Minnesota, Grand Portage & Minong Questions

Questions about how to get to the island and where to stay near points of departure.

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Montana
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Minnesota, Grand Portage & Minong Questions

Post by Montana » Wed Jan 04, 2017 6:15 pm

I am blessed with a teenage daughter who loves to backpack. I am even more blessed that she loves going on adventures with her Dad. The rough plan for a late August trip:

Day 0 – Fly from Montana to Minnesota. Drive to Grand Portage
Day 1 – Ferry from GP to Windigo/McCargoe Cove (day hike to Minong Mine)
Day 2 – McCargoe Cove to Todd Harbor
Day 3 – Todd Harbor to Little Todd Harbor
Day 4 – Little Todd Harbor to Lake Desor North
Day 5 – Lake Desor to Washington Creek
Day 6 – Layover Day at Washington Creek (rent Kayaks)
Day 7 – Washington Creek to Huginnin Cove
Day 8 – Huginnin Cove to Windigo, Ferry to GP

The plan is to keep the itinerary loose – if the weather turns we can move the layover day or deep six Huginnin Cove. Now for my questions:

1) We are driving from either the airport in Minneapolis or Duluth, any suggestions on don’t miss sights along the drive? The goal is to get to Grand Portage early evening, so the stop would be more to break up the five hour drive than to explore in depth. I’m thinking a beach, waterfall, lighthouse, or historic sight.

2) We will need to stock up on last minute provisions that we don’t want to bring from Montana. Is there a decent grocery store in Grand Marias where we can pick up bagels/fruit? Or should shop in Duluth?

3) Same type of question as #2, Delta doesn’t allow fuel canisters and I would rather purchase fuel before embarking on the Voyageur. Any suggestions on where to buy fuel? I don’t want to get to Windigo without fuel in case the store’s inventory is being cycled down. Plus the Voyageur has a schedule to keep and we don’t want to hold up the ship.

4) Is the hotel/casino in Grand Portage appropriate for a 16-year old? I’m not over protective, but don’t want to regret our hotel choice on the first night. When I think casino I imagine all sorts of crazy things…

Any suggestions or thoughts on the itinerary would be appreciated. These forums have provided a wealth of information and we appreciate your feedback!

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Ingo
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Re: Minnesota, Grand Portage & Minong Questions

Post by Ingo » Wed Jan 04, 2017 6:57 pm

Sounds like a great trip! I've enjoyed several father/daughter trips myself.

1. Not much to miss between Mpls and Duluth. I would fly into Duluth if I could, but I know from experience that the cost can be double vs MSP. Sometimes you get lucky though. In any case, there's plenty to see on the North Shore from Duluth to G.P. Gooseberry Falls, Split Rock Lighthouse, and Temperance River would be my recommended stops. All are right on your route, short hikes (more like walks) and very scenic (also popular in the summer). Also High Falls at Grand Portage St Pk on the Canadian border is the highest waterfall if you have the time--also easily accessible and viewable by a short hike (and pretty impressive).
2,3. Grand Marais will be fine for any provisioning needs. There's a comprehensive outdoors store on the water by the harbor. Haven't done grocery shopping there, but sure that's not a problem. My only concern would be if it got to be later in the evening and small town hours.
4. No worries. It's clean and quiet in my experience. The casino is pretty small and have never witnessed anything crazy going on. Double check the hrs of the restaurant to make sure they're open early enough to catch the boat. If not, you'll need to find something at the convenience store--but they have a better than average selection of food, including some fruit. Good idea to bring something for lunch on the boat too.

If possible, I'd consider flying in a day early and enjoying a full day to travel up the north shore. It's also a lot less stressful, especially if there are flight delays.

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Re: Minnesota, Grand Portage & Minong Questions

Post by Montana » Fri Jan 06, 2017 10:14 am

Thanks Ingo, lots of good advice. Might try to hit both the Split Rock Lighthouse (we don't have any in Montana!) and the High Falls. We are finding that Duluth is an expensive airport, so we might be stuck with Mpls. With plenty of time to purchase plane tickets, we might luck out. Any other suggestions, let me know. Thanks again!

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Re: Minnesota, Grand Portage & Minong Questions

Post by IncaRoads » Fri Jan 06, 2017 11:25 am

3) There is a REI in Bloomington MN, about 6 miles from the MSP airport. You can procure fuel canisters there and any other last minute backpacking items.

4) The casino restaurant is not open early enough to catch the Voyageur II.


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Re: Minnesota, Grand Portage & Minong Questions

Post by jerry » Fri Jan 06, 2017 11:55 am

In Grand Marais there is a grocery store. As you come into the downtown area there'll be a traffic light. The store is on the left within a block or two after the light.


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Re: Minnesota, Grand Portage & Minong Questions

Post by torpified » Sat Jan 07, 2017 7:46 am

Just chiming in to confirm (on the basis of one night's stay there) the casino complex does NOT emit a menacing underworld vibe or teem with exotic dancers. Most of the clientele appeared to be retirees from Thunder Bay; most of the employees were (if anything) even more staid. My room had a mini-fridge, coffee maker, and microwave; I got breakfast supplies at the convenience store down the road and ate in before heading out to catch the Voyageur II (which by the way, and to the surprise of Boy Scout Troop 48 from the Twin Cities, does NOT leave from the marina visible from the hotel but from a little dock a few more miles down the road ....).

Also, you'll have a blast! I learned to love the outdoors from my father, and father-daughter teams are my favorite teams to encounter on the trail.

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Re: Minnesota, Grand Portage & Minong Questions

Post by Montana » Mon Jan 09, 2017 9:46 am

Thanks for all the great info -- I wasn't picturing exotic dancers! Sounds like we have pre-trip sites, shopping and sleeping arangements set.

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Re: Minnesota, Grand Portage & Minong Questions

Post by Tom » Mon Jan 09, 2017 5:27 pm

Montana wrote:I wasn't picturing exotic dancers!
To be perfectly forthright, to some, Canadians are exotic. Furthermore, if you've seen them dance, well, it's a sight to behold. Our Minnesota life is an exciting one. :shock:

Other than seemingly being under a constant state of reconstruction (I can't recall the last time the pool was open) I'll rephrase what others have said: It's really a typical hotel with a small casino attached on the side. If you enter the main hotel door entrance, other than a few senior citizens strolling about with frequent slot-player cards, you'd be hard pressed to know there is a casino attached unless you walked down that hallway.

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