Minnesota’s Arrowhead with Lake Superior and the Sawtooth Mountains rising 1,000 feet above the coast offers a variety of outdoor activities not often found in the Heartland.
Three of Mid-America’s top snow sports resorts are located here and all take advantage of the unusual mountainous terrain. Lutsen Resort and Lutsen Mountains along the North Shore, Spirit Mountain overlooking Duluth, and Giants Ridge along the Iron Range an hour north of the Queen City, offer a nice escape from summer’s heat in the Lower Midwest
Lutsen Mountains is located off the Arrowhead’s Highway 61, made famous by native son Bob Dylan, who grew up in the area. Its Sawtooth Mountain Park is tucked into the ancient mountain range that borders the North Shore. Unique in the Midwest, it’s a true mountain range born millions of years ago from volcanic uprisings. The park’s rugged terrain and dramatic escarpments are unique for this area of the country.
Hiking trails, including the famed Superior Hiking Trail, run throughout the park. Hike from the village or grab a ride on the mid-continents only gondola to the top of Moose Mountain to begin your trek. An alpine slide offers a half-mile ride down a twisting track from the top of Eagle Mountain. Trails along the Poplar River cascade down the mountainside to Lake Superior to frame beautiful waterfalls. Voyageur Canoe trips on the upper Poplar River take you back to the early days of fur traders when 10-passenger Voyageur canoes transported them through the wilderness and across the Great Lakes. An alpine slide and gondola combo ticket, offering unlimited daily rides, is $30, and a Voyageur Canoe trip is $15 per person.
Lutsen Resort, on the shoreline, dates back to the late 1800s and offers a variety of lodging choices and gourmet cuisine in their lake view dining room. They are offering $20 off new reservations Sunday through Wednesday nights during June. Golf packages at Superior National Golf Course start from $70 per person, per night, based on double occupancy. Golf Digest rates Superior National as one of the top golf courses in the Gopher State.
Stop by Spirit Mountain on the way up north to ride the Timber Twister alpine coaster and Timber Flyer zip-line. The Twister's 3,300-foot track allows you to race down the mountain through the forest in individual coaster cars. Riders can travel alone or in pairs. You control the speed, which can reach up to 26 mph. The Timber Flyer, unlike traditional zip lines, allows you to ride single or double on a bench-like seat secured with safety belts. Both rides pull you back up the hill allowing you to take in scenic panoramic views of Duluth and the Lake Superior harbor spread out below you. Adventure Park single rider tickets are $8 and double rider $12. Ten pack tickets are $60 for multiple rides.
Duluth’s waterfront area makes a wonderful place to grab lunch and explore before heading on north along the Arrowhead or up to the Iron Range.
Head north on Highway 53 to Biwabik, Minnesota’s Iron Range and Giants Ridge, which is considered the state’s top golf resort. Golf Digest ranks both The Quarry and Legend among the top three “Best Public Golf Courses in Minnesota." On a national level, The Quarry ranks 20 and The Legend 72 among "America’s 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses." Carved out of beautiful forest settings the golf courses are some of the most scenic in the Great Lakes region.
Through May early season golf packages start from $77 per person, per night based on double occupancy, midweek and $87 on weekends. June through August 36-hole golf packages, including lunch and lodging, start from $156 midweek, per person, per night, based on double occupancy.
In addition to outstanding golf Giants Ridge offers lots of hiking and mountain biking trails and 90 miles of the paved Mesabi Trail, which connects many small communities in the area, runs right by the resort.
Top photo: Lutsen Resort (familyvacationcritic.com)
Bottom photo: Giants Ridge Golf & Ski Resort (resort photo)