Imagine driving through a tunnel of orange, red, and yellow leaves on a dirt road in the middle of the forest. There’s nothing quite like it. Below are a few of our favorite Fall Color Drives.
Caution: Always take a paper map with you when driving through the woods in our area. Cell phone service is non-existent on most of these roads. Many of these roads are used as snowmobile trails in the winter, so do not drive on them once snow has fallen.
1. Honeymoon Trail – Start at the Caribou Trail (County Road 4) just north of Lutsen off Highway 61. Wind past Caribou Lake and take Forest Road 164 (Honeymoon Trail) to the left.
When you come to the Sawbill Trail (County Road 2), turn left and return to Highway 61 at Tofte.
2. 6 Hundred Road & Temperance River Road – Start at the Sawbill Trail (County Road 2) and head north about 5 miles. Take a left at the 6 Hundred Road. Here you will find the stunningly beautiful Heartbreak Hill. Continue through the forest and take a left at Temperance River Road.
3. Gunflint Trail – The Gunflint Trail is a paved, scenic byway that winds 58 miles into the wilderness. The route begins in Grand Marais, where you’ll take Highway 61 through the town and then take a left onto the Gunflint Trail. You can take the Gunflint Trail as far as you want. Drive slowly as many moose call the Gunflint Trail home.
4. Grand Portage – As soon as the colors begin changing down by Lake Superior, we recommend a drive to Grand Portage. This stretch of the highway is beautiful, truly showcasing Lake Superior on one side and the Sawtooth Mountains on the other. Grand Portage State Park is home to High Falls, the tallest waterfall in Minnesota. The trail to the waterfall is paved and accessible and would make for a great spot to stretch your legs before getting back into the car.
Local Craft Classes
There’s something about the Autumn season that awakens the artist in all of us. The colorful leaves all around and the chill in the air bring out our creative side. At Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts, we embrace that inspiration with local craft classes.
The classes below are completely free for guests staying at Bluefin Bay, Surfside and Temperance Landing. Space is limited so be sure to reserve your spot by clicking on the links below. No artistic experience is necessary for any of these classes and all supplies are provided.
Classes at 10:30 am and 1:30 pm. The Carolina Snowflake is simple to make and useful as a Christmas tree top ornament or a decorative wall hanging. Jane specializes in basketry utilizing a variety of materials such as birch bark, red osier dogwood and rattan reed.
This workshop is from 12:30 – 4 pm and you can drop in any time! No sign-up necessary. Learn how to dye your own silk scarf and take it home with you! The workshop includes a brief introduction to the dyeing method. You’ll then pick your colors and design, and go to work.
Fall Color FAQs
It may seem a bit early to be thinking about the vibrant red, pumpkin orange and lively yellow leaves that will soon be spread across our shoreline. Fall is notorious for being one of the best seasons to visit the North Shore of Lake Superior and because of that, lodging at Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts tends to fill up quickly. If you’re hoping to visit us for this glorious season, read over the FAQs below and book your stay as soon as you can!
Fall Color FAQs
When is the best time to see the Fall Colors? Each year varies but typically the best time is mid-September through mid-October. September is when the maple trees change which brings the brilliant reds and oranges. Towards October is when the birch and aspen trees change, highlighting the forest in golden yellows.
What are the best hikes to see Fall Colors? Some of our favorite local hikes include Oberg Mountain, Lake Agnes and Carlton Peak. See the full list here.
What activities are happening at Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts in the Fall? Resort activities including guided hikes, bike and hike tours, fall color kayaking, wilderness canoeing, kids adventure club, art activities, campfire & s’mores and more. Check out our activities calendar here.
Are there any specials or discounts? During peak fall colors, the best discount is our internet savings offer, which you can receive for booking your stay online. We begin our Gales 3 for 2 Special after MEA weekend on October 22nd, which offers 3 nights for the price of 2.
Beware the Gales of November
November has arrived! And with it, Storm Season. While November is a quieter time of year on the North Shore in terms of visitors, it is Lake Superior’s loudest season.
In late Fall, low-pressure systems pass over Lake Superior which result in stronger winds. The winds, sometimes called “Nor’easters” can reach up to 50 miles per hour, with gusts up to 100 miles per hour. These wind patterns can result in large waves on our Great Lake, known as the Gales of November. The highest recorded wave on Lake Superior is 28.8 feet, although unofficial wave heights are believed to have exceeded 40 feet.
