Lake Superior Circle Tour - Fiberglass RV

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Old 02-11-2009, 01:10 PM   #1
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I might take this trip this summer.

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Anyone done this trip?
Good places to camp?
Things to see?

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Old 02-11-2009, 03:27 PM   #2
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Never having seen the American side, I can't speculate. One thing I can tell you is that the whole Canadian side is very picturesque, and that if you have the time you should stop at as many of those places listed as possible. There are also many places that you will see that likely aren't listed that you will want to visit as well.

I may end up doing part of it this summer with my family, and think they will quite enjoy it.

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Old 02-11-2009, 04:39 PM   #3
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I might take this trip this summer.

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Anyone done this trip?
Good places to camp?
Things to see?
I have, and it's a fabulous one. My mom and I went around and camped in the back of my then-pickup truck. The "good places to camp and places to see" could take an hour to write I'm also from the region.

Basically, the north shore (MN and Canada) are rocky and wilder; the south shore (Wisconsin and Michigan) have a less spectacular but "friendlier" sandy shoreline (gross generalization of course). Things don't really get summery until at least mid-June. We went in September and it was great. Not too many bugs, kids back in school, ripe berries -- but it would be great anytime June through September (and October on a good weather window but...).

Rocky hikes, lighthouses, waterfalls, and beaches abound. Moose, deer, etc. Lots of nice, "primitive" national forest campground type places (probably more luxurious private ones too, but we weren't looking for those).

In case you're thinking of swimming, know that the water will be between 45 - 65 degrees Fahrenheit unless you find a beach where a breeze has blown the surface water in (then you can get it up into the 70s).

Roads aren't primitive, but there is no Interstate. More your typical two-lane highway. So if it's prime season you can get stuck behind some slow-moving rigs and get annoyed (although they are building more and more places with passing lanes).

I could go on for hours. Anything more specific you'd like to know?

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Old 02-11-2009, 06:42 PM   #4
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I did the circle back in '65 with a couple of friends and a couple of tents. Much of it was over gravel roads back then but, like Raya says they are pretty good now. My wife and I have done the tour twice in the last 15 years with the Boler. There are pull-offs for fantastic views on the north shore and some nice Provincial Parks along the way. The south shore is a different type of landscape but every river or creek has a waterfall [and twenty signs]. There are booklets describing the whole tour available at the tourist info places near the border crossings. Take the tour, you could do it in about a week but two would be better. You won't regret it.
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Old 02-11-2009, 06:59 PM   #5
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I grew up in the central lower peninsula of Michigan. Now in Oklahoma, but I try to get back to that area for vacations as often as possible. It's definitely worth seeing!

When I was a kid my parents would take me to Canada (around White River, Wawa, Chapleau) for pike fishing. I always enjoyed the drive along hwy 17, seeing Lake Superior and the many small lakes here & there. I recall a very nice waterfall just a couple miles E of the hwy, south of Wawa. Best fish I ever ate was a brook trout caught in, I think, the Batchawana River (there's some rapids with pools) and cleaned and floured with salt/pepper and put right into the frying pan with some butter. Fresh fish is the best!

If you like trains, there's a day trip from Sault Ste. Marie ("the Soo") to Agawa Canyon; you can sit back and watch the scenery while someone else drives.

In Michigan, head to Tahquamenon Falls. Then north to Whitefish Point to see the little lighthouse museum. Farther west is the town of Grand Marais, with a pleasant little CG called Woodland Park on the big lake, and some sand dunes W of town. Continuing W you come to Munising, where you will want to take the boat tour of the Pictured Rocks Natl Lakeshore; be there on a sunny day and, if you can, take the sunset cruise (for best lighting and pictures); the captain's jokes will keep you laughing the whole way. Munising is also home to several waterfalls.

I have yet to see the Keweenaw Peninsula, but I hear there's plenty of nice sights. Continuing west there is a great municipal CG on the lake at Ontonagon. And just west of there is the Porcupine Mountains State Park. The east unit is at a high point looking out over Lake of the Clouds. The west unit has easy trails along a riverbank with 3 little waterfalls along the river in about a half mile or less, don't miss it.

I haven't been to the Apostle Islands area in Wisconsin but I think it bears some similarity to Pictured Rocks. I read that you can rent kayaks and paddle around all day with a guide.

