One of my favorite places in the world is the North Shore of Minnesota on Lake Superior, the largest fresh water lake in the world (by surface area). This lake is pretty impressive with it’s islands, rocky shores, and incredibly deep waters. Not only is it incredibly beautiful, but it dates back to the early history of earth, about 4.5 billion to 540 million years ago. Magma forced its way to the surface creating intrusive granite that made up the North Shore. The area was laden with minerals and valuable metals that were deposited during a process that created the Great Lakes Tectonic Zone. The mountains then steadily eroded depositing sediments that compacted and became limestone, dolostone, taconite, and shale. There were several other processes that took place changing the landscape that then led to the Wisconsin Glaciation about 10,000 years ago when ice covered the region at a thickness of 1.25 miles. The shape of the land was created by the advance and retreat of the ice sheet. (Information obtained from Wikipedia)
The average temperature of this giant body of water is around 45 degrees, and people actually swim here. I remember when my sister and I were young we would have contests of who could lay in the water the longest, we didn’t go very deep because it was just too cold. We rarely made it past 10 seconds. My mom, my sister, and I came here almost every summer on vacation to camp in the state parks along the shore and spend the days hiking. You can walk for miles and miles along the shore across all the large rocks. In between massive rock formations there are rocky beaches for relaxing and soaking up the sun. Lake Superior always has a breeze, kind of like the ocean, so sometimes you need a light jacket even in the sun. In the summer temperatures are normally in the 70’s, but sometimes don’t get above 60. There have been days in the summer, middle of July, when it was 45 degrees and poured rain. We would be stuck in the tent playing cards, reading, and napping. My family loves the outdoors, so we would get a hike in campsite. There is a parking lot for your car and hand carts to put all of your stuff in. The campsite is then about 1/4 of a mile away from the parking lot, has port-a-potties and sometimes steep (and often slightly dangerous) trails leading down to rocky beaches.
The North Shore isn’t just for those who want good hiking and some beach time, there are all sorts of extreme sports taking place throughout the parks. People rock climb, surf (yes, that is correct), white water raft, and some are brave enough to sailboard. We just happened to look over the edge of this cliff and see this guy climbing. When I was young I was a very brave soul, not much scared me and I wanted to try climbing. Needless to say, as I got older I realized all the things that could go wrong and I haven’t been climbing in a long time.
We usually stay at Tettegouche State Park or Split Rock Lighthouse State Park as they are closest to Duluth and the shortest drive. Gooseberry Falls State Park is also another good one, if the area got a lot of rain in the spring it can be particularly fun because the falls will be very full. All of the State Park’s have regular campsites where you park next to your site with full service bathrooms including showers. They also have their cart in sites where you hike in to your site. In the summer all of these campgrounds get packed, and I mean PACKED. If you don’t reserve a spot or get there on a Thursday during June, July, and August you will most likely not get a campsite. There are national forests near by for those who can’t find a site, but they are more primitive and tend to only have outhouses. However, if you prefer more privacy and less of a crowd the national forest or a cart in site are your best options.