Minnesota’s North Shore Scenic Drive is a gateway to pristine wilderness, spectacular Lake Superior beaches and endless waterfalls. With over a dozen state parks and waysides along historic Highway 61 in northern Minnesota, one of only 27 designated All-American Roads in the United States, there’s something for everyone to experience.
Hikers, cyclists and sightseers will love spending time outdoors on trails, at viewpoints and seeking waterfalls. When it’s time, head into one of the delightful and charming towns to shop and eat along a route that will transport you to the 1920s, when Highway 61 was still a dirt road winding up the shore. From the harbor of Duluth, one of the world’s farthest inland ports for oceangoing ships, to the ancient “Great Carrying Place” – an ancient transcontinental trading route near the Canadian border – the North Shore Scenic Drive is abundant with history, geology, and plenty of places to explore in any season.
The tour is designed so it can be driven in either direction. If starting out and returning back to Duluth, drive north as far as you can go and time allows, hopefully including a night or two along the way. If time is tight, Grand Marais is a logical turnaround point.
The tour goes the entire way to Grand Portage State Park at the Canadian Border. If you are going out and back, we will talk about all the sights and share the stories on the return trip so you don’t miss a thing.
It’s also a complete tour experience to do the drive in just one direction, north from Duluth and cross the Canadian Border. Or, start in Grand Portage and tour southbound to Duluth.
Duluth, Michigan, from Wisconsin, or Thunder Bay, Canada.
At least one day, but ideally two days.
Total one way driving distance between Duluth, Minnesota and Grand Portage at the Canadian Border is 155 miles.
Minnesota’s North Shore Scenic Drive is a gateway to pristine wilderness, spectacular Lake Superior beaches and endless waterfalls. With over a dozen state parks and waysides along the historic Highway 61 in northern Minnesota and one of only 27 designated All-American Roads in the United States, there’s something for everyone to experience.
Minnesota’s North Shore Scenic Drive along Highway 61 begins in Duluth, Minnesota, at the western edge of Lake Superior, and ends at the United States-Canadian border.
This area of Minnesota is known for its amazing natural beauty, and many travelers prefer to visit the Lake Superior North Shore in the summer months for its warmer weather and access to campgrounds and outdoor activities. Another popular time to visit is in fall from mid-September through October, when the maples and birch burst into color. But if you don’t mind the snow, the North Shore is beautiful during the winter season, with world-class skiing most of the state parks remain open with groomed ski and snowshoe trails available for visitors. Visiting in early spring is a also great time to see many of the waterfalls at their peak when the snow melts.
Without stopping, you can drive from Duluth to the United States-Canadian border in under three hours. But what’s the rush? When driving up from Minneapolis-St. Paul, many visitors stop over in Duluth or Two Harbors for the night, or continue all the way to Grand Marais for a long weekend. If you’d like to visit multiple state parks, give yourself at least two full days to enjoy the North Shore drive and all of the sites along the way.