The shoreline N of Duluth has a whole series of nice state parks with trails along rivers leading to waterfalls and pretty shoreline. At mile 57, don't miss Palisade Head... you will be standing at the top of a cliff with a sheer drop of about 300' to Lake Superior below. When I was there I got pics of a couple rappelling down and climbing up the cliff. And Split Rock Lighthouse is worth some pictures, too. Weekends along this MN "North Shore" the campgrounds can be full, but during the week I had no trouble getting sites... although one day I got the very last campsite at a state park, mid-afternoon. I think that was at Cascade River SP. I stopped along the highway and walked around the shore and up the river, and it was so nice I just had to get a site there and explore. There was a trail right from the campground back to the riverbank and the cascades (falls).

One caveat: I recall that around the last week of July into mid August, there would be lots of biting black flies along the Superior beaches in Michigan. But I was along the MN shore during early August and only saw a few, they weren't bad at all and I could stand right on the shore without misery. If you don't go at that time you won't have to worry about them anyhow.

There are other things to see if you like, such as mines, ore carriers, museums, old historic buildings and sites, etc. But I'm mostly interested in scenery so that is what I remember and can tell about. Go see for yourself, and have fun!
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Old 02-11-2009, 07:38 PM   #6
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We have covered that terrain, and I will agree with the others that it is a wonderful area to travel and explore. In the Michigan UP, after Tequamenon Falls, be sure to go on up to Whitefish point, and then just a bit west, if you have a good map, you will find Crisp Point, where there is a really nice lighthouse in a nice setting (my avatar is Crisp Point Light).

We then worked our way up to Copper Harbor on the peninsula, and then had to cancel the rest of our plans because we couldn't tear ourselves away! We spent a couple extra days there, and had a really nice time. In Copper Harbor, there is a German Gasthaus where I had probably the best restaurant meal I've ever had -- I highly recommend the Lake Michigan Trout. My wife had a sausage of some sort that she loved. The fort there was also quite interesting.

On the north shore, spend a little time near Duluth. There are some really nice parks on the Superior, WI side, and Duluth has a number of very nice museums, mansions and parks to visit.

Don't miss Split Rock Lightstation. Gooseberry Falls is gorgeous if it is running strong, and still worth the stop if it is slow. Near Two Harbors is a log cabin restaurant called, I think, The Lodge, which was outstanding. Kakabeka Falls is another nice park and well worth seeing. Old Fort Williams is simply amazing, and is a must-do if you care at all about history. Plan to spend the whole day. The amethyst mines are a fun stop.

Shoot -- you'll love it all, and the state and provincial parks were all quite nice. Just remember that the Trans-Canada Highway is life in the slow lane, so kick back, relax, and enjoy the ride.
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Old 02-11-2009, 08:16 PM   #7
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On the Michigan side, be sure to take the Pictured Rocks ferry ride near Munising. It's expensive, but well worth it. You get a spectacular view of the cliffs that you can't see from the shore. They're called Pictured Rocks because of the multi-colored mineral deposits which have run down the face of the cliffs, making interesting colored patterns. Munising Falls are nearby, too; very pretty.

In Marquette there is a great place called Sugar Loaf Mountain, just north of the NMU campus. You can hike/climb stairs to the top for a great view. Not too difficult if you're in average shape. Also a park called Presque Isle, which has a great view of a couple of lighthouses, and nice picnic facilities. No overnight camping, although there is a small city park where you can camp overnight.

Going to the Keweenaw Peninsula will be quite an experience. The last hour or so going north is through a tunnel of trees, with a double yellow no passing line all the way. Towing a small fiberglass RV won't be much of an issue, but if you get behind someone towing something bigger, take plenty of patience with you, because you cannot pass until you get to the northern tip of the peninsula. Again, the trip is well worth the view, and there are several excellent restaurants. Fort Wilkinson is quite interesting and you can see how the Indians did some primitive copper mining in the area. There's a good reason it's called the Copper Country.

And Lake of the Clouds in the Porcupine Mtns. near Ontonagon is lovely. Lots of good hiking and camping in that area.

Many other interesting places up there to see. Too many to list here. Do a lot of research to see what you're especially interested in. You can focus on primitive camping/hiking, or on the history of the area, or on the mining history, or even on waterfalls or lighthouses.

[Correction: It's Fort Wilkins, not Wilkinson]
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Old 02-11-2009, 09:15 PM   #8
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Anyone done this trip?
Robert and I did the wrong lake.
Ten years ago we went of in search of the house he was born in outside of Escanaba, Michigan.
We found it in the little hamlet of Groos, MI. His father built the house, and Robert's family moved to Southern California when he was 4.

