The Northern Lights have been active in Cook County lately and we have seen beautiful photos from people who were lucky enough to witness them! Experiencing the Northern Lights is a bucket list item for most people and for good reason, they are truly sensational. However, it should be mentioned that they can be quite difficult to predict and they don’t always appear even when they are forecasted. While you can do as much as possible to prepare, you still may miss them.
The good news is that there is still plenty of natural beauty to be found above. Cook County has some of the darkest skies in the country, allowing for incredible viewing of the stars, planets and galaxy. Last year, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (located just 20 miles from Bluefin) was designated a dark sky sanctuary by the International Dark Sky Association. It is one of only 13 such sanctuaries around the world.
Bluefin Bay is also an ideal location to watch the moon rise out of Lake Superior. If you have ever witnessed a full moon shine out across on a large body of water, you know how spectacular it can be. The peninsula that the Bluefin Grille sits on offers an expansive view of the eastern sky where the moonrise occurs. Moon phases are also much easier to plan a trip around, as you know where and when they will occur.
So remember – even if you miss the solar storm, you can still be awed by the visibility of the solar system at Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts.
Plan Your Superior Spring Break
Can you believe that it’s already time to begin thinking about Spring Break? It’s true. This year it will be important to book early and plan ahead as much as possible. The good news is that the best days of winter are ahead of us! Late February and March are some of the sunniest, snowiest days on the North Shore and we are ready.
For the winter adventure seekers, the trail conditions will be in prime shape. Spend a day downhill skiing at Lutsen Mountains. Snowshoe the Superior Hiking Trail or the Onion River Canyon. Maybe try cross country skiing, if you’ve never done it. The added sunshine and warmer temps make Spring an optimal time to try out new winter activities. Remember, we have complimentary snowshoes and cross country skis available for guest use!
For those that could use a relaxing getaway, we’ve got you covered. At Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts, the indoors have just as much to offer as the outdoors. Enjoy expansive Lake Superior views from your unit, a cozy crackling fireplace, or a massage at Waves of Superior Spa.
And don’t forget about our guided tours, ice rinks, pool areas and restaurants! There is so much to do when you stay at Bluefin Bay, Surfside or Temperance Landing. You can be as busy as you want to be. We have extended stay offers to help you take advantage of it all so book your Spring Break trip today!
Lutsen Mountains Conditions Update
Despite the warmer temperatures, we’ve been seeing optimal skiing conditions at Lutsen Mountains so far this year. The ski hill received 4 inches of fresh powder on Sunday and there’s more on the way this Thursday. Combine that with their extensive snowmaking efforts and you’ve got an ideal winter for hitting the slopes!
Photos in this blog post are all from this past Sunday and as you can see, it was beautiful! Click here to view the Lutsen Mountains live cam and see what it looks like right now. Note- this information is current as of February 3rd, but be sure to check here for the most recent updates from Lutsen Mountains.
Lutsen Mountains currently has the following stats:
All 4 mountains are open
6/8 lifts are running
58/62 primary runs open
2/33 side country runs open
The warm weather has been a treat lately but it looks like temperatures will be dipping down a bit as we head further into February. Preparation is key to making the most of your adventure while ensuring safety. If you’d like to double check that you have everything you need, Visit Cook County has created a winter packing check list that we have found to be helpful. Remember, there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing!
Cross Country Ski Trails Update
It’s been an interesting winter so far in Cook County! We received plenty of snow early in the season and then went a little while without any new snow. Lately we’ve been getting a bit of snow here and there, but not the usual 2 feet snowstorms that we have gotten used to expecting in January.
Overall, the cross country ski trails are in excellent condition. The time period where we didn’t get new snow allowed for the trails to set up really nicely. The downhills can be a bit icy though so be careful! We received 3″ of new snowfall on January 24th and that has helped quite a bit. All trail systems in the area are groomed regularly. The Sugarbush Trail system, which is located nearest to the resort, is reporting phenomenal conditions. The Norpine Trail reports also indicate excellent conditions, but they are suggesting that because of the lack of snow down by the lake, the further away you can get from Lake Superior, the better.
Did you know that there are more than 400 km of cross country trails in Cook County? The trails in Grand Marais and up the Gunflint Trail are magnificent! To see conditions for all trails in Cook County, click here.