Thanks to Gordon Lightfoot, many have heard of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. But Lake Superior has claimed hundreds of ships into her cool depths. Another notable shipwreck event occurred on November 28th, 1905 when the Mataafa Storm caused 29 vessels to sink or be seriously damaged. One of those vessels was the 478-foot iron ore carrier William Edenborn, which was towing the 436-foot barge Madeira. The large waves caused the towline to part around 3 a.m. and the unpowered Madeira crashed into the shoreline. Around the same time, the Edenborn was whooshed into the mouth of the Split Rock River. The carrier was split in two. Luckily, the Edna G. provided life saving services to both crews and only 2 seamen lost their lives. That storm led to the construction of Split Rock Lighthouse, which was completed in 1910.
And if you have not had the opportunity to discover this memorable season for yourself, consider visiting us this year! Stay 3 nights and take advantage of our Gales of November offer for a free night on us.
A Season of Contrasts
The closing of MEA weekend always brings about a feeling of a new season on the North Shore. It represents a quieter time with stormy, sometimes tumultuous weather. There is a cold chill in the air as we all recognize winter knocking on our door. It is also a time when we lower our nightly lodging rates and begin our Gales 3 for 2 offer. When you stay three nights or more at any of our resorts – Bluefin Bay, Surfside or Temperance Landing – receive one of those nights (midweek night) completely free!
We hear from many of our return guests that it’s their favorite time of year to visit Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts. They appreciate the peaceful, calm feeling around the area. These days, that sense of tranquility is more attractive than ever before.
In contrast to the serene atmosphere around the resort, the Great Lake tends to kick things up a notch this time of year. In late Fall, low-pressure systems pass over Lake Superior which result in stronger winds. Sometimes they can reach up to 50 miles per hour, with gusts up to 100 miles per hour. These wind patterns can result in large waves on our Great Lake, known as the Gales of November. The Gales are notorious and they are truly a sight to be seen, heard and felt. Combine fewer crowds with lower rates plus the potential for a dramatic display on Lake Superior and you have one exceptional season.
Fall Color Report: October 6 – Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts
For this week’s Fall Color report, we couldn’t resist telling you about the delightful scene at our different properties: Bluefin Bay, Surfside on Lake Superior and Temperance Landing on Lake Superior. The DNR’s Fall Color map shows that the North Shore area is past peak, but near the lake the leaves tend to hang around a bit longer than they do inland. It makes for a magnificent view from the guest rooms, pool areas and Bluefin Grille. The dark blue of Lake Superior is the perfect contrast against the yellows and golds. We also begin to see a bit more wave action in October on the big lake. Here are updates from all 3 of our resorts.
Whether you select a stunning lakeside suite, multi-bedroom condo, or a guestroom overlooking the ancient Sawtooth Mountains, you’ll get a front row seat to one of nature’s greatest shows. At Bluefin Bay, we bring you closer to the lake, and to each other.
Dramatic angles, vaulted pine ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows, vast expanses of glass, in-suite fireplaces, double whirlpool tubs, glass and tile showers, and more balconies and patios than any other resort on Minnesota’s North Shore – are all right here waiting for you.
There is perhaps nothing as warm and inviting as a log home for escape from our hectic, fast-paced lives. Place it on Lake Superior’s North Shore and you’ve got the perfect destination for family vacations, a couples’ retreat or friends’ getaway.
This will be our last Fall Color report for 2020. We’ve received questions from guests wondering if the colors changed earlier this year than usual. The answer is yes! You can view maps from previous years on the DNR’s fall color page on their website, which we found to be very interesting!
Fall Color Report: September 29 – Britton Peak
We are due for an update as the color has shifted quite a bit since last week’s Fall Color Report. We had some rain over the weekend and the maple canopy is beginning to come down. On a happier note, the Birch and Aspen trees are totally at peak right now. This means that the drive to the North Shore is breathtaking. It also means that any of the hiking trails closer to the lake are lit up with golden hues. Think Carlton Peak, Tettegouche State Park, Palisade Head, Lookout Mountain and today’s choice, Britton Peak.
This is the overlook from our hike at Britton Peak. Britton Peak is a swift vertical climb that offers sweeping views of Lake Superior and Carlton Peak. It’s perfect if you are looking for something quick and close to Bluefin Bay as it’s less than 3 miles away.
The perspective from the hiking trail is exquisite. The undergrowth is changing and the forest floor is covered in vibrant leaves. The little bit of rain also permeated the woods with the delicious scents of Fall.
