lakes, create a huge range in habitat. Add the very large body of water represented by Lake Superior to the mix, and you can understand why spring and fall migrations are times of especially rewarding birding.
  • Snowmobiling, horseback riding, art and cultural events. The list goes on!

Whatever your activity of choice, the town’s friendly residents and outfitters are ready to guide you and provide you with the appropriate equipment rentals. Grand Marais prides itself on providing kid-friendly activities that the entire family can enjoy.

The Gunflint Trail and the The Superior National Forest are your doorstep with many options, so pack a bag and enjoy, but remember the popular saying in Grand Marais is, “There is no bad weather here–just bad clothing and gear.”




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