High Falls Grand Portage State Park with rainbow

Uncover the Secrets of Spring in Northeast Minnesota

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A real-life rainbow over High Falls in Grand Portage State Park

Uncover the Secrets of Spring in Northeast Minnesota

By Minnesota Arrowhead Committee

The snow is melting and warmer temps are on the way, but the lazy days of summer are months away. What’s there to do? Plenty, as it turns out. Learn about the unique pleasures of this in-between season in Northeast Minnesota.

Three men observe the high falls at Tettegouche State Park

At 60 feet high, the High Falls at Tettegouche State Park is the tallest waterfall within Minnesota's state border

Seize the Season

Nothing says spring in Northeast Minnesota like the rushing waterfalls of the North Shore.

Gooseberry Falls State Park, one of the top-visited state parks in Minnesota, features a series of three vast and impressive waterfalls on the Gooseberry River, which then gushes into Lake Superior. Additionally, Tettegouche, Split Rock Lighthouse and George H. Crosby-Manitou state parks, all in Lake County,  deliver rushing falls that won't disappoint.

Farther north on the Canadian border, tumbling over the Sawtooth mountains of Cook County, High Falls in Grand Portage State Park is a sight to behold. At 120 feet, it is the tallest waterfall in Minnesota.

Mountain bikers on Redhead Mountain

Mountain bikers on Redhead Mountain in the Iron Range  / Minnesota Discovery Center

Go Mountain Biking 

Can't wait to hit the trails? Grand Rapids and the Iron Range are home to world-class mountain biking experiences for all skill levels. Tioga, Redhead and Giants Ridge are built on rocky hills and canyons, so they are likely to dry up sooner than other biking areas. As always, check trail conditions before you ride, though.

Cozy lodging and year-round camping are on-tap in these cities, along with nearby breweries, dining and attractions.

In the Superior National Forest of Cook County, explore miles of gravel roads or test out your technical skills on the singletrack Jackpot Trail in Tofte.

Loon swimming with two baby loons on its back.

Hike around Loon Island and you may see Minnesota's state bird at Lake Shetek State Park. / Travis Novitsky

Track Migrating Birds 

Skyline Drive in Proctor is the home of one of the premier spring bird migration sites in North America, with 25,000 raptors and thousands of other birds. The vast expanse of Lake Superior beckons to them below.

On Lake Vermilion, situated in the Superior National Forest and bordering the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, waterfowl abound. Track the return of the loons and many other species from shoreside resorts.

Birch Grove Resort guest Gavin Forrest catches a 24-inch walleye while fishing Lake Kabetogama

Birch Grove Resort guest, Gavin Forrest, catches a 24-inch walleye while fishing Lake Kabetogama / Coopers Gateway General Store

Reel in Walleye All Year Round 

Northeast Minnesota is home to the state's best walleye fishing on the ice or open water. Explore Crane, Vermilion and Rainy lakes for late-season panfishing on the ice or the first catch of the season during the walleye opener in May. Full-service or rustic resorts cater to your every need, and small-town hospitality abounds in the communities of Crane Lake, Tower and International Falls.

As the last area to lose its snow cover, International Falls and Voyageurs National Park might even offer some serene spring snowmobiling for adventurous visitors.

Northern Lights at Voyaguers National Park

See the Northern Lights at Voyaguers National Park in northern Minnesota / Martha Shuff

Look Up at the Northern Lights 

Take an early season paddle in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness near Ely and experience not only the stunning natural beauty of the glacier-carved lakes and forests, but the stars and maybe even the northern lights in the world's largest certified Dark Sky Sanctuary.

A gray wolf rests on a rock at the International Wolf Center

Axl rests on a rock at the International Wolf Center  / International Wolf Center

Shop, Sip and Sup

With local brews, art galleries and unexpected dining, Ely, Two Harbors and Grand Rapids offer opportunities to browse, buy, relax and repeat. For girls' getaways or after a day of hiking, these communities deliver the all the extra amenities you desire, along with attractions including the Reif Performing Arts Center in Grand Rapids, the International Wolf Center in Ely and Split Rock Lighthouse near Two Harbors.

ATV rider rock crawling at the Iron Range OHV Recreation Area in Gilbert

ATV rider rock crawling at the Iron Range OHV Recreation Area in Gilbert

Make Spring Riding Your Thing

Trails for all-terrain vehicles, off-highway motorcycles and off-highway vehicles open at varying times in the north, typically April and May. But some trails are open year-round, including those in the Iron Range Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area, the Northern Traxx Trail, and the Ranger Trail, all on the Iron Range.

To the north, the trails of the Crane Lake area create a network of connections that bring you deep into the woods. Resorts, lodging and camping in both areas keep you close to the trails and area dining. Be sure to check with the Department of Natural Resources for trail closures, licensing and trail pass information before you trailer up.

Hiker on the suspension bridge at Jay Cooke State Park

Hike across the suspension bridge above the St. Louis River at Jay Cooke State Park

Take a Hike

In Proctor, find trailheads for both the spectacular Superior Hiking Trail and the beloved Willard Munger State Trail and head into the North Woods. In nearby Jay Cooke State Park, explore multiple wooded trails and experience the rushing spring rapids of the St. Louis River from the park's iconic swinging bridge.

Minnesota Arrowhead Committee

Minnesota Arrowhead Committee is a coalition of travel/tourism and commerce organizations working together to promote the Arrowhead region of northeast Minnesota as a vacation destination.