The North Shore & Our Epic Waterfall Roadtrip

Gooseberry Falls, MN

This is another one of our “happy places” in 2016 that deserves its fair recognition. We visited the North Shore over a weekend in June and had one of the most remarkable day-trips of the year.

Highlights of 2016: #3  Lake Superior’s North Shore, Minnesota

Yes, there is a North Shore in Minnesota! Last spring we learned that we would need to visit Indiana over the summer, for some warranty work on our fifth wheel. Once the trip was scheduled, I began to research our route and the sights we would see along the way. One evening, on a Pinterest binge, I found a photo of a waterfall in Minnesota. What??? Waterfalls in Minnesota! This caused me to realize that I knew very little about the state. After routing our travel to Detroit Lakes (you can read my post on how we discovered this small town HERE), we headed north, propelled by my desire to have an EPIC WATERFALL ROADTRIP.

I armed myself with some helpful info, which you can find on this Only In Your State post HERE.

We found a spot on the shore of Lake Superior, near the Knife River and made this our home base for a couple of nights. We really only had one day to tour the North Shore. If you have more time, it would be even better! I think a week exploring the North Shore and camping in some of the state parks would be wonderful!

That Saturday morning we rose fairly early and packed lunches and snacks for the day. We knew we would be covering a fair amount of distance and I had read that aside from a couple of towns, there was no place to stop for supplies. With three kids, I did not want to be without snacks and water. Armed with food and cameras, we hit the road for our Epic  Drive and Waterfall Tour on June 11, 2016…


The drive was super easy. You can take Highway 61 all the way up to the Canadian border and back. We had actually intended to bring our passports so we could cross over…but this mommy kind of forgot them. Oops!

We really only saw a small portion of the waterfalls up there, but it was enough to make this trip epic for all five of us. If you are able to stay and linger…and plan some longer hikes, I am certain that it will pay off with some spectacular views. This entire area is gorgeous!

Gooseberry Falls

Our first stop was Gooseberry Falls. This is an easy walk from the parking lot, so consequently it was significantly more crowded than many of the other areas that we visited. It is a beautiful walk though, and a very easy stop off of the highway. This would be an easy visit for someone who has a more difficult time hiking or walking on uneven ground. We saw children and grandparents of every age here that day.


High Falls

These falls are located in Tettegouche State Park.


In order to get to the falls, you will need to hike. It is not a challenging hike, but it is not a walk. You will need proper boots/foot gear. As it had rained that week, parts of the trail were quite muddy and I remember wishing that we had grabbed our hiking boots (another thing that we forgot!). This is a much lengthier visit, so you will need at least an hour or two. Unless your small children are hikers…or you have a backpack for them, this may not be the right hike for your family. We saw a large group literally carrying an umbrella stroller over a mile and another carrying toddlers…I do not believe that any of them made it to the falls.. However, it is not challenging either. You will  will need to cross a small tension bridge though.


We brought a small cooler bag with our lunch and a picnic blanket, but due to the length of the hike, I would recommend carrying it in a backpack. Our picnic site at the base of the falls was lovely. We were thrilled that very few hikers visited our spot while we were there.


After this beautiful stop, we continued north. Along the highway, we simply pulled over and saw this little beauty…literally along the sidewalk near the road.

Cross River Falls

I just love how gorgeous this drive is. Check out this sweet pic of my honey and the kids admiring the falls…


Temperance River Falls


This was another easy pullover, however you will need to walk down some stairs and a short path. The payoff with this stop…a gorgeous view of Lake Superior.



This is a great place to really “see” the bronze color of the water. We were surprised to learn about the high ore content in the lake…and that we could literally see it in the water.


We continued the drive up to the town of Grand Marais. This town is adorable. A perfect stop to explore, shop and grab a snack. If we ever get to do this trek again, I would stop here for the night, fish (not me…but my boys!), shop and have a nice dinner. We enjoyed walking around, had a snack and drinks on the rooftop patio at Voyageur Brewing Company and window shopped a bit before heading back south.

Grand Marais, MN

On our way back to camp, we made one last waterfall stop at Cascade Falls. This stop is very easy to miss. We actually passed it and the hubby had to back track a short distance. Its a nondescript pullover on the side of the road, so you will need to use your GPS.

Cascade Falls

This is a short mini-hike up to the falls. What a beautiful stop it was! I loved hanging back and watching my crew scramble some rocks and explore this pretty little area.




Along our way home we found this public rest stop. And yes…it is photo worthy as my maiden name is Berglund. Apparently Ray was a well respected conservationist in Minnesota…for a brief moment…I almost felt famous.


And finally, we stopped for the super-sized Adirondack chair photo opp….


In the end, this was an amazing one-day adventure. Being a girl from California…I am still blown away by all the beauty we found in Minnesota. I just had no clue that this all existed. Honestly, in the two years of our fulltime travel I have only found one other family that has explored this same area. You can read about Heather’s family adventure to the North Shore on her blog at 4 Radical Roadschoolers and a Fat Cat HERE.

I loved our adventures in Minnesota. What a fascinating place this was to explore in the summer. Note that I said summer. As I write this, sitting in Florida, I glanced at my weather app to see that it is 11 degrees on the North Shore tonight with snow showers this week. I don’t think I will be visiting in the winter anytime soon.

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