AAA Editor Notes
North Shore Scenic Drive extends from Duluth to Thunder Bay, Ontario. Minnesota's North Shore offers things found nowhere else in the Midwest—a backdrop of mountains and utterly unspoiled wilderness, to name just two. This exhilarating drive along SR 61 follows Lake Superior's shoreline for more than 150 miles to the Minnesota/Ontario border, then continues another 40 or so miles to Thunder Bay.
The beaches and cliffs edging the lake are breathtaking in their wild beauty. The rugged, glacier-carved Sawtooth Mountains border the North Shore, while Superior National Forest's aspens, birches and pines cloak the landscape in a sea of green. Countless rivers and rushing streams empty into the lake, creating an abundance of waterfalls in their wake. This is some of the most invigorating scenery in the country.
Obviously the outdoor recreation opportunities are legion; hiking, biking, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, sailing, kayaking and charter fishing are all outstanding. Palisade Head (at milepost 57 on SR 61, about 3 miles east of Silver Bay) is an especially dramatic rock formation where bird watchers scan the skies for bald eagles, hawks and other raptors and day visitors go wild blueberry picking. Wildlife observers hike Superior National Forest in search of the plentiful but elusive moose.
Landmarks include Split Rock Lighthouse, ensconced at the top of a sheer rocky cliff almost 150 feet above Superior's steel-blue waters; it's one of several lighthouses that once guided ships. Other scenic and historic highlights along the way are Gooseberry Falls State Park, Two Harbors Light Station, Tettegouche State Park and Grand Portage National Monument. In addition, numerous pullouts allow motorists to stop and capture a serene summer sunset, white-capped waves whipped up by a stiff wind or fall foliage colors.
Note: North Shore Drive is a spring-through-fall sightseeing destination; severe winter weather makes driving a dicey proposition.