All of this information (and the photo below) is current as of January 27th. For consistently updated trail conditions reports, click here. You can also check out SkinnySki.com, which features firsthand trail reports.
**Reminder: Make sure to have a proper ski pass for whatever trail you are using. Trails in the Tofte area require the MN Ski Pass, which can be purchased at Bluefin Bay Guest Services. For maps and location information, click here or visit us the Activities Desk at Guest Services.
The Norpine Fat Bike Classic is a fat tire biking event and being that it takes place in the middle of January, it is not for the faint hearted. There are two distances to choose between: a shorter 14-mile course and a longer 20-mile course. It costs $50 to sign up and the registration fee includes a membership to the Norpine Trail Association, entry into a prize drawing (which includes a two night stay at Bluefin Bay!), a bag lunch and some swag.
What’s different this year? With Covid-19, the event has been reimagined. Rather than a one day event, bikers will be able to ride the course anytime between January 23rd-31st. Riders are expected to be prepared with necessary repair equipment as the ride will not have aide stations on the course. You can register here.
If you have a Fat Tire bike and can’t make it during those dates, fear not. There are fat tire biking trails in the area that you can ride on all winter. Check out this map to see where you can ride, and be sure to purchase a trail pass!
Know Before You Go: Grand Marais
If you’ve visited Bluefin Bay then you have likely made a trip to the quaint, nearby harbor town of Grand Marais. It’s about 25 miles north of Bluefin Bay on Highway 61. The town is known for its cute shops, art galleries, live music, yummy restaurants and the harbor itself.
A trip to Grand Marais looks a bit different in the winter and even more different during Covid-19, so we wanted to make sure to let you know what to expect. We’ll start by saying that most businesses are open and we definitely recommend you go.
Next, go hungry and plan to shop! There are many tasty restaurants in Grand Marais. Whether you are looking for tacos, a brewery, pizza and burgers or just a good cup of coffee, you will find great options for meals in town. There are also wonderful art galleries and gift shops in Grand Marais and most are open year-round. It’s important to support small businesses this year and Grand Marais has many.
Lastly, we would recommend that you plan some time to go see the lighthouse. The lighthouse in the Grand Marais harbor is absolutely iconic and it’s the perfect spot for a photo op. We recommend heading out just before sunset. Be careful though! It can get pretty icy in the winter. If the walk to the lighthouse isn’t safe, you can still see across the harbor from the coast guard parking lot.
Final note. If you are reading this blog post and Covid-19 is over, we have to tell you about one more thing. Grand Marais is home to two of the coolest institutions: North House Folk School and the Grand Marais Art Colony. Plan ahead and sign up for a class or just stop by and say hi. The folks here are some of the kindest, most creative people you will ever meet! Both places host fun events, too!
We hope you find this information helpful in planning your next trip to Grand Marais.
Know Before You Go: Lutsen Mountains
Because this winter is a bit different, we thought we’d start a “Know Before You Go” series. As part of this series, we’ll explain what’s open and you need to know…before you go.
This week we wanted to chat about the biggest winter attraction in the area, Lutsen Mountains. Please note that this information is current as of today, December 30th 2020, but that it is changing all the time. For the most updated information, check out Lutsen Mountains website here.
Here is what you need to know before you go to Lutsen Mountains:
Buy Tickets in Advance. Lutsen Mountains has implemented daily capacity limits. This means that busy days will sell out. You can combine lodging and lift tickets by booking a Ski and Stay package or if you would like to stay longer and ski less, book your lift tickets separately from your lodging. You are required to purchase lift tickets and sign your waiver online and then you can pick up your tickets at the Gondola Base ticket office.
Use Your Car as your Basecamp. Because of the current guidelines in Minnesota, the restaurants at the Ski Hill are only open for takeout dining and bathrooms. This means you will be wanting to use your car to warm up and eat meals.
Arrive Together, Ride Together. Stick with your household on lifts. Guests are asked to self-group and load the lifts with their traveling party. Masks and 6 feet of social distancing are required when in lines and on the lifts.
The Rental Shop is Open. You are required to fill out rental forms online in advance and there are capacity limits for the building, so be sure to arrive early!
