Grand Portage National Monument

We had an extra day in Grand Portage, MN. I planned on sewing for most of the day but before that we made the short drive to Grand Portage National Monument. This is a reproduction of one of the largest and busiest Forts during the fur trade. We saw a lot of similar Forts when we were in Canada but still enjoyed this visit. The “living history” was excellent and the movie was by far one of the best we’ve experienced at a National Park or National Monument.

The birch bark canoe was key to the fur trade – sturdy but lightweight so you could carry it where there was no navigable water. 

One of the obstacles included the Pigeon River Falls. One of the interpreters suggested we visit the falls and we did the next morning (despite that it meant driving in the wrong direction for six miles but it really shouldn’t matter considering we’ve already driven more than 3,000 miles and not gotten very far across the country!)

The volunteers and rangers at the National Monument were all very enthusiastic and knowledgeable.

This National Monument is jointly operated with the local tribe, the Ojibwa, and is on the Reservation. It all works well since the Fort and fur trade were very important to the Ojibwa people for a long time until the Fort operations were moved north after the border between the US and Britain was set at the Pigeon River.

We continued South along the Lake Superior shoreline and made a brief stop at Grand Marais. It was a lovely little village where we planned on lunch at the Subway but it turns out that it was closed on Sunday! Yes, closed! We had to eat lunch in the trailer of the Subway parking lot. 

Next stop: Soudan Mine

Gooseberry Falls and Split Rock Lighthouse

These are both iconic stops along the Northshore Scenic Byway and the number of tourists out in the rain and wind to see them told you this even if you hadn’t read it in a travel brochure.

Before we hit the road to cover the remaining 120 miles to Grand Portage, we made a stop at the Railroad Museum in Two Harbors. It was a nice stop with a lot of historic items about the community. We didn’t stick around to watch the two hours of movies, though!

First stop on the Scenic Byway was a Scenic Overlook just behind where they built a tunnel in the 90’s because the road was a little too treacherous and difficult to maintain. The view was magnificent even in the wind and rain.

The weather wasn’t getting any better but we stopped at Gooseberry Falls anyway. It was just a short walk to see the first three falls and the interesting bridge that spans the river. We headed to Upper Falls first.

You could walk up the path a little further and cross over the water on the bridge or under it. This just meant that I had photos of the falls from different vantage points and couldn’t decide which I liked better so you get to experience both.

From below you could turn around and see the bridge. 

The next two falls were also beautiful.

We got to enjoy them with a hundred of our closest friends. It is actually amazing that I got any pictures without other people in them.

Next stop was the Split Rock Lighthouse (INSERT WIKILINK). We took a short guided tour and it was excellent. (Shout out to Brandi!) 

They let you climb the tower to see the Fresnel Lense in action.

All the machinery from 1914 was still functioning and beautifully crafted. 

This stop was also crowded despite the brutal weather but we were rewarded for walking down to the beach where very few others ventured to go. This is supposedly the most photographed lighthouse in the world and you can see why. (I took a lot of pictures and couldn’t decide which I liked best.) The Lighthouse Keepers have been encouraging visitors to stop since the 1930’s when the Scenic Byway was completed.

We also got to see a little wildlife along the way back to the top.

If the weather had been nicer, we probably would have stopped at the other State Parks and done some hiking but instead we only made one more stop at a picnic area for a quick break. By now, it was really storming and the Lake had ocean waves.


Since I’ve disclosed my stair obsession, I might as well just keep sharing the photos. (The stairs down were actually better made out of rock but it was too cold to go back for a photo. )

We kept driving (with one quilt shop stop) figuring we would spend our extra day in Grand Portage going to Thunder Bay, Canada but after we got here it turns out we probably didn’t need an extra day because Grand Portage ONLY has the casino. We will make a quick stop at Grand Portage National Monument but it looks like I may have gotten an unscheduled sew day.

Next Up: Isle Royale National Park

Did I say there were falls?

Double Falls
Finally, this is the last of the waterfall pictures from Silver Falls. It turns out that having all these pictures was a good thing or I wouldn’t of had any photos to post. I only took a few quick shots with my phone while we played tourist in Portland.

Lower North Falls

We are getting back on the road today – to Olympic National Park. We will stay in two different areas there. The first is along the coast and it looks pretty remote so I may not post for a few days.

We will be in Seattle after Memorial Day and then after stops in Spokane and Calgary before meeting up with Brian and Will in Edmonton around June 12 – 14.

Lower South Falls

Miles Hiked on the Trail of Ten Falls: 12
Total Miles Hiked: 33

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