Do you want a winter wonderland vacation? Look no further than Minnesota’s North Shore!
Minnesota’s North Shore of Lake Superior really provides a hidden winter wonderland to travelers willing to brave the harsh cold and frequent snows of Minnesota.
Considered the “off-season,” winter on Minnesota’s North Shore finds many businesses closed for the season, due to lack of tourists. This makes for a wonderful experience for those willing to embrace the cold and venture into the great white North, as many places and opportunities remain open and ready for visitors.
During our recent winter wonderland adventure (we drove from Florida…yes, seriously), we were able to go sledding, hiking (to frozen waterfalls, no less), snowmobiling, skiing, snowboarding, and enjoyed cozy nights by the fire. We could have also gone snowshoeing or ice fishing.
If you’re a winter activities enthusiast, Minnesota’s North Shore provides a truly hidden gem with almost no crowds and plenty to offer!
My favorite experience in this winter wonderland was snowmobiling in the Superior National Forest. We found two businesses that offered snowmobiling, but one was closed for the season (huh? why would you close a snowmobiling business in the winter?). So, we went with the only option available and it was awesome!
Hungry Jack Lodge sits on Hungry Jack Lake about 30 miles from Grand Marais, Minnesota. Just one mile from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, this remote resort provides a welcome respite in the wilderness.
One of the main areas for snowmobilers to get gas, they also rent snowmobiles to tourists, like us.
Hundreds (maybe thousands) of miles of beautifully groomed trails surround Hungry Jack Lodge, including on Hungry Jack Lake. We were a little nervous about getting lost, but the trails were really well marked and we had a blast!
It snowed almost the whole time we were snowmobiling. Giant, fluffy snowflakes added to the beautiful landscape and creating a picturesque winter wonderland.
We did not see a single snowmobile on the trails while running around for over 20 miles and 2-1/2 hours. It was spectacular!
Two snowmobiles, for an all day rental, cost about $460. We thought this was pretty reasonable, as one snowmobile for a couple hours in the Rockies would cost about the same.
Skiing and Snowboarding
Lutsen Mountains, in the very heart of Minnesota’s North Shore, offers the largest ski resort in the Midwest with 95 ski runs, 4 mountains, and 875′ of vertical rise.
We visited Lutsen Mountains twice during our 9 day visit to Minnesota’s North Shore. Neither day was busy, by any stretch. In fact, the first day (a Wednesday), there was almost no one at the ski resort.
Although we didn’t get a chance, Lutsen also rents snowshoes for $15 for 24 hours (in case you want to take a night hike to see the Northern Lights). We thought that was an incredible deal!
Ski lift tickets were $92 per adult and $75 per child under 12, but we went on a Thursday and it was 50% off, so check for deals!
Finding a good, local sledding hill was a must for our winter wonderland adventure. After a visit to the local Cook County CVB, we found one tucked away in the municipal campground and it was great!
We spent many hours on the hill and only once did we encounter other people. A sledding hill, all to ourselves? Yes, please!
We also hiked to two different waterfalls. They were frozen, of course.
There were at least half a dozen more hikes and waterfalls to visit and we just ran out of time. On the two hikes, we encountered exactly one other group of people. Neither one cost us a dime.
Minnesota’s North Shore: A Winter Wonderland
Between the seemingly unlimited activities to keep us occupied, the lack of crowds, and the low cost of everything, Minnesota’s North Shore provided the winter wonderland we could only dream of when planning our snowy winter trip away from the tropical South.
Of course, we could have visited Colorado, Utah, or Whistler for bigger mountains, deeper snow, and better skiing. But, we would have had to fight crowds (we do enough of that at home in Disney), paid two to three times as much, and not had nearly as much FUN!
No one could understand why Floridians would travel to Minnesota’s North Shore in the winter. From all appearances, even Minnesotans don’t visit in the winter. However, it provided an amazing travel adventure to our family. One we won’t soon forget and will likely repeat, next winter.