Missing Minnesota, 14 Outdoor Adventurist Must See Destinations!

Missing Minnesota, 14 Outdoor Adventurist must see destinations!

Missing Minnesota, 14 Outdoor Adventurist Must See Destinations!

Missing Minnesota seemed an appropriate part of the title for this article since I can’t help but miss everything this state has to offer. I’ve always said I would never ever in a million years leave Minnesota! With all its lush green scenery and well over 10,000 lakes, it’s an outdoor adventurist dream! But here I am, writing about Missing Minnesota! I’ve since moved to England and don’t get me wrong there is much to envy about how beautiful it is! There is plenty of green lusciousness here and gardens that rival anywhere else in the world, but somehow it’s still not the same as home!  Missing Minnesota, 14 Outdoor Adventurist Must See Destinations, is a tale of my favourite places in Minnesota!

Bit of Minnesota background!

Minnesota is one of the few places you can experience the extreme heat of the summer reaching well into the 90’s F with 100% humidity and the freezing temperatures of the winter. I’ve seen temps as low at -40° F! All four seasons distinct and equally beautiful! Pick your pleasure! You will never run out of anything to do rain, snow or sunshine!

Carved out of the force of Glaciers thousands of years ago, the landscape of this state is an amazing site to see! I only wish I could have foreseen myself writing and taking more pictures!

1. Superior National Forest

Located in on the north-eastern border between Minnesota and Canada Superior National forest covers millions of acres. You couldn’t possibly see everything this forest has to offer in one trip. There are plenty of places for canoeing, kayaking, hiking, camping, fishing, snowmobiling, cross country skiing etc. There are thousands of trails and waterways to explore, all with their own unique beauty!

One of my favourite Hiking and Camping experiences are at Divide Lake Campground but there are so many how can I choose. It’s very small and very secluded due to only 3 actual camping sites. It’s a great little treasure if you really want to get away from it all! The unique aspect of this particular campground and most noteworthy, is that it sits on the Laurentian Divide. The rivers on the Laurentian Divide splits how the rivers flow. The rivers on the North side flow North and the Rivers on the South side flow South!

Best time to go: All year Round

missing minnesota lake

2. Boundary Waters

It’s impossible to pick just one favourite spot in MN, however I do have to say the Boundary Waters are special and at the top of the list! I could go on for hours about the Boundary Waters, furthermore for the sake of trying not to bore anyone, I’ll try and keep it short and sweet!

The Boundary Waters (BWCA) is well over a million acres in size and sits on the boarder of Northern Minnesota and Canada. The BWCA has well over 2,000 lakes and hundreds of rivers, streams and waterfalls! BWCA is federally protected wilderness and is one of the largest pristine watersheds in the world. You are required to have a quota permit in order to enter the BWCA because the area has very strict rules on keeping its preservation. If you have never been, you may also be required to sit in a class for a couple of hours to learn the rules.

I’ve been to the BWCA several times. There are many entry points and my favourites are from the Gunflint Trail out of Grand Marias and Fall Lake from Ely. Both areas are equally beautiful and no matter where you enter expect to be dazzled by nature and be truly at piece! There is nothing like it anywhere else in the world and I cannot even begin to explain how it takes your breath away!

Be prepared to rough it, the camp sites are very primitive and toilette's are off the beaten trail in the middle of the forest. You can only get into the boundary waters via canoe or by foot around the perimeter. Ah, just thinking about it makes me want to go back!

Not into roughing it, take a page out  the Kiwi Camper​ book on Van Life!

Best time to go: May through Early September

missing mn boundary waters

3. Gooseberry Falls

Gooseberry Falls has never ending hiking, biking and cross-country ski trails. Which is mostly how my time was spent at this gorgeous state park, along with picnics by the falls. You can camp, but I actually never have. Gooseberry Falls is very unique consisting of 5 water falls separated by the upper falls and the lower falls.

