On The Road: Minnesota North Shore Waterfalls

Nature is amazing. We’re lucky to live in a state that perfectly brings together the city life and great outdoors. Just about three hours north of the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul is the largest lake in the world: Lake Superior. The North Shore, as we call the area around Lake Superior, is a haven for those who want to be one with nature. After many years of living in Minnesota, we finally were able to visit some of the most amazing waterfalls in the state, including the highest falls in Minnesota.

We left Minneapolis at around 7am and were able to visit five different waterfalls of the North Shore in one day. So a day trip is doable, although we suggest spending at least two days to get the chance to visit other waterfalls and/or spend more time at the different waterfalls. There are many reasonably priced lodging options in the North Shore, including campgrounds, motels, cabins, resorts, and hotels.

Gooseberry Falls

We’ve been to Gooseberry Falls multiple times in the past since it’s just a few minutes north of the city of Duluth. It’s easily accessible through just a quick walk from the parking lot and visitor center. In the summertime, the water is low and currents are weak enough that many visitors walk across the river or at least get close to the waterfalls.

High Falls (Tettegouche State Park)

There are two ways to reach the High Falls at the Tettegouche State Park. Visitors can either hike from the Visitor Center all the way to the falls, which is about a 1.5mi hike one way, or cut down the hike distance in half by driving to the furthermost parking lot (ask for directions at the Visitor Center) and hitting the hiking trail from that point. A state park pass is needed to park at the dead end; a day pass for $5 or an annual pass for $25 can be purchased at the Visitor Center. Once at the High Falls, a series of trails gives visitors different fantastic views of both the falls and the surrounding forest. Other waterfalls nearby include Illgen Falls and the smaller Two-Step Falls.

Temperance River Falls

Further north on Highway 61, Temperance River Falls is just right underneath the highway. Past the bridge that goes over the waterfalls is a parking lot and a pathway that leads to great views of the falls and Lake Superior.

Cascades (Cascade River State Park)

The short trail to get to the waterfalls is right next to the highway, pointed out by small signs at the parking lot on the side of the road. Just as the name suggests, the water flows through a series of shorter waterfalls before reaching a higher drop point.

High Falls (Grand Portage State Park)

For our final stop, we headed to the border of Minnesota and Canada (we could see the Border Patrol from the park’s parking lot) to see the highest waterfalls in Minnesota (although shared with Canada). The hike from the park is only about 0.5mi from the parking lot on a paved trail. Once at the falls, be prepared to get splashed a bit especially when standing on the viewing area that’s right next to the waterfalls on a windy Spring day. Across the Pigeon River is already Canada.


  • Visit the Devil’s Kettle, too. It’s about a mile hike from the highway, one way. The water falls into a deep hole on the ground (hence the name) and the water’s exit has been a mystery until just recently.
  • A nice sunny day in the Spring is the best time to visit. Rains and melting ice create high tides and strong currents, which make the heavily gushing falls even more amazing to see.
  • Prepare to do some hiking, which may involve mud especially in the spring time.

Author: Almost Spontaneous

Husband and wife who love to travel wherever and whenever possible. He brings the spontaneity while she brings the foresight. Together, wherever in the world.

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