He chose this stretch of road for good reason, it represents the best of Minnesota in so many ways. The North Shore drive along Lake Superior is the most scenic stretch of road in Minnesota and possibly the entire Midwest.
What’s It Like?
Most of Highway 61 is two-lane road, going through the center of many small towns and resort areas while remaining close to the big lake and offering many views of the crystal clear blue water.
You’re likely to see one of many 1,000-foot ore carriers, as they motor slowly up and down the lake headed to and from Duluth, Two Harbors, Taconite Harbor and a number of other ports — destined to take on loads of Taconite pellets headed to the Steel Mills out east.
RVers can get up close to see the Taconite loading process at Two Harbors where there is a fishing pier extending out into the harbor. Access is free and there is plenty of parking for any size rig.
You may even see a Salty or two, headed in with a number of huge windmill blades stacked on its deck. Large wind generator towers are transported from Europe to be assembled in regions west of Minnesota. Arriving at the Port Terminal in Duluth, the 100-foot plus long blades are transferred to special semi trucks to wind their way through the center of the city on their way west. Imagine getting a picture of one of those rigs passing by.
Where To Stay
Private resorts, and campgrounds cover the shore of Lake Superior heading north. Along the Scenic Highway coming out of Duluth and running parallel to the main highway, you will find one RV resort after another.
The list of campgrounds is long and varied. Be sure to call ahead and make reservations to be assured of getting a spot at the RV resort of your choice.
We spent a week at Lamb’s Resort a few years back when we lived in Texas and came north for a summer trip. Located in Schroeder, they have beautifully secluded sites above the lake shore. An evening bonfire on the shore is a must. Be forewarned, when the sun sets you’ll need a sweater or jacket. There’s no such thing as a hot steamy night when you’re right by Lake Superior.
Definitely Worth A Visit
You’ll pass some state parks as you head north (actually northeast) toward Canada. My favorite is Gooseberry State Park north of Two Harbors. Gooseberry Falls is a beautiful sight and there are many hiking trails to enjoy, as well. The campground at the park is very woodsy and complete including an interpretive center with staff giving talks about local flora and fauna. As a youngster, I camped there with my family on numerous occasions. You may even get a chance to see a bear, as they’re pretty common in the area.
Split Rock Lighthouse, just south of Silver Bay, is a restored and maintained Coast Guard station that still has the complete light station in place, and it’s open for tours. They have a great gift shop where you can get many kinds of souvenirs.
Gift shops and souvenir shops dot the landscape all the way from Duluth to Canada. Tom’s Logging Camp has displays of logging methods back in the late 1800’s with gifts to match. Every town has little shops and displays to honor their particular heritage. Antique and collectible shops are numerous along the route, too.
Smoked fish shops are common, as fishing has been a big part of the economy in the area for almost 200 years. Nothing tastes better than a meal of brown sugar smoked salmon and some cheese and crackers. Maybe a bit of wine would be nice, too.
Every scenic turn along Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 is stocked with picnic tables. Or, you can have an impromptu meal right down on the lake shore. Just spread out a blanket and make yourself comfortable. You can even stop in Two Harbors at Betty’s Pies and get a slice of your favorite for desert.
Other Interesting Things About Highway 61
One of my most interesting experiences happened on my daily commute during a year that I worked in the mining industry in Silver Bay, about 60 miles north of Duluth. I picked up a young couple that were hitchhiking up the shore ( local slang for along the highway). They had traveled all the way from New Zealand just to hitchhike the Highway 61 made famous in Bob Dylan’s song, Highway 61 Revisited. We had a very enjoyable visit, as I delivered them about an hour’s worth of their journey. I dropped them off in Beaver Bay and headed on to Mile Post 7, the facility where Taconite tailings were disposed back in the 70’s.
Whether you have an interest in the history of iron ore mining and shipping or logging, back when the White Pine was king… or, maybe commercial fishing and the generations of families who still fish the Big Lake is in your background… all the trades that helped establish this part of the country a few hundred years back are well represented. Top that off with the most spectacular scenery in this part of the country, and you’ve got yourself one heck of an interesting trip.
If this sounds like fun RVing, maybe you’re up for the Lake Superior Circle Tour, a well-marked highway tour going completely around Lake Superior. You can experience the Canadian part of Lake Superior, cross the locks at Sault Ste. Marie, then come around through Wisconsin.
Looking for a good RV destination? Give Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 a look see. You won’t be disappointed. You might even hear our hometown favorite, Bob Dylan, on the radio as you head north along the shores of Lake Superior.
I’ve been involved in RVing for over 40 yrs — including camping, building, repairing, and even selling RVs. I’ve owned, used, and repaired almost every class and style of RV ever made. I do all of my own repair work. My other interests include cooking at home, living with an aging dog, and dealing with diabetic issues. If you can combine a grease monkey with a computer geek, throw in a touch of information nut and organization freak, combined with a little bit of storyteller, you’ve got a good idea of who I am.