Sep 21, 2015

Highway 61 Weekend Road Trip

For Labor Day weekend this year Kirk and I decided to take another trip up to the North Shore. When we were up there we found a book called "61 Gems on Highway 61" and decided to visit as many as possible in one day.  Our goal going into it was to make it all the way up to Temeperence River State Park which is about 100 miles from where we were staying in Jay Cooke State Park.

We woke up on Saturday Morning, had a quick breakfast and made it to Duluth, the start of highway 61, by 9 A.M. and we were off on our one day road trip. We made it to 16 stops but only up to Tettegouche State Park (80 miles from Jay Cooke). Here are all of the stops we made!

01) Pierre the Voyageur - Two Harbors, MN

 02) Two Harbor Trains - Two Harbors, MN

 03) Edna G. Tugboat - Two Harbors, MN

 04) Crusader II - Two Harbors, MN

05) Lookout Point Trail Head - Two Harbors, MN
The start of this little trail led to a great view of Lake Superior that had a lot of rocks to climb on. There was a really strong cold wind when we were out there!

06) Breakwall - Two Harbors, MN

From the Look Out Point we had a really good view of the breakwall and were lucky enough to see a large ship coming in!

07) Flood Bay - Two Harbors

Flood Bay is just past Two Harbors and was a really great place to stop for rock hunting! Kirk and I love trying to find cool rocks from all of our camping trips so this was a lot of fun for us.

08) Silver Cliff Tunnel and Overlook Point - Two Harbors, MN

This was one of my favorite spots mainly because I love driving through this tunnel! The road just drives right through a massive cliff but it used to run on the path that we are standing on in the second photo. The view wasn't as great as the book made it seem mainly because it was extremely foggy when we were out and the plants on the edge of the cliff were really tall and hard to see around. Still a great place to stop and stretch your legs!

09) Gooseberry Falls State Park - 13 Miles NE of Two Harbors, MN
The first of the State Park stops of this trip! The photos below aren't from our trip this year but from last year. When we tried to stop there on our trip this year the park was so busy we couldn't even find parking! We decided to skip it this time since it's a park we've been to before.

This state park offers great hiking, camping, views of superior, and has a lot of history stops throughout the park. This isn't one I've camped at before but a lot of their site are reservable and they have a few first come first served sites as well. I always suggest reserving a site if you know you'll be camping just to be safe. Plus, you can usually see photos of each site before you reserve so you can choose one that looks best to you!

10) Split Rock River - 18 Miles NE of Two Harbors, MN

 A cool underpass that led to this tiny little beach

This beach had a cool mix of gray and pink rocks.

One of my favorite rocks I found here - a mix of the gray and pink.

11) Split Rock Lighthouse State Park
The second state park on the road trip!

There is a rocky beach behind the campsites at this park which had a great view of the lighthouse. It's a little hard to see in this photo but it's definitely a location to check out. We saw a lot of people kayaking in this bay which seemed to have a little bit of calmer waters since it was tucked away.

A little more than half of the campsites here are reservable so once again, I would reserve if you plan on camping here! This state park is great for fishing, rock skipping, and hiking! It's also located next to the Gitchi-Gami State Trail which is a huge paved biking trail that connects Two Harbors, MN and Grand Marais, MN. It's not all paved yet but over 29 miles are!

In this state park there is also a Minnesota Historical Society location which is the lighthouse! Since it's not actually apart of the state park it is an extra cost to visit but it's worth it to go! You learn all about the history of the lighthouse and the use of the lake as a shipping lake and can even go up into the top of the lighthouse. There are a few walking paths connected to the site that bring you down to the water and where I was able to get the second photo. 

12) Silver Bay Marina - Silver Bay, MN

The Silver Bay Marina is a great place to get out and stretch your legs and have lunch. You can see all the sail boats and even adventure out to an island that has a lot of large boulders leading to it.

13) Rocky Taconite - Silver Bay, MN

This guy is the mascot for the local taconite company and just fun to take a picture with :)

14) Black Beach - Silver Bay, MN
This was one of my favorite stops of the trip! It's a beach with black rocks that is tucked away and off the beaten path. The sand leads up to an island that is really easy to climb on and gives great views of the lake. I would highly recommend stopping here!

15) Palisade Head - Silver Bay, MN
This is another stop that I think is a must! You drive up a winding road (which is one lane and a little scary when other cars are coming down) but the view is spectacular!

This is the 300' cliff that shoots right out of Lake Superior.

This photo always makes me laugh because you can tell how hard I am holding on because I was so scared being that close to the edge!

Kirk was brave enought to get a photo looking down the ledge!

16) Tettegouche State Park - Silver Bay, MN
The last state park we made it to on our one day North Shore road trip! This is our favorite state park (so far) in Minnesota! We haven't camped at it yet but we've spent a lot of time here! If camping is full at Tettegouche I suggest checking out Finland State Forest because it's only six miles away and camping is cheaper! It's a state forest so you don't have the amentites of the state park but it's still a great area! Kirk and I stayed here last summer and loved it!

One of the main attractions at Tettegouch State Park is the High Falls! They are absolutely breathtaking! There's a lot of hiking around the area that lead you from the top of the falls, down to the bottom, and even to another area called the Two Step Falls. If you're going to visit I would definitely give yourself plenty of time to explore this park as there is so much to see!

Kirk and I bought new ENO hammocks for this summer's adventures and the bridge across the top of the falls was the perfect place to hang them! This was the last stop of our trip and it was around 5pm by the time we got here so we were exhausted. It felt so good to get off our feet!

 I laid in the hammock most of the time while Kirk worked on some rock sculptures

This is another view from the top of the High Falls that shows the river at the bottom.

Further away from the falls and closer to the park entrance you can explore the area where the river reaches Lake Superior. This is one of the rock sculptures Kirk built last summer when we were here. This is one of my favorite places at the park. I highly suggest investing in a good pair of water shoes or Keens because your feet will get wet and the rocks are very sharp.

It was about 7pm by the time we left Tettegouche State Park and we just didn't have the energy to drive all the way up to Temperance River State Park because it was another 20 miles away! We decided we will plan a trip for another summer and start at Temperance River State Park and make it all the way to the tip of Minnesota!


If you want to buy the book 61 Gems on Highway 61 you can do that here.
It provides all the directions to these locations plus a lot more!
I will be updating this post soon to include directions to all of these sites but I highly recommend buying this book if you are planning on traveling the North Shore!

Let me know what your favorite stops are on the North Shore in the comments below!

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