On Trail in Minnesota

Plan the Trip
By GORP Staff
  |  Gorp.com
Snowshoes allow you to take the winter woods at your own pace; their popularity is booming.
Yet another snow-top conveyance.
Gateway Towns
There are really only two jumping-off points for silent sport-type activities in northern Minnesota. One is Ely, an old Northwoods mining town with very rustic appeal. It's buried deep in the middle of nowhere, and is the staging area for trips into the southern and western portions of the BWCAW . Grand Marais is the other jumping-off point. Set on the shore of Lake Superior, Grand Marais feels much more like an East Coast village on the ocean. It's something of an artist community and has a bit more polish than Ely. Grand Marais is also at the end of the North Shore Corridor , which has a number of gorgeous golf courses and the best ski resort in the Midwest (Lutsen Mountains), so there are other kinds of recreation available. Grand Marais feels a bit more cosmopolitan, if you can attribute that word to northern Minnesota. Grand Marais is also the gateway to the 52-mile Gunflint Trail , which slices through the Boundary Waters and dead-ends in the wilderness. All of these places are gorgeous. See GORP's Minnesota Links for Ely and Grand Marais contact information.

Getting There

By Car: The most direct route to Ely from Minneapolis is to take I-35 through Duluth, follow US 53 to Virginia, and then follow MN 169 and MN 1 to Ely. A more scenic route to Ely from Duluth is to follow US 61 up the North Shore, then at Illgen City follow MN 1 northwest to Ely through Superior National Forest. To get to Grand Marais, just continue north on US 61. It's about a five-hour drive from Minneapolis to Grand Marais.

By Plane: The closest airport is Duluth International; Northwest Airlines offers daily flights.

About the Author: Freelance writer Stephanie Gregory recently moved back to Minnesota from Santa Fe, New Mexico. Tired of brilliant sunshine and the mesmerizing Sangre de Cristo Mountains, she wanted to be closer to the Mall of America. When not shopping for Minnesota Vikings curios, Stephanie ice fishes, snowmobiles, and watches Fargo reruns. She is a regular contributor to Outside Magazine.


Sign up to Away's Travel Insider

Preview newsletter »