During winters in Minnesota, it is a guarantee that you’ll come into contact with ice in one way or another. In some instances, it can be annoying. But in other ways, it can be awe inspiring. On the North Shore of Lake Superior, ice is something we marvel at. From frozen lakes to ice-covered waterfalls to the small ice sculptures that form on the shorelines of Lake Superior, we find ice to be a magical part of our winter seasons.
Ice forms on Lake Superior every single winter. Some years, like during last year’s mild winter, you can only find it on sheltered sections of the lake. The Grand Marais Harbor and the Duluth/Superior area are common spots where a glaze forms over the Great Lake. Other years, the entire lake freezes. That is rare and most recently occurred in 1996. Most commonly, ice will cover about 50-60% of Lake Superior’s surface. In 2019, when we saw the wolves on Lake Superior in front of Bluefin Bay, we were lucky to experience 95% coverage.
Lake Superior ice is notoriously fickle. No matter how cold the winter gets, the movement of the water underneath makes the ice on top unreliable (just ask the 26 ice fisherman that had to be rescued by the coast guard in Duluth last winter). Because of the risks, ice formations are best enjoyed from the shoreline. The spray from waves will often cling onto trees and bushes creating fantastic icicle sculptures. Occasionally, when the wind and waves pick up after a period of stillness, crashed ice will form along the beaches.
Below you will find a list of our top 10 recommended locations for finding ice formations.
Tettegouche State park
Split Rock Lighthouse
Grand Marais Harbor
Best Selfie Spots
They say a photo is worth a thousand words and in this day and age, it’s probably worth even more! For that reason, we wanted to fill you in on the best photo opportunity locations at Bluefin Bay, Surfside and Temperance Landing.
Remember, some of the best photo ops are likely in your unit! The majority of our units have stunning Lake Superior views, wood-burning fireplaces, balconies – or all of the above! These are all fabulous spots to capture memories.
For outdoor photos, we’ve created maps for each resort to make it even easier for you. The camera icon marks the best spots at each resort.
Bluefin Bay Resort is so photogenic – you can’t go wrong! We chose the following as our favorites: Tofte cove, the outdoor pool, the lake walk, the beach in front of Bluefin Grille, the rocky peninsula on the south side of the Bay and the historic Tofte dock. Also note that the ice rink at Bluefin Bay is super charming in the winter!
Surfside Resort has an incredible shoreline that makes for beautiful photos. We suggest the shoreline on the far west side or the far east side of the resort, as that is where some of the best cliffs are. There is also a beautiful deck at Waves of Superior Spa that overlooks the resort.
Temperance Landing has a unique pebble shoreline that is very photogenic. On top of that, the log cabins themselves are stunning in photos. We recommend taking photos on the rocky outcropping on the east side so you can get both the shoreline and the cabins in the background! The Finnish sauna also has a lot of character and would make for a great backdrop.
And remember! “There are no bad pictures; that’s just how your face looks sometimes.” ― Abraham Lincoln
Winter Trip Planning Resources
Winter is Here! There are so many simple joys to experience at Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts that make winter a magical season to visit. And we put everything you need to know in one place. Listed below are your Winter Trip Planning Resources.
Things to Do
What does a winter vacation look like for you? For some, it means reading a good mystery novel next to a crackling fireplace. For others, it means learning how to cross county ski in a forest blanketed with snow.
This year, we have expanded our activities program to offer more of the guided tours and adventures that our guests love.
Complimentary activities include cross country skiing, snowshoeing, craft classes taught by local artists, ice skating, shuttles to the local winery and more. Additionally, we have two ice skating rinks – one at Bluefin Bay and one at Surfside. PLUS don’t forget about Waves of Superior Spa, the outdoor pool and hot tub (for guests of Bluefin Bay) and the indoor pool at Surfside (for guests of Surfside and Temperance Landing).
Between Bluefin Bay, Surfside and Temperance Landing, we have many cozy lodging options to choose from. If you’re unsure of where to begin, check out this playlist on our YouTube page which features lodging tours of all of our unit styles. You’ll find many of our units feature whirlpool tubs, wood-burning fireplace and views of stunning Lake Superior.
If you have visited Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts this Fall then you have likely encountered some of the wonderful people we have working in our Activities Department. We added three new staff members to our team to be able to offer more programming this winter than ever before.
Pictured from left to right are Keanan, Kayleigh, Jessica and Sean.
Sean Henkenius, also known as “Showtime Sean”, is our enthusiastic Activities Coordinator. Sean came to Tofte from Farmington, NM or the Great Southwest as he refers to it. He has a bachelor’s degree in Adventure Education from Prescott College plus a Master’s degree in Recreation Administration from Southern Illinois University. He has super creative ideas for the direction of the Activities Department and we are lucky to have him!
Jessica comes from North Branch, MN and has a contagious passion for North Shore recreation. She is also a registered yoga teacher and leads many of our classes at the resort. Kayleigh is from Yorba Linda, CA and has a degree in Forestry with an emphasis in Forest Health. She has been working in outdoor education for more than four years and offers a wealth of knowledge. Keanan is originally from Towanda, IL and has loved the outdoors for as long as he can remember. He has a degree in Outdoor Recreation but even better, he is an Eagle Scout! Lastly we have Jon aka “Nature Man” from Albert Lea, MN. Jon is an expert in maintaining our seasonal equipment to ensure guests get quality gear to check out. Jon is also a professional musician and you can find him playing his signature harp guitar along the North Shore.
We hope you will get a chance to meet this fantastic crew sometime this winter!