Other Information that’s Good to Know:
Bathrooms are open
Ski and Snowboard lessons are available
Outdoor seating is allowed with up to 4 people per table, from the same household
The holiday break is a popular time to stay at Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts. Because of that, we wanted to make it easy for our guests to find all of the information they need on dining, activities, etc. so we have compiled it all here for you! If you are visiting us this week, know that we are grateful you are choosing to spend this time with us and we look forward to welcoming you.
Bluefin Grille will be closed on Christmas Eve and open on Christmas Day for takeout from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. That means that Bluefin Grille will be serving breakfast on Christmas Day (!) for the first time since before the pandemic. Following Christmas, Bluefin Grille will be open for takeout December 26 – December 31st from 2 – 9 p.m.
Coho will be closed on Christmas Day and open on Christmas Eve from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Following Christmas, Coho Café will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
We’ll be having a Gingerbread House Making Contest for Christmas! Kits will be available for pickup on December 24th, while supplies last. Turn in your houses by 12:30pm on December 26th to be entered to win. First place receives a $50 gift card! Note that we do have limited quantities so first come, first served and only one kit per family please.
Our Activities Crew was able to bring back guided excursions last week, limited to 3 households. This means that we have some tours available, but they fill up quickly! Check out the available tours here.
We will also have available:
Ice Rinks (and ice skates) at Bluefin Bay and Surfside
Cross Country Skis – As of now, the trails are not groomed but that may change with the latest snowfall so check in with the activities staff when you arrive if this is something you are looking to do
Waves of Superior Spa
The Spa is open for massage appointments! Give them a call at 218-663-6888 to check availability.
The Winter Fishwrapper is Here!
Here on the North Shore, we received a few early snowfalls that had us dreaming about winter back in October! Now we can finally say winter is here. Lutsen Mountains ski area is open, lakes are freezing over and we’ve got some lasting snow a few miles inland from Lake Superior. Pretty soon our ice rink will be up and running and we’ll have snowshoes and cross country skis available for guest use. We like to help you plan your winter vacations by publishing our semi-annual newsletter – The Fishwrapper. It’s a great way to get inspired and this year, it will help you plan for any changes on the North Shore.
See Mother Nature Dance – Cross the Northern Lights off your Bucket List
Tips for a Healthy and Safe Winter Getaway
What to Expect at Lutsen Mountains this Winter
A New Ownership Duo for Our Beloved Resorts – Meet the New Owners!
Favorite Socially Distanced Activities
Grab a warm cup of coffee, snuggle up and enjoy!
Winter Activities Update
A couple of weeks ago we did a blog post on what to expect for winter activities at Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts. With the new guidelines from the state of Minnesota, some of the activities have evolved a bit so we wanted to provide an update. Rest assured, there will still be PLENTY to do this winter and our activities team is really looking forward to being your local guide to the North Shore. We have the inside scoop so don’t hesitate to stop by and ask about trail conditions, where to go to see a moose or how the skiing is at Lutsen Mountains. In fact, we encourage you to try and stump the crew with a really difficult question about the area ?
Rather than physically being present with you, we have decided to create adventure packs for our guests so that you can go on self-guided excursions. In this way, we can still “guide” you on your hike, we just won’t actually be there with you. The packs will be available around December 10th and will include things like laminated trail maps and trail activities. What do we mean by trail activities? Think bonfire hike materials, forest ecology information, animal track bingo, winter tree identification information. Basically any of the fun, interesting tidbits we typically provide on guided hikes, we’ll give to you!
Use of Equipment
The convenient part of these guidelines being during the winter season is that we are already set up in a self-serve way with all of our equipment. Snowshoes, Cross Country Skis and Ice Skates have always been available to our guests during the winter, and that will be true again this year. We do need a bit more snow before we’ll begin making these items available so think snow! We are hoping the ice rink will be ready in a couple weeks as long as the weather remains cold.
If you read our last blog post, you know we had added two new craft activities that we were excited about. We went back to the drawing board and we’ll be introducing activities that you can do on your own or as a family. This will include medallion hunts (we had the first one on Thanksgiving weekend!), scavenger hunts and other family challenges. If you have ideas on these, let us know! We are always open to hearing guests’ suggestions. If the guidelines continue longer than currently forecasted, we’ll look in to more virtual activities like zoom yoga and online craft classes.
If you have any questions about our new activities or have any ideas for us, please give us a call at 218-663-7860. And remember – there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.