At the top of the upper falls the water is so very shallow it’s a novelty for visitors to walk the falls edge and bask in all its beauty! There is something so uniquely serene about Gooseberry Falls and it attracts thousands of visitors every year and is one the most visited parks in Minnesota. It’s located on the North Shore of Lake Superior close to Duluth!

Best time to go: Open year round and every season is stunning!

missing minnesota falls

4. Itaska State Park

Itaska State Park is the second oldest parks in the U.S behind Niagara Falls and spans out over 32,000 acres! To be honest I have no spent much time here but thought noteworthy because this is the home of the source of the Mississippi River which is the 4th longest river in the world!

I’ve been to the Park on a couple of occasions just for the novelty of stepping across the source of the Mississippi. I felt like a kindergartener thinking, well how can this be that a tiny little puddle can span into such a large river system sucking water out of 31 states along its way down to the Gulf of Mexico?

Best time to go: May through October

missing minnessota

5. Taylors Falls

Only 45 minutes from Minneapolis, Taylors Falls offers everything the State Parks offer at a closer proximity to the City! It’s perfect for day trips and long weekends! It’s heavily toured and for good reason, the spectacular sites and endless things to do here make it a great destination to put on your list if you’re in Minnesota!

I’ve been to Taylors Falls hundreds of times and probably done just about everything this historical quaint little town has to offer. So many cute little restaurants and pubs for the foodie at heart, serving up old fashion yum yums and treats!

My favourite part of Taylors Falls is hitting the St. Croix River Valley that separates Minnesota on one side and Wisconsin on the other! Endless things do from hiking, riverboat cruise’s from the falls to Stillwater Minnesota, camping, rock climbing, kayaking etc.

I love the River boat cruise’s they are so much fun and proper rock climbing is one of the best experiences I have ever had there, besides cliff diving! Which I don’t recommend because I was young and stupid and it’s very dangerous. Many people have lost their lives doing it. To really experience a full day of beauty my favourite road trip is to start in Stillwater, another fabulous place to visit and take the drive up highway 95 to Taylors falls. This is best done in the fall when the trees are spectacular display of every colour of the rainbow!

Just North of Taylors Falls

Another goody to check out for the sport in you is Wild Mountain! The ski hills are great for a family outing. For some adventure the Alpine Slides are truly amazing! Just keep your arms tucked in or you’ll end up with scraped up elbows!

Best time to Go: Spring, Summer and Fall

st. croix

6. Crosby Mines

Home, home on the range! The Cuyuna Range in Crosby is not only historical but it’s magical! I’ve camped there a few times and have never been disappointed. I can’t say for sure how many mines there are because I’ve only been to a couple of significant larger mines.

The mines were dug pre-world war I and couldn’t say exactly how old they are. You’ve most probably heard me say Minnesota has over 10,000 lakes a million times, however you can imagine with all the water in this state, mining can be a little tricky in some areas! The Crosby mines are about 300 feet deep and some places more. When they were digging, all hell broke loose and the mines were flooded.

It's a popular place for divers because underneath the water lays all the machinery and working equipment that was lost when the mines filled in. I love it and find it magical because the old oak trees still stand and you can see them just feed under the water, which is so clear. The visibility is fantastic and the DNR stocks the mines with all kinds of fish and the swimming experience is amazing and magical. Especially for kids, and I’m one big kid. I love day dreaming with my snorkel gear as I swim amongst the fishies in the tree tops!

Best time to go: May - September

missing minnesota

I most likely could write a book and continue on and on. Since you didn’t come here to read a novel about State Parks or Minnesota Lakes, I will leave you with a short list of some other top places that are equally spectacular for the outdoor adventurist.

7. Duluth – Historical Harbour City on the Shores of Lake Superior

8. Split Rock Light house – Historical National Landmark – Twin Harbours Lake Superior

9. Lake of the woods – Boarder Waters with MN and Canada, Great for house boating over 15,000 islands to camp on! Breath-taking!

10. Vermillion lake – feels like hundreds of lakes all in one with dozens of islands to camp. Also plenty of cabins and resorts to stay at.