After we left Escanaba, we went to Sault Saint Marie, then on highway 17 to Sudbury, and down highway 69 to Toronto.
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Old 02-11-2009, 10:50 PM   #9
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We are offended you came through Toronto and did not stop in for a visit.
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Old 02-12-2009, 12:02 AM   #10
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We drove/RVed a small part of that route in 2001 from Duluth, MN to Thunder Bay, Ontario Canada. We spend one night at Gooseberry Falls State Park (Waterfalls, the best visitor center, and most variety of scenic & recreational attractions. Good for day visit or extended stay. Campers are advised to make reservations in peak sesaon.) and visited Split Rock Lighthouse. Very nice drive with the scenery, but it was perhaps the worse road we have ever driven on (the MN section, Canada's was in good condition). We had to have the plumbing in the shower of the C-class motor home repaired after we got home, broken I am sure from the rough road.

We enjoyed the visiting Grand Portage National Monument ( ). The Monument is located in northeastern Minnesota's Tip of the Arrowhead within Grand Portage Indian Reservation, Cook County, Grand Portage, Minnesota. Grand Portage National Monument is about 150 miles northeast of Duluth, Minnesota and 50 miles southwest of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada along the beautiful north shore of Lake Superior. The historic site is to 1 mile south of the west and east exits from Minnesota State Highway 61 in the village of Grand Portage.

We drove around the city of Thunder Bay mainly to see the port area. We found a Ontario Visitor Center/Rest Area off the major interstate like highway out side of the city, it allowed over night camping. We spent the night there. A very nice place on a hill top. The next day we went to Fort William Historical Park. We enjoyed it very much.

There were many provincial parks in the area as well.

We drove back to Duluth and spend a night at a Wal-mart. Then we took a boat tour of the harbor the next morning. There would be more to see and do in Duluth as well as Thunder Bay, but we had a time restraint at the time. We had also driven over into Wisconsin just to say we had been in the state as we were getting to the city from the St. Paul area. We drove into the port area in Duluth on the first day. We crossed the Aerial Lift Bridge onto an island and went for a walk on a beach, my son did a little swimming in the way too cold lake water (in May). There were sea plane rides one could take at the end of the island as well. Neat homes on the island drive. A neat Lake Walk by the port and bridge as well with sculptures.

That is our experence in one section of your "Grand Tour".

Here is a link to the same subject on another forum:;hl=superior
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Old 02-12-2009, 07:46 AM   #11
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You've just landed on the bestttttttttt tripppppp everrrrrrrrrrr. Sharon and I did it with our Harley several years ago, tent camping along the way. We've been many places on that bike, mountains, deserts, oceans, etc., but we have the very fondest memories riding around Lake Superior, and right here where we live...Duluth! We drank in the pristine vistas, dumped a toad out of my boot, chased a bear away from our cooler, and ate fudge made on a marble slab. We'll do it again with our Scamp at the drop of the hat. Stop in to see us on your way around.
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Old 02-12-2009, 10:45 AM   #12
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I've been to Madeline Island in the Apostles. Rustic camping. Kinda cool. Plus a ferry ride. I liked it.

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There was another fiberglass trailer coming off just before I went on. Didn't get a chance to chat...just waved.

Castle Pretentious got her water wings crossing Lake Michigan on a 4 hour ferry ride. This one was barely 15 minutes.
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Old 02-12-2009, 11:42 AM   #13
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We drove/RVed a small part of that route in 2001 from Duluth, MN to Thunder Bay, Ontario Canada. ...Very nice drive with the scenery, but it was perhaps the worse road we have ever driven on (the MN section, Canada's was in good condition).
I think anyone who drives that now will find that Hwy. 61 in Minnesota is in excellent condition. It's been completely re-vamped over the last ten years or so, to the point where locals kind of miss the old road (it kept speeds down!).

This may not holdl true for the piece between Grand Portage and the border (less than an hour), but it does south of Grand Marais to Duluth (2-3 hours).

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Old 02-12-2009, 12:00 PM   #14
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I am thinking of this trip, but more in doing all the great lakes at once. how long you think it will be? I suppose two weeks won't be enough to adequetly cover all the Great Lakes, so maybe we'll have to do Lake Superior and the northern half of Lake Michigan in order to take the ferry into manitowac, WI from the MI side of the lake.

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