These wild and remote lands that stretch wide open across Northern Minnesota’s tip of the Arrowhead fill our hearts. Beauty shines and evolves from season to season…a vast gift to take in, appreciating and trying to comprehend the depth of what all this beloved and sacred spanse of Superior shoreline and forest has meant to many, for many generations through centuries of time.
The appreciation of the lands and waters, the gratitude for the livelihood and foods, the friends and the families that surround us is evident in this wondrous Minnesota destination at the heart of the Grand Portage Reservation.
Driving East on Highway 61 past Grand Marais by 30 miles or so and just south of the international U.S.-Canadian border, discover the timeless Grand Portage beauty everywhere you look.
And, plan to stay awhile. In fact, if you’re near to Grand Portage National Park this Monday, January 15, 2018, entry fees are waived. Not like anyone needs an excuse to get out and explore more, but wow…one of four “free days” on the National Park Service’s 2018 calendar happens to land on the birthday of legendary Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Over the years on various adventures we’ve visited Grand Portage State Park, Grand Portage National Monument and even the honorable Grand Portage Rendezvous Days, sponsored by Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa (Ojibwe).
While at the state park, explore raging falls from the Pigeon River and spot surprising rainbows. Stroll along the accessible people- and pooch-friendly pathways. Take in the towering pines and pristine vistas. Pack a picnic. Watch for wildlife. And, so much more…
The 120-foot falls at Pigeon River are the highest in Minnesota and an overlook to view the rushing water cascading over the carved cliffs is quite accessible taking the half-mile paved walking trail. There’s a staircase to two different viewing decks which are not accessible for wheelchairs and may require a bit of parent help for younger hikers or those who may need a steady hand. Here’s a round-up of other top recreational activities, curated by the Park staff including a longer hike to the Middle Falls, which rewards visitors with a spectacular view of Lake Superior. It’s on the 2018 bucket list!
The Reservation rests on a historic fur trade site with spectacular views of Lake Superior and. The name Grand Portage dates back to the fur trading era. The Ojibwe named the nine-mile stretch, or portage pathway, to skirt the Pigeon River falls when transporting pelts to the North West Company trading post, which is part of the National Monument. Here the fort structures have stood the test of time, offering a glimpse at life during the fur trading era. This Minnesota Historical Society site features useful background, reading and photographs. If you’re feeling lucky, pop over to Grand Portage Casino and Resort. There’s also an RV/camping area and marina. Or, if more trekking is in order try Mt. Josephine, a rugged 2.5-mile hike that rewards adventurers with breathtaking vistas of Gitche Gumee, aka Lake Superior.
During the Rendezvous Days event, we were able to take in the revered Powwow festivities tour the Historic Depot, including log-built and stone structures from the fur trading days. There’s a great hall, kitchen and canoe storage structure. The monument also hosts interactive exhibits to share what life was like hundreds of years ago at the Ojibwe village and encampment areas. For much more on how to plan your visit, click here.
And, after all that “grand” adventure, it may be time to nap, dreaming of these wide open spaces all the way home.
If you love something – or everything – about this pristine Reservation, please share ❤
Road Trip: Grand Portage was first published on FromLutsenWithLove.com on January 13, 2017. All opinions, photographs and experiences are my own.