A Stop-by-Stop Guide to a Great Lakes Road Trip

Navigating the 1,800-mile shoreline of Lake Superior is the equivalent of driving from Bangor, Maine, to Key West.

Herb Lester and Gishani

From Issue One of the Gear Patrol Magazine. Free shipping for new subscribers.

People imagine a lake as something they can jog around in an hour or two. Lake Superior is not that lake. Navigating its 1,800-mile shoreline is the equivalent of driving from Bangor, Maine, to Key West, and cuts through three states and a Canadian province. Ten days is about the sweet spot to do it properly. Mind your fuel gauge and keep an eye out for moose. Pack warm clothes even in summer and be prepared for plenty of adventures scattered around the world’s largest freshwater lake. Here are some suggestions for stops along the way.

1. Maritime Visitor’s Center


Consult the shipping news at the Maritime Visitor’s Center in Canal Park, then wave to deckhands on the 1,000-foot lake freighters that churn underneath the iconic Aerial Lift Bridge.

Location: Duluth, MN
Learn More: lsmma.com

2. North House Folk School


Learn a traditional northern craft like boatbuilding or blacksmithing at the North House Folk School, or go for a day sail on the school’s schooner, Hjørdis.

Location: Grand Marais, MN
Learn More: northhouse.org

3. Naniboujou Lodge


Spend the night at the Naniboujou Lodge, built in 1929, and marvel at the largest stone fireplace in Minnesota.

Location: Grand Marais, MN
Learn More: www.naniboujou.com

4. Hoito Restaurant


Have traditional Finnish pancakes at the Hoito Restaurant in the century-old Finnish Labour Temple.

Location: Thunder Bay, ON
Learn More: finlandiaclub.ca

5. Rossport Inn and Cabins

Photo: Frank J. Hutton

Spend the night at the Rossport Inn and listen to the owner tell the story of the Gunilda shipwreck that lies just offshore.

Location: Rossport, ON
Learn More: www.rossport.ca

6. Point Trail


Hike the Point Trail, past the ruins of a former WWII POW camp, to spectacular views of one of the most remote parts of Lake Superior.

Location: Neys Provincial Park, ON
Learn More: www.ontarioparks.com

7. Bathtub Island


Wade 50 meters into the lake to tiny Bathtub Island and take in the view from a pool of sun-warmed water.

Location: Lake Superior Provincial Park, ON
Learn More: gdbphototravel.com

8. Agawa Rock


Brave slippery rocks to see the Native American pictographs at Agawa Rock.

Location: Lake Superior Provincial Park, ON
Learn More: lakesuperiorpark.ca

9. Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum


At the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, walk among artifacts from numerous wrecks, including the Edmund Fitzgerald’s bell.

Location: Whitefish Point, MI
Learn More: shipwreckmuseum.com

10. Muldoons Pasties & Gifts

gearpatrol-lakesuperior-muldoons-650 copy

Fuel up on the Upper Peninsula’s famous pasties at Muldoons, then spend the day paddling from Miners Castle to Lovers Leap at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

Location: Munising, MI
Learn More: muldoonspasties.com

11. Lower Harbor Ore Dock


Grab a six-pack of Black Rocks 51K IPA, then hop the fence for a clandestine tour of Marquette’s defunct ore dock, which dominates the local skyline.

Location: Marquette, MI
Learn More: mqtcty.org

12. Jamsen’s Fish Market


Rappel into a former copper mine at the Adventure Mine Company near Greenland; watch the sunrise in Copper Harbor with coffee from Jamsen’s Fish Market.

Location: Keweenaw Peninsula, MI
Learn More: jamsen.biz

13. Madeline Island


Catch the hourly ferry over to Madeline Island and spend the day exploring by kayak or on foot.

Location: Bayfield, WI
Learn More: madelineisland.com

14. The Anchor Bar & Grill


Finish your tour with a beer and a burger at The Anchor Bar & Grill (a gritty sailor’s den) and marvel at the collection of nautical ephemera.

Location: Superior, WI
Learn More: anchorbarandgrill.com


This story first appeared in Issue One of the Gear Patrol Magazine, 280 pages of stories, reports, interviews and original photography from seven distinct locations around the world. Subscribe now and receive free shipping on the biannual magazine. Offer expires soon.

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