The Minnesota North Shore A Magnificent Wonder of the NorthWoods

Over my past 10 year journey in photography, I've had the good fortune to have completed 7 photo trips to the scenic upper Midwest region of the United States. The area I have visited is part of The Northwoods and essentially that which covers the U. S. side of Lake Superior, including Northern Wisconsin, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and Northeastern Minnesota. With its numerous waterfalls, lighthouses, and abundant forests, the Northwoods is remarkable for its beauty, grandeur, and wilderness. It offers unlimited and fascinating opportunities for photography.

Lake Superior is the largest body of fresh water on Earth. The Minnesota North Shore spans the western edge of this Great Lake from Duluth, Minnesota to the Canadian Border, some 150 miles along US Highway 61. The area along the Lake Superior shoreline and inland offers a unique landscape more in common with that of the North Atlantic region of Europe and Canada. In the spring of 2017 I visited the North Shore area for my first ever visit. In September 2019 I returned, this time for a vacation with my wife, Lisa, and managed to find the time to get a few more scenes captured. The locations of photos in this presentation are indicated on the map below.

Here is the view from outside of our townhouse at The Bluefin Bay Resort, Tofte, Minnesota where we stayed this past September. The western shore of Lake Superior seems to never be calm; it is at the same time both beautiful and angry.

Split Rock Lighthouse and Museum

In November 1905 twenty nine ships were damaged in a single storm. That event led to the coastline of the Minnesota North Shore being proclaimed by American novelist James Oliver Curwood "the most dangerous piece of water in the world.". In 1907 Congress appropriated funds to begin construction of the Split Rock Lighthouse which was commissioned in 1910. The Lighthouse and grounds are well worth the visit.

The lighthouse sits on a cliff 130 feet above the lake. An approximate 1/4 mile hike will bring you to the rocky shoreline.
3RD Order Fresnel lens. Invented in 1822 by Augustin Jean Fresnel, (pronounced fray-nel).

Two Harbors Lighthouse and Museum

Two Harbors, Minnesota

North Shore Commercial Fishing

Beginning in 1850 many immigrants from Norway and Sweden were drawn to the area, attracted by the similarities to the landscape of their homeland and using the fishing and logging skills they brought with them. Their rich history is commemorated through displays at the Split Rock Lighthouse Museum and North Shore Commercial Fishing Museum located in Tofte.


Grand Marais

The charming small town of Grand Marais is located forty miles from the Canadian border. It is home to art galleries, quirky restaurants, and includes a small harbor with a modest lighthouse.

After a terrific lunch at the Angry Trout Café this scene in the harbor caught my eye from inside the restaurant. The light rain, fog, and the person at the end of the pier offered mystery and scale.
Five Mile Rock is located 1/2 mile from the shore and 5 miles to the northeast of Grand Marais Harbor. Formerly it was used for navigation guidance.

Waterfalls of The North Shore

Waterfalls are abundant all along the Lake Superior shore and inland. As you hike through the woods, the distant and faint rumble of the falls grows as you approach, and when you arrive on the scene, explodes into the thundering roar of the rapids pounding against ancient rock formations. Here are a few scenes.

Pigeon River Upper Falls

Pigeon River Upper Falls, highest falls in the state of Minnesota at 120 feet height.
Pigeon River Middle Falls | As seen from the Canadian Side

Temperance River Falls

Temperance river downstream from the falls.

Beaver Falls


The Naniboujou Lodge & Restaurant

This unique hotel was established as an exclusive club in 1927 and included Jack Dempsey, Babe Ruth, and Ring Lardner as charter members.

Naniboujou Dining Room. The massive fireplace was built with over 200 tons of native Lake Superior rock.
My wife and I enjoyed lunch in the dining room and were blessed with a table in front of the spectacular fireplace.
A panorama of the Naniboujou viewed from the entrance.
Wauswaugoning Bay | Canadian Border

Tettegouche State Park | Shovel Point

In 2010 the famous natural sea arch at Shovel Point that extended above the lake collapsed, leaving only a stone pillar.

Lake Superior is the coldest of the Great Lakes. My trips were in late spring and early fall and I found the coast to be often shrouded in fog. During the warmer months between spring and fall the land surrounding the lake heats warmer than the water. The fog happens when moist warm air condenses as it flows over the cold lake.

Thank you for letting me share my trips and the beauty of The Minnesota North Shore with you.

Camera Info: Canon EOS 6D, Tamron 24-70 & 100-400, Tokina 16-28 lenses. Platypod Max with Benro B2 ball head, Manfrotto 055XProb tripod with Manfrotto MH055 ball head, and Hoya 9 Stop Variable ND Filter.

All images Copyright 2019 and 2017 © Larry Lato Imaging. All rights reserved.

Created By
Larry Lato


Created by Larry Lato