Book Early for Storm Season
Fall is here! And with it comes one of the most entertaining seasons on Lake Superior. Storm Season, also known as the Gales of November, begins in late October and lasts through mid-December. The low-pressure systems that pass over Lake Superior result in strong winds which have the potential to produce massive waves, like the ones in this video.
And if you are reading this post, then you know that no place brings you closer to Lake Superior than the Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts. Our lodging facilities at Bluefin Bay, Surfside and Temperance Landing provide a panoramic view of the Great Lake. We also have seating areas, pools and restaurants that offer stunning views of dazzling Lake Superior.
Combine Lake Superior’s wildest season with our resorts’ spectacular views and you have a match made by Mother Nature herself. Throw in wood burning fireplaces, whirlpool tubs, complimentary activities plus delicious on-site dining options and you have the perfect late fall vacation. To make it even sweeter, we offer a third night free when you stay anytime between October 24 and November 30th (excluding Thanksgiving weekend). Be sure to book soon as this time is filling up quickly and when nature puts on a show, you want a front row seat.
Waves & Wellness Weekend
Waves & Wellness Weekend
The team at Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts is VERY excited to host Waves & Wellness Weekend this November! We hope you can join us for what is sure to be a relaxing and rejuvenating weekend combining two of our favorite things: self-care and Lake Superior. We have been receiving plenty of questions regarding the upcoming event so we wanted to provide a sneak peek. The schedule will be finalized and posted on September 23rd but for now, this should give you an idea for what to expect.
The event takes place November 12-14th and we expect lodging will fill up quickly for the weekend. Additionally, we have a great offer during that time period. The Gales 3 for 2 offer means that when you stay two nights, you get a free night on us! This offer is available at Bluefin Bay, Surfside and Temperance Landing. Book Hereor give us a call at 218-663-7296.
All activities are included in your stay but advance sign-up is required. Sign-up opportunities will be available beginning on September 23rd when the schedule is posted. Activities will include craft classes, guided hikes, bonfires, yoga and HIIT classes plus a Signature Event on Saturday night that you won’t want to miss! The events and activities will be female-focused but anyone is welcome.
This year’s Signature Event will feature Motivational Speaker and Energy Master, Kristen Brown! Kristen is a frequent media contributor on topics relating to business, professional development, and personal growth. She has been a guest on over 500 media outlets including CNN, Inc., NBC, ABC, Live with Kelly & Michael, HLN, BBC, Fox, Psychology Today, Working Mother, and many more. Kristen writes frequent articles for The Huffington Post, Lifehack, LinkedIn, and her own blog. The Signature Event will also have wine hosted by the North Shore Winery and appetizers hosted by Bluefin Bay.
Return guests have noted that this weekend was previously known as Girls Gone North. We changed the name this year to give more focus to our restorative activities and the November Gales. Rest assured, the female-focused weekend will be similar to previous years and promises to be enjoyable and entertaining.
“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
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.
2022 Calendar Contest Deadline Extended!
The 27th Annual (!!) Bluefin Bay Calendar Contest is underway and we have just extended the deadline to August 31st, 2021!
2021 Grand Prize Winner by Jonathan Mortenson
Do you have any awe-inspiring photos from a recent trip to Bluefin Bay, Surfside or Temperance Landing? We are looking for photos of all 3 resorts plus the surrounding North Shore area. We select one photo for each month of the year, which means we need photos of all 4 seasons. Each participant may enter up to eight photos in the contest.
There will be a total of 12 contest winners. 11 monthly winners will receive a $200 gift certificate to be used toward dining or lodging at Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts. 1 Grand Prize winner will receive a $1000 gift certificate to be used toward dining or lodging at Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts plus their photo will be on the cover of the calendar. Note: Grand Prize cannot be won by the same contestant more than once every three years.
To participate, read the rules here and then submit your photos. By entry in this contest, all entrants grant permission to the Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts to use entered images in various media as determined by the Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts.
“There are no bad pictures; that’s just how your face looks sometimes.”
― Abraham Lincoln
5 Hikes for Kids in the Lutsen-Tofte Area
“Where can I take my kids for a hike?”
This is a question we frequently receive at the Bluefin Bay Guest Services desk, so we thought it might be helpful to construct a list of the 5 best hiking trails for kids in the Lutsen/Tofte area.
What constitutes a great trek for kids, you ask? The formula we utilized is equal parts easy, safe terrain + fun stuff to look at = great hike for kids.
Caribou Falls– This hike is just over a mile long and is an out and back. There is a bit of a steep climb toward the end but the waterfall you get to see is worth it. Pro Tip: This is also a great spot for swimming!
Temperance River – Temperance River State Park is a super cool place to explore. The trail winds along the river for quite a while and you can go as far as you want. Important: You do need to be careful with younger kids as there are some steep overlooks!
Leveaux Mountain – This is a bit of a longer hike at 3.2 miles. Leveaux Mountain shares a parking lot with the popular Oberg Mountain, but Leveaux is less busy and has fewer overlooks. The woods are fun to explore and there is one awesome overlook at the top. Pro Tip: This hike is lined with Maple Trees toward the top and is beautiful in the fall!
Lake Agnes – Enjoy a leisurely trek to beautiful Lake Agnes. This section of the Superior Hiking Trail will take you through a variety of different forests (Maple, Cedar, Birch) and offers an opportunity for swimming when you arrive. Pro Tip: Take the spur trail to White Sky Rock. You won’t regret it!
Cascade River State Park – Cascade is one of the most popular State Parks in Minnesota and for good reason! The park is located where the river flows into Lake Superior and features beautiful waterfalls the whole way down. Pro Tip: If you are in the mood for something super quick, you only need to hike about a quarter of a mile to see the first (and largest) waterfall!