If Minnesota were to release a greatest hits album, most of the tracks would come from its northeast corner. Tucked in between Lake Superior and the Canadian border are some of the state’s most interesting towns, best museums, oldest historic sites, and the deepest wilderness east of the Mississippi.
The incomparable Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) encompasses the best of the best of Minnesota’s lakes, and if you are even remotely interested in the outdoors you simply must dip a paddle into these enchanting waters at least once in your life.
In contrast to the placid borderland lakes, the waters of the North Shore rage through deep gorges and over massive waterfalls before emptying into Lake Superior. Places like Grand Marais, with its flourishing arts community, and the iconic Split Rock Lighthouse complete the North Shore mosaic.
Duluth, which you’ll inevitably pass through to get almost anywhere else in the Arrowhead, is perfectly pleasant in nearly every way, from its walkable size to its cool and comfortable weather.
Although it is defined by the city-sized scars left behind after more than a century of strip mining, these only serve to make the surprising Iron Range, stretched out across the heart of the Arrowhead, one of the most unusual places in the state.
And spread across most of the region is the 4,680-square-mile Superior National Forest (SNF), which hosts every conceivable outdoor activity and then some. The Arrowhead is the Minnesota you’ve imagined, and—whatever the season—it just doesn’t get any better than this.
© Tim Bewer from Moon Minnesota, 3rd Edition