11. Whitefish Chain of Lakes Brainerd – Not into Camping this is the place for you! A resort heaven for a weekend getaway.

12. Soo Line – hundreds of miles of trails from the old Soo Line Railroad. Pick your pleasure from the country or through the city. Plenty of trails for 4-wheeling, biking, hiking, running, snowmobiling etc.

13. Niagara Caves, Mystery Cave and Wabasha Caves - Each location unique but Niagara Caves is the best experience of underground excitement and 60 ft. waterfalls!

14. Minnehaha Falls – Sweet little park off the Mississippi River in the heart of Minneapolis

minnehaha me and jimmy
missing minnesota sunset

To Conlude

There are so many more parks and recreation places, literally thousands. These 14 locations are by far some of the best and my favourites! I absolutely miss my weekend getaways, but most of all at the end of the day, I miss my family and friends the most!

I’ll leave you with this, Minnesota is not often considered for large tourism and is mostly sunny all year round. It’s a remarkable place to visit. Beside all the parks and whatnot there is literally thousands of things to do and see!

Bonus Location!

Father Hennepin Park - Mille Lacs Lake - Home of the White Blue Eyed Deer!

missing Mn Deer


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  1. Reply

    Hi, Jimmy & Tina from Latvia. As you are addicted travelers, I hope you know where my beautiful country is located. If not, ask Siri „Where is Latvia located?“ and you’ll landing on a beautiful as Minnesota country with hundreds of lakes and the amber coast Baltic Sea.
    I typed Google Earth Minnesota and compared sizes of State of Minnesota and Latvia and found that it is about the twice smaller.
    Reading your post, which I really enjoy, I found many similarities, but at the same time, your state has many natural beauties which are not available in Latvia.
    As far as know there are many Latvian flew exactly to Minnesota as refugees after WW2.
    Once again thanks for the great informative article.
    Riga, Latvia

      • durhamslovelifetravel
      • October 21, 2016

      Thank you Andrejs, I do know where Latvia is, Was just looking at some photoes and it looks like a beautiful country and worth a visit!

  2. Reply

    What a great list! I’ll definitely have to stop by some of these on my road trip out west this summer. I love hiking waterfalls and checking in at the state parks around the country. Thanks for the tips.

  3. Reply

    I don’t know much about America because I never visited but from your article, Minnesota looks like a nature lover’s paradise. I love hiking and I do it as often as I can (I live in England too and I would recommend you the Dorset – Devon area for stunning landscapes). I think that I would love to hike in Minnesota and discover some of those beautiful waterfalls.

  4. Reply

    I can really relate to this article as I grew up in Northern Michigan. All the places you describe remind me of parallel places I experienced growing up. The hardwood forests, the fresh, clear lakes, the beaches, sand dunes, and just the superb natural settings are something anyone who grew up in such surroundings would miss. Enjoyed reading this.

      • durhamslovelifetravel
      • October 21, 2016

      oh gosh, I know! Thank you Christine! I love Michigan and Wisconsin as well. I used to take a road trip for the weekend strait across, well not strait, but from Lake superior across WI and over the Upper UP! Anther gorgeous place! Wish I didn’t lose all the pic on my move because I don’s see to many stories about the area and I think outdoor enthusiast are missing out 🙂

  5. Reply

    What a great piece! I never would have considered Minnesota for a trip as I have only been to the Mall of America, but the National Parks are beautiful! I have noted this and will add it to my US road trip!

      • durhamslovelifetravel
      • October 21, 2016

      Thank you Janine! I actually watched the Mall being built, was just there a couple of months ago! I love A good old US road trip, Hope you have so much fun!

    • Doug
    • October 21, 2016

    Did you just finish your post with a picture of an albino deer and not say anything about it?
    I grew up just north of Minnesota on the north shores of Lake of the Woods. This summer I revisited and lucked into a lovely weekend of weather and celebrated a class reunion with my grade one class. Some have relocated all over the world to as far away as Tasmania which is similar country and climate.
    Somehow the country just gets into your blood and it will always be home.
    Thanks for the wonderful post.