It’s an extraordinary season on the North Shore. We all wish that Mother Nature would extend it, but it doesn’t look like that will happen this year. Stay tuned for next week – we’ll update you on the fall colors at the different properties that make up Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts!
Fall Color Report: September 22 – Oberg Mountain
We are kicking off Fall Color reporting with our favorite destination for this time of year, Oberg Mountain. We tagged along with the Activities Crew as they ventured out on their tour on Saturday and boy are we glad we did! As of today, the DNR is currently reporting our region to be in the 25-50% range.
It’s always a challenge to predict the peak colors on the North Shore. As many of you probably know, it happens in two distinct phases. First, the maples come ablaze with bright red and brilliant orange leaves. Secondly, the aspen and birch present their golden glory. Some argue there is a third phase when the tamarack trees begin to change, which usually occurs in late October or even early November.
We are very much in that first peak now and Oberg was a fantastic spot to view the colors. The maple trees are beautiful both from the ground and from the overlooks. The birch and aspen have just begun changing and have a little ways to go. The good news is that we don’t have any storms predicted in the forecast, which should help the leaves to hang on a bit longer this year.
If you are coming to stay with us this Fall, be sure to check the activities schedule in advance. We have guided hikes, bike & hikes, fall color kayaking and wilderness canoeing. All of these activities are designed to get our guests outside exploring the most colorful season on the North Shore.
Fall Color Report: September 23rd Leveaux Mountain Hike
Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts Fall Color Report: 50-80% Fall Colors. We’re reporting about 50% fall colors by Lake Superior with 80% a few miles inland.
We went on a hiking adventure to Leveuax Mountain to check out the fall colors. This hike provides panoramic views of the inland hills, Lake Superior, and southwest views of the Sawtooth Mountains. Because of this, we knew this hike would be perfect for viewing the color change difference between areas farther inland and areas closer to the shoreline of Lake Superior. The inland maples are just about at peak creating a stunning blanket of oranges and reds on the rolling hills. The birch trees have barely started to change color, and in some spots have yet to change color at all. Their yellows and golds will take over the landscape in the next couple of weeks. Closer to the lake, there is only about 50% color change but we should see a big change in the next week and a half.
The Leveaux Mountain Hike is one of our many complimentary guided hikes offered to resort guests. The distance of this hike is 3.4 miles and considered moderate in difficulty due to the length and a few short but steep climbs. The views are worth it! The trail follows a ridge through old-growth cedar and red pine forests rising 1,000 feet above the lake.
From the gallery below you can see how the trees went from mostly green toward the bottom of the trail, and areas closer to the lake, to mostly fall color as you look inland from the top. We felt like we were traveling through different ends of the autumn season in one hike!
Fall Color Report: September 16th – Color Tour AND Family Fun at Lutsen Mountains!
Photo: Sept 15, 2019
Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts Fall Color Report: 25% Fall Colors. We are reporting little color change by Lake Superior with more fall colors peeking through 1-2 miles inland.
Experience more fall fun on Minnesota’s North Shore with a trip up to Lutsen Mountains. It’s less than a 10-minute drive from Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts and offers fun for the whole family!
Lutsen Mountains is located a couple of miles inland from Lake Superior. On our Fall Color Report adventure this past weekend we hiked along the trails winding through this area and spotted some beautiful Fall colors starting along the top of the ridgelines.
The Summit Express Gondola is one of our favorite ways to view the fall colors. You’ll travel above the treetops heading up 1,000 feet to the top of Moose Mountain with views of the autumn colors, Lake Superior, and the Sawtooth Mountains. Hop out at the Summit Chalet for breathtaking views, scenic overlooks, and hiking trails.
For those looking to add a long hike to their Lutsen Mountains experience, we recommend heading out on the Superior Hiking Trail starting from the end of the road that runs past the main ski area. This 4.5-mile hike winds across the Poplar River and around the back of Mystery and Moose Mountain through forests of cedar, brightly colored maple and aspen. In addition, this hike ends at the top of Moose Mountain where you can purchase a ticket and head back via the gondola – a sweet way to end a rewarding hiking adventure! The Summit Express Gondola is open daily through October 20.
The Alpine Slide is perfect for those looking for a few thrills during their fall color tour. One of the best parts of this activity is the chairlift ride to the top of Eagle Mountain. Sit back and enjoy a unique view of the fall beauty. Then, zip down a 1/2 mile track on your sled! Your trip can be fast and thrilling or slow and easy. This one is a family favorite! The Alpine Slide is open weekends through October 20.