Natural Wanders - Minnesota’s North Shore a beautiful adventure in any season

Art Weber

        It was one of the most unusual wake-up calls in one of the most unique accommodations we’ve ever enjoyed.
        When we went to bed, we’d left the blinds open on the huge picture window at the foot of our bed. We were in the little Beach House at northern Minnesota’s Grand Superior Lodge overlooking Lake Superior.
        It’s Minnesota’s North Shore and it’s stunningly beautiful. Big cliffs, huge natural areas that are home to moose and wolves, all overlooking Lake Superior, the biggest and wildest of the Great Lakes. It’s a wonderful adventure in any season, including winter.
        Even though winter sets in cold and heavy that far north, locals and those who choose to join them embrace it. Faced with lots of snow and ice they embrace it; drill holes through it to fish; snowmobile, snowshoe and ski over it, even make stuff with it. Sometimes it’s a bar, like the ice bar at Grand Superior Lodge.
        Birders flock to the North Shore for wintering northern species that fill out life lists – great gray owls, northern hawk owls, snow buntings, pine and evening grosbeaks, redpolls, black-backed woodpeckers, three-toed-woodpeckers and more. Mammals are welcome sightings, too – snowshoe hares, weasels, mink, fisher and some favorite big mammals like moose, wolves. There’s also a chance to see lynx.
        A very scenic highway – North Shore Scenic Drive – hugs the coast from Duluth eastward to the Canadian border at Grand Portage. In those 151 miles, there are eight state parks, wild rivers roaring through cascades and over waterfalls, three scenic lighthouses, dozens of trails, uncounted scenic overlooks, a delightful smattering of small Scandinavian-flavored towns, great restaurants, and lodging ranging from comfortable to luxurious.
        For something really different, there’s the little Beach House. It’s on our very short list of wonderfully different accommodations that we’d go back to in an instant if the chance arises.
        Beach is a misnomer. It’s on the lake all right. Right on the lake. Almost in the lake. Waves lap at the structure’s foundation.
        But there’s no beach. No sand beach that is. The Beach House is anchored on good solid miles-deep ancient lava – just like virtually all the North Shore.
        Though it’s small – it’s ideal and ideally romantic for two people -- and virtually immersed in Lake Superior in a region that’s still wildly beautiful, the Beach House has no shortage of amenities. The checklist includes queen bed, fireplace, whirlpool, kitchenette and internet.
        There are also some unique amenities. Especially the fire ring.  No firewood? No problem. Call the lodge desk and before you know it there’s a pile of seasoned hardwood ready to go.
        As darkness falls, the lake settles and light fades. The flicker flames and warmth of the fire is perfect as the air chills. Stars – more stars than most people have seen – appear.
        Perfect. And so was the dawn view over the lake through that big picture window.
        When we first stirred, the sky was fire red, a photogenic sunrise. Our second look a few minutes later was a double take. “What the heck is that?” was our initial reaction.
        Then the realization.
        It was a lake freighter, so close to shore that it filled the window view.
        Minnesota’s North Shore is different in a very special way.
        For more information, look up Two Harbors CVB at Superior Shores is another excellent accommodation near Two Harbors. Look for them at, and Grand Superior at www.Grand


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