      • durhamslovelifetravel
      • October 21, 2016

      🙂 Thank you Doug! Love the area, Lake of the Woods Is so beautiful! I’ve been looking at my procrastination list of post to write 🙂 I love the dear, They are actually not albino, they are an anomaly and found in a bout three states. The dear all have beautiful blue eyes and reside in Father Hennepin Park on Mille Lacs Lake. I was fortunate enough to get tons of pics and hoping to write about them soon in the near future 🙂 Thanks for the inspiration, I think I might write about them today! Looking forward to a trip home next week, I can’t wait! I agree, where your born and breed I think will always be your home, it’s where you roots are 🙂

  6. Reply

    This looks like the ideal destination for outdoorsy types. I had no idea that there were waterfalls there and all this beautiful nature. Thank you for sharing. Always love learning about other places.

      • durhamslovelifetravel
      • October 21, 2016

      Thank you Kimberly! There are Tons, of Waterfalls in Minnesota, I would actually love to go see them all 🙂

  7. Reply

    You can see and do all this in Minnesota?! WOW! You are right, not a lot of people, including myself, don’t usually instantly think of exploring Minnesota when they go to the US. It’s just that it hardly comes to mind! I always go to the US during summer and winter. Next time, I’ll go in Spring to check out the falls! <3

      • durhamslovelifetravel
      • October 21, 2016

      Thank you Sarah!

    • Daynah Johnson
    • October 21, 2016

    Fantastic post! I wouldn’t have ever considered Minnesota before seeing this. So informative.

      • durhamslovelifetravel
      • October 21, 2016

      Thank you Daynah!

  8. Reply

    Really hard to choose just a couple of these destinations to visit. Each of the worthy in their own way.
    But first I will head to the falls. Thanks for the tips on time to visit these places, makes it easier to plan.

      • durhamslovelifetravel
      • October 21, 2016

      Thank you Indrani!

  9. Reply

    Dying to go to Gooseberry Falls!!!!

      • durhamslovelifetravel
      • October 21, 2016

      Thanks Tiana, I hope you can make it there someday 🙂

  10. Reply

    Looks like a great state to visit. I did 2 months in the US last year and visited many state parks and national parks. Had a great time and can’t wait to go back and explore more 🙂

  11. I’ve never been to Minnesotta and the US but reading your article gave me the impression that Minnesota is the place to go to for nature lovers! Out of the many places you highlighted, I couldn’t pick my favorite as well. They all look beautiful and I wouldn’t mind seeing all of them! The waterfalls are really glorious though!

      • durhamslovelifetravel
      • October 21, 2016

      Thank you Nadine!

    • Ivy
    • October 21, 2016

    Oh my goodness, Minnesota sounds like an outdoor adventurist’s heaven! I’m a huuuuge fan of hugging mother nature so I’ll have to visit some time. I think my favourite would be Gooseberry Falls 😊

      • durhamslovelifetravel
      • October 21, 2016

      Ivy, Thank you glad you enjoyed the read! Hope you can make it some day 🙂

  12. I´m afraid of water, so I would pass everything connected with this element, haha. But I would visit that Itaska State Park ♥

      • durhamslovelifetravel
      • October 21, 2016

      🙂 🙂 Thank you Gabrielle

  13. Reply

    What an wonderful place and looks very peaceful. I can imagine that you and such a great holiday and feel relaxing.

      • durhamslovelifetravel
      • October 21, 2016

      Thank you Kintan!

    • Laveena Sengar
    • October 21, 2016

    I can imagine why you would be missing Minnesota so much. The pictures speak for the place. I feel the strong urge to visit this place now as I wasn’t aware of its beauty initially 🙂

      • durhamslovelifetravel
      • October 22, 2016

      Thank you Laveena, It is beautiful, I know there are so many wonderful and beautiful places all over the world but home is where the heart is 🙂

  14. Reply

    You seem tp be a true nature lover. Have you covered all these places tgat you mentioned? Wow! I can imagine how much fun ur would be to discover more of what tou haven’t seen yet. Each looks so appealing.

