Witnessing the northern lights is a common bucket list item (and for good reason!). They truly are a sensational natural phenomenon. Luckily for us, the northern lights can be visible from Tofte due to our northern location and clear, dark skies. Because this activity is something you can do alone or with your loved ones from your car, it is ideal for this socially distanced winter.
The best time to spot the elusive show is during the winter on a clear night. There are helpful websites which track the levels of geomagnetic activity in different areas, known as KP levels. The KP levels are on a scale of 0-9 and give you an idea of where you can go to see the auroras. In order to see them in Tofte, you will be looking for a KP level of 4 or higher. The website we recommend checking is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Now you may be wondering where to go about seeing the northern lights. The easiest location would be right in front of the Bluefin Grille. The peninsula there extends out into Lake Superior offering a view of the northern sky (like shown in the photo). Be sure to bring a flashlight so you can navigate carefully! Another great spot is up the Sawbill Trail about three miles. There is a pull off area on the left side of the road which features an expansive view of the northern sky. Remember to face north (that one is important!) and to turn off any artificial lights nearby. Bundle up and good luck!
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: 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
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!
Celebrate With Your Sweetheart!
Celebrate the month of love with a winter vacation to Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts. We promise that as you get closer to the lake, you’ll get closer to each other. In addition, take advantage of great packages and upcoming specials this winter.
NEW: NORTH SHORE SWEETHEART DEAL! Offer valid Feb. 1-Feb. 13, 2020. Stay 3 nights and one is FREE + Complimentary Champagne and a coupon for a free wine tasting at North Shore Winery in Lutsen! If you and your sweetie are looking for a North Shore romantic getaway that avoids the crowds on Valentine’s Day/President’s Day holiday weekend, this sweet deal is for you!
Romantic Retreat Package: Two or more nights in a Grand Superior Master Suite or any other room style. Breakfast for two on two separate mornings at either the Bluefin Grille or Coho Cafe & Bakery. Dinner for two at the Bluefin Grille with breathtaking Lake Superior views (value up to $80). Your getaway should be as unique as your love and you can personalize your package with distinctive add-ons. See the complete package details for more information.
North Shore Honeymoon Package: Two or more nights in a Grand Superior Master Suite or any other room style. Breakfast for two on two separate mornings at either the Bluefin Grille, Waves of Superior Cafe, or Coho Café (up to $25 each day). Dinner for two at the Bluefin Grille with breathtaking views (value up to $80). Rose petals scattered in your room upon arrival. Commemorative photo frame. North Shore Winery tour and tasting
Treat your Valentine to Dinner at the Bluefin Grille or Coho Cafe!
In addition to the full menus, Bluefin Grille and Coho Cafe will be offering these evening Sweetheart Specials on Friday, February 14th and on Saturday, February 15th.
Entrees: Pappardelle Pasta with Maine Lobster and Shrimp • Steak Oscar • Grilled Swordfish
Desserts: Gluten-Free White and Dark Chocolate Cake • Warm Vanilla Raspberry Bundt Cake a la Mode
Hygge (pronounced “HOO-gah”) is a Danish word for enjoying life’s simple pleasures. In the winter along Minnesota’s North Shore, we fully embrace and encourage this lifestyle. During this time, we seek out cozy spaces, outdoor adventures with lots of fresh air, and meaningful moments spent with family and friends. In addition, hygge promotes emotional and physical wellbeing and gives us a sense of togetherness and contentment. This feeling can happen whether we are doing something simple and ordinary or having an extraordinary winter adventure.
Here at Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts, we’ll help you get into the spirit of hygge. Imagine a day spent enjoying winter fun:
After a full day of winter fun, curl up with a good book or jovial conversation with loved ones around a warm fire, soak in the indoor or outdoor hot tubs, or book a hot stone massage at the Waves of Superior Spa.
Cook County is celebrating its 4th annual Hygge Festival February 7 – 16. You’ll find events to celebrate the ‘cozy season’ all along the North Shore from Tofte to Grand Portage. Live music, night skiing, dog sled tours, special dinners, artsy events, and more have been scheduled to help you embrace life’s simple pleasures.
The Holidays Are Happy at Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts!
The winter holidays are upon us! During this time of year, we like to reflect on the months that have gone by, the memories made, and the adventures that were had. Thank you to all of our wonderful guests who choose Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts as your getaway destination.
The holiday season is special and magical here on Minnesota’s North Shore. If you will be joining us over the holiday time between Christmas and New Year’s (or if you are thinking of planning a last-minute getaway!) here are a few resources to help plan your trip.
We have a wide variety of complimentary activities offered year-round. From winter hiking, and cross-country ski trips, to yoga and kids adventures, there is something for everyone this holiday season. Visit the online activity calendar to see a complete list and to help plan your stay.
Complimentary Equipment Rental! Cross-Country Skis, Snowshoes, Ice Skates, Hockey sticks and nets, ice grippers, and more can all be rented for free during your stay with us.
Cross-Country skiing has been great this season with most trails open. Join us on one of our guided resort ski trips or we can provide you with a map if you prefer to head out on your own. The Sugarbush Trails have their most popular trails groomed and open. Visit their website for up to date trail conditions.
Lutsen Mountains is now open daily for the ski season! Early snow and perfect temps for making snow have given them a fantastic base for December skiing. Visit their website for up to date conditions and trail maps. Book a Ski & Stay Package for the best deal. We offer FREE daily shuttles to and from the base of the mountain!
Celebrate the season with even more local activities and events! Live entertainment, art exhibition, brewery tours, great shopping and more will keep you busy and entertained this holiday season. Check out the Visit Cook County Events Calendar for a full list of happenings!
Closed on Christmas Eve
OPEN Christmas Day for Breakfast Lunch and Dinner with Holiday Specials.
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.