Call it the little basecamp with big-city flair. With a busy downtown area wrapped around a restored waterfront, Duluth is sometimes described as cosmopolitan, European, and Middle American all at the same time. Lying on the shores of Lake Superior, just a hop away from Boundary Waters, the city offers visitors miles of rocky shoreline, gardens, and antique shops, and boasts the beginning of the famous scenic North Shore Drive, which runs north to the Canadian border.
It's ground zero for paddlers: Tucked into the Vermillion Range of Superior National Forest, quiet Ely's proximity to the paddling routes and wilderness of Boundary Waters makes it the ideal stop for outdoor enthusiasts. But its appeal doesn't end there. Ely is chock-full of outdoorsy resorts and artist enclaves.
Tucked into the state's northeastern-most corner, Grand Marias is a quiet harbor town that sits among the dramatic Sawtooth Mountains. The town is the perfect basecamp for exploration in this corner of Minnesota wilderness. Grand Marias is home to the beginning of the famed Gunflint Trail, neighbor to Grand Portage National Monument, and doorway to Superior National Forest and thousands of acres of lush forest and clear lakes.
Sitting at the midpoint of the Minnesota-Ontario border, the International Falls area serves as a gateway to both Superior NF and Voyageurs. There's a little bit for everyone here with clear lakes ideal for fishing, public lands ideal for paddling and hiking, and museums that delve into the area's Native American past and natural history.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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