  15. Reply

    You seem tp be a true nature lover. Have you covered all these places tgat you mentioned? Wow! I can imagine how much fun ur would be to discover more of what tou haven’t seen yet. Each looks so appealing.

      • durhamslovelifetravel
      • October 22, 2016

      Thank you Punita, I’ve been to all the places in my article numerous time. I grew up in Minnesota and it’s a strange right of passage culture for families to visit state parks and landscapes in the summer. I could have most likely wrote 100 places but didn’t have pics or most likely enough space would have needed a book 🙂

  16. Reply

    Lovely landscape all around Minnesota. And there is so much to see and do for the entire family. I am sure it is a great destination for a leisurely family holiday.

      • durhamslovelifetravel
      • October 22, 2016

      Family getaways are very nice, thank you Vyjay!

  17. Reply

    Over 10,000 lakes sounds like a dream!! Wow, I love lakes! Would love to visit the boundary waters. Never been there before. But it’s definitely going on my list. Minnesota is now really a place I’d love to visit. Picnics by falls: I wouldn’t mind if that was my holiday haha. Love it. Crosby mines sounds interesting as well!

      • durhamslovelifetravel
      • October 22, 2016

      Thank you Carola, I think it’s funny they call it land of 10,000 lakes since there are more than 11,000 just in the metro area 🙂

  18. Reply

    Anywhere that you can only visit by canoe or by foot immediately makes me want to go. Guess I need to put the boundary waters on my list! Would make for a good road trip from Washington.

      • durhamslovelifetravel
      • October 22, 2016

      That would be quite a road trip and sounds like fun, count me in 🙂 Boundary Waters would take your breath away hope you can see it some day!

  19. Reply

    I’m a huge outdoors fun! I would love to visit them all. I like that some of them can be visited all year round. It’s good to plan your schedule according to the best time to visit.

  20. Reply

    I haven’t been to Minnesota but it looks the best place for nature lovers. So many places for outdoor activities! Thanks for sharing!

    • Iris
    • October 23, 2016

    Lovely place and good shots! I work in retail to pay for my studies, so I do spent a lot of time indoors. I’ll surely consider this location for my next outdoor journey, can’t wait! 🙂

  21. Reply

    I really want to go to Voyagers National Parks up that way. But these look amazing as well. I need to make more time in Minnesota.

  22. Reply

    I lived in MN for college and never made it to any of these places aside from Minnehaha Falls…But I’m hoping to go to the Boundary Waters next year for my 5 year college reunion. Your article and photos highlight the beauty of Minnesota. Unfortunately, I definitely don’t think the state gets the credit it deserves!

  23. Reply

    I’m sold by this article, Minnesota sounds like a wonderful place to live. Not being considered for large tourism just makes it sounds more attractive and intimate! Also, the added bonus location is just the sweetest thing!

  24. Reply

    Hi, Folks…

    As a Minnesota native, I can add one more location worth some time for visitors: International Falls and the Voyagers National Park…This is one of the least visited National Parks yet one of the most beautiful. I grew up near Ranier and in International Falls and at the time the park was being established , there was a great deal of resistance to having the park in our backyard at all…Yet the reasons were not because of a lack of worth, rather the loss of free use of the gorgeous region…Bordering Canada, is a long trip North from the Twin Cities, but well worth a few days or longer of your vacation time….Cheers! Dave : )

      • durhamslovelifetravel
      • October 24, 2016

      Thank you Dave, I don’t know how I could have missed Voyager National Park. I actually went up through Crane Lake on a boat tour, missed the portage and ended up getting onto Lake of the woods through Canadian canal. hahah will have to write about it and add to the beautiful places in Minnesota. Also loved snowmobiling in International Falls has big rally every February. Thanks so much for your comment and will give these awesome places some spotlight in the future 🙂

    • Mags
    • October 24, 2016

    I haven’t been to Minnesota, but it’s been on my radar lately. It looks beautiful… I may have to wait til it’s closer to those 90 degree Summers to come visit though!

