Scenic drives

Jay Cooke re-opens after June flood
October 22, 2012 by Andrew Slade

Jay Cooke re-opens after June flood

After the floodJay Cooke State Park is one of the great recreational assets of the North Shore area. I feature it in every book I've written. It's got great ski trails, a terrific campground, and miles of diverse hiking.But since the June flood, the park has been completely closed. All of the major roads leading into the park were severely damaged. Even the iconic Swinging Bridge over the St. Louis River was half-destroyed. As the salty old Mainer would say, "You can't get they-uh from hee-uh." Today, the park reopened to the public, but just in part. Of the three … read more


North Shore fall colors on Twitter: Let’s have a hashtag!
September 17, 2012 by Andrew Slade

North Shore fall colors on Twitter: Let’s have a hashtag!

Twitter is this huge and powerful online media tool. For a company that has a bird for its logo and a bird song for its main product (tweets), you'd think there might be a lot of nature stuff on the site. There isn't. The most popular topics, the "trending" topics, are celebrities, sports and political gaffes, not bird migration or wildflower blooms. Let's use Twitter to follow the amazing show of North Shore fall colors. To do that, we need a "hashtag". I'm suggesting this one: #fallcolors.I do a lot of tweeting. Here's my Twitter page. Sign up to follow me … read more


Fireweed: The End is Near
July 29, 2012 by Andrew Slade

Fireweed: The End is Near

Fireweed is blooming along the North Shore. I love the bright colors and proud stance of this native flower, but I know that its appearance means we're at the peak of summer. Fireweed says, "Get going, this summer ain't gonna last."Here are a few fun facts about Fireweed: Although it's best known for pioneering new territory after a fire, it is also very common along newly-built roads. The pictures in this blog post are from the new scenic pull-out off Highway 61 by Split Rock. In my experience, fireweed shows up in abundance on new roadsides in the second and third … read more


Check out the new wayside at Split Rock
October 26, 2011 by Andrew Slade

Check out the new wayside at Split Rock

If you've driven on the North Shore this summer, you surely experienced the traffic back ups for construction in the Split Rock area. MnDOT completed a two-year-long project straightening out Highway 61 just west of the Lighthouse. The new highway is gorgeous, wide and fast.The new highway alignment runs about 200 yards away from one of the North Shore's most distinct wayside rests, a classic pull-off with a great view of Split Rock Lighthouse and the open waters of Lake Superior. For the traveler dedicated to enjoying Lake Superior, this is a great change. Follow the spanking new blue "Wayside Rest" … read more


North Shore colors: Remember the Superior National Forest
September 30, 2011 by Andrew Slade

North Shore colors: Remember the Superior National Forest

Oberg Lake and the Superior National Forest from the Oberg Mountain Trail, September 2009 This weekend will be one of the busiest and most beautiful of the year on the North Shore, as the autumn color show is at its peak and the weather forecast is fine. While thousands will head for the state parks, those in the know will head for the Superior National Forest...whether they know it or not. Most of the Superior Hiking Trail east of Tofte is in the Superior National Forest. Favorite fall color hikes like Oberg and Leveaux mountains are in the National Forest, and … read more


A little bit about lupines
June 27, 2011 by Andrew Slade

A little bit about lupines

It's lupine season on the North Shore. The fields of blue flowers along Highway 61 rival the golds and yellows of fall for the best colors along the scenic drive. Many people I ask tell me that the lupines are their favorite North Shore flowers...even though the flowers aren't native. I guess that makes the lupine like a lot of us: outsiders who have tried to fit in and make the North Shore a little better for everyone. As you enjoy these towers of flowers, here's a few fun facts to add to your enjoyment: "Lupine", as any decent fan of Harry … read more


Tough times for Two Harbors’ Jacques
February 21, 2011 by Andrew Slade

Tough times for Two Harbors’ Jacques

Jacques the giant roadside voyageur stood for years next to the Voyageur Motel along the Two Harbors strip. Now he lies in pieces next to the Earthwood restaurant, just a few yards off the Highway 61 expressway west of town.  Back in town, his boots had been literally frozen to the ground. His head wobbled as the new owners tried to move him, and Jacques was literally decapitated in order to save him. When I drove by the other day, the head was still nowhere to be seen. But the new restaurant owners have big plans to put Jacques back together, … read more


Miss North Shore, please come home
January 14, 2011 by Andrew Slade

Miss North Shore, please come home

What is the North Shore? What does it mean to live there? And...can saying you live here make it true? The Lake County News Chronicle reported on a case of mistaken North Shore identity. The four contestents for the title of Miss North Shore listed their homes as Silver Bay, Two Harbors...and "Scenic Highway 61." The eventual winner, Caitlyn Thompson, was the person from the scenic highway. After some consideration by authorities, however, it was decided that Ms. Thompson did not actually live on the North Shore. She lives in a Twin Cities suburb, Vadnais Heights.View Larger MapMs. Thompson's family has … read more


Snow buntings
October 25, 2010 by Andrew Slade

Snow buntings

Driving from Ely to the North Shore yesterday, I was stunned and thrilled by the flocks of snow buntings rising from the road as we passed. Photos were simply impossible, since we were going at least 60 mph and the birds popped up without warning. But the beauty of the flock in flight, the flashing of dozens of white wings, called out for something, somehow, to capture it.Maybe some snow bunting simile?Half-burnt aspen leaves, caught in the updraft, rise and dance from the burn pile.Snowflakes scatter from the road, up and out and away, only there is no snowstorm. Snow … read more


Fall colors: get off the highway
October 1, 2010 by Andrew Slade

Fall colors: get off the highway

North Shore fall color fans know that there are typically two different peak times for the autumn spectacle. First the maple trees in the inland ridges turn ablaze. Then, two or three weeks later, the birch along Highway 61 change to gold.The tourism boosters don't want you to hear this: those two color peaks are happening at one time. And, compared to other years, Highway 61 fall colors are not all that great.After experiencing an early spring, the trees by Lake Superior must be ready to hang it up for the year. Along Highway 61, the aspens are in burnished … read more