Just north of downtown Duluth, Interstate 35 ends and becomes Minnesota Route 61 that hugs the northwest coast of Lake Superior, all the way to the Canadian border. Providing spectacular and ever-changing views of the lake, this road also yields access to a chain of State Parks, most of which surround rivers that rise in the hill country to the west and rumble down to Lake Superior.
A few of these Parks deserve special mention. Gooseberry River State Park, a few miles north of Two Harbors, is accessed by an excellent network of trails that lead past a series of beautiful waterfalls, lead out to cliff-top views of the lake and river valley or take the visitor down to the rocky shore. Temperance River State Park, just north of Taconic Harbor, provides spectacular evidence of the erosive force of moving water; this turbulent stream has cut a deep, rugged gorge through the Precambrian volcanic bedrock, producing waterfalls, whirlpools and polished rock formations. Just shy of the Canadian border, Grand Portage State Park, stretching along the Pigeon River, provides access to Pigeon River Falls, the highest waterfall in Minnesota (120 feet). Finally, a scenic rest-stop, a few miles north of the town of Grand Portage, offers an awe-inspiring view of Lake Superior, its coastal hills, the offshore Susie Islands and the distant silhouette of Isle Royale, stretching across the northeastern horizon.
While towns, marinas, resorts and industrial ports are also spaced along Superior's Northwest Coast, they do not begin to detract from its fabulous natural landscape and the abundance of State Parks, State Forests and dedicated Wilderness could keep any naturalist entertained for months, if not years. Our only regret is that we had too little time to explore that scenic wonderland.