  25. Reply

    I can’t wait when I have enough money to travel to USA and travel to all of the beautiful cities and places. Definitely, Minnesota is on my USA roadtrip to-do list. So excited 🙂
    Tina von S | http://lifestylerookie.com/

      • durhamslovelifetravel
      • October 26, 2016

      Thank you Tina, I hope you can make it someday 🙂

    • lex
    • October 26, 2016

    true adventure, great images to capture good moments, never been to the united states so i cant say how minnesota is, cool post though.

  26. Reply

    When I think Minnesota, I imagine a cold, desolate place with long, depressing winters. Well, I should say I “thought” that…because it looks like an outdoor lovers’ paradise and I can only imagine how beautiful it is in the fall and spring.

    • Kris
    • October 28, 2016

    These are top notch go-to places in Minnesota. I would love to try camping at Boundary waters and visit the Minnehaha falls. 🙂

  27. Reply

    Great locations and amazing images!

  28. Reply

    We have never been to Minnesota so far but we’d like to explore a wonderful place like it. Your photos are so professional, wow!!

  29. Reply

    Wow the photography is super beautiful. I would love to visit Minnesota!
    Pamela Arsena recently posted…Harley Davidson Baby ClothesMy Profile

  30. Reply

    This is a great list- a friend of mine recently did a cycling trip around Minnesota and loved it!
    Tamara Elliott recently posted…7 tips for driving the Icefields Parkway during winterMy Profile

  31. Reply

    I’ve never visited Minnesota but it looks like I need to consider it! I love waterfalls so much and this one looked impressive. Great posts, great pics!

    • Dana
    • January 1, 2017

    I can’t believe I’ve never been to Minnesota. I’m missing out! There seems to be so much to do, but I’d really like to explore Gooseberry Falls. My kids love waterfalls.

  32. Reply

    Sounds like there’s plenty to miss about Minnesota! I have only been once, and in the winter, so I didn’t get to experience much of the outdoors. My brother has moved there permanently with his partner though, so looking forward to going back and checking out many of the places you’ve mentioned. Thanks for the great advice!
    Jen Joslin recently posted…Getting Off the Beaten Path in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), VietnamMy Profile

  33. Reply

    Thanks for this! My husband is from Minnesota, though moved to Florida when he was 18 and was living there when I met him. Something about never wanting to see anymore snow again!!! We lived in the States based in FL, but didn’t have the chance to head back to MN before moving back to Aus. I would love to visit one day if not for the stunnign natural attractions, but to see where he grew up 🙂

    • Joan
    • January 3, 2017

    Minnesota looks amazing! But I believe that in winter must be freaking freezing right? I will consider it for my next USA trip! Cheers to that 😉

      • durhamslovelifetravel
      • January 3, 2017

      ha, yes it does freeze in the winter, but spring and summer and fall are quite nice, Summer it the opposite extreme with hot weather 🙂

  34. Reply

    North Iowa is my home and I have been to several of the places you list. Southern Minnesota also has some lakes that go unnoticed. Fairmont , Minnesota is home to several lakes that many don’t know about. It seems most travel north of the cities to check the state out. Gooseberry Falls is a personal favorite, as well as Voyageurs National Park and Lake Kabetogama are also favorites. Glad you enjoyed your visit to Minnesota!
    Sara Broers recently posted…The Pub On The Cedar: Charles City, IowaMy Profile

  35. Reply

    I’d love to visit Itaska State Park, perhaps in September. 32,000 acres is just insane. This is a great list, thanks for sharing! Happy travels 🙂
    Carmen’s Luxury Travel recently posted…Top Things to Do and See in DubaiMy Profile

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