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We are looking at a summer trip to the North Shore of Minnesota. We live in west-central MN and would like to drive to Duluth and arrive on Saturday, July 17. We plan to go to the airshow on Sunday, July 18. After touring Duluth a bit, we would like to make our way up to Grand Portage stopping at interesting sites along the way. From there we would like to make our way over to see the Soudan Underground Mine (Ely area) and then the Hill Annex Mine (Grand Rapids/Hibbing area), lastly we would like to spend some time at Itasca State Park.

If we were going to do all this in a week so we could arrive at our home (about 2-3 hours from Itasca) on Sunday, July 25, where would you recommend we stay and for how long. You don't have to recommend certain campgrounds unless you'd like to, but even a general area like "around Grand Marais for two nights" would be helpful. I'd like to make reservations now but I just don't have a good feel for how much time to spend where.

We have 4.5 and 7 year old children so we need to keep in mind activities they will enjoy as well. We will be pulling a 33 foot 5th wheel.

Thank you!
Jerry S
Hi Wal1,

Since you live in MN, I am surprised that you are not more familiar with the North Shore from Duluth to Grand Portage. I have done the road several times over the years and stayed in Duluth as recently as 2 summers ago. That said, I think the key for your trip is that you will have 2 young kids to keep happy (parks with playgrounds and pools, for example). Once you head northeast from Duluth, these kinds of RV parks are almost non-existent.

In the Duluth area, I think the most intesting place to "camp" is Lakehead Basin (or a name close to that) - check the reviews on this site.) It can be difficult to get a site at the park and, I would imagine, even more so on a weekend with a local air show going on. I don't know if there is a way to do so at this time of year, but I would try to contact them as soon as possible if you want to stay at this park the first weekend of your trip.

I've never stayed at any of the other parks listed under Duluth and, from reading the reviews, none of them seem that impressive. I have, however, stayed at the KOA in Cloquet, MN just southwest of Duluth and Northland Camping in Supeior, WI. They both have pools and things o keep kids occuppied. You can drive into Duluth easily from these parks.

On the North Shore, I have stayed only at Grand Marais (City Park) and Grand Portage (a small casino parking area for RVs). You can see their reviews , as well as others along the road, on this site. If you don't see a park between Duluth and Grand Marasis that appeals to you, you could use the park in Grand Marais as a base for days trips. Among the many sights along the road are Gooseberry Falls, Split Rock Lighthouse, and Grand Portage National Monument at the Canadian border.

As far as your schedule goes, it appears that you will be spending at least 2 days (Sat. and Sun.) in the Duluth area. You might even want to add Monday if you are staying at Cloquet or Superior and enjoy the park. It would be nice if you could find a place to stay between Duluth and Grand Marais for one night, but if not, I see no problem spending the the rest of your time parked at Grand Marais (to use as a touring base as previously mentioned). This park is quite popular in the summer, so you may have a problem getting Fri. and Sat. at the end of your trip. So my suggestion is: 2-3 days in Duluth area, one day enroute (Two Harbors or Silver Bay or a state park), and 3-4 days at Grand Marais. From the information in your post, you can make it home from Grand Marais in 5-6 hours on Sunday.

Good luck with the planning and enjoy the trip.
I am familiar with what there is to see in the area, I just don't have a feel for how much time to spend along the way. We live about 6 hours from Duluth and that much more from Grand Marais/Portage areas so we have never been north of Duluth. You may have missed from my post, that we want to go to the mines in the Hibbing and Ely areas and to Itasca also.

Thank you for the reply. I was thinking we could use Grand Marais as a base also for some amount of time (2 days?).

QUOTE(Jerry S. @ Mar 23 2010, 11:28 PM) *

So my suggestion is: 2-3 days in Duluth area, one day enroute (Two Harbors or Silver Bay or a state park), and 3-4 days at Grand Marais. From the information in your post, you can make it home from Grand Marais in 5-6 hours on Sunday.

Good luck with the planning and enjoy the trip.

Jerry S
Hi again wal1,

Sorry, I somehow missed the fact that you also wanted to visit the Hibbing/Ely/Grand Rapids area and their points of interest. The only park I have stayed at in that area has been the Fortune Bay Casino RV Park in Tower (between Ely and Virginia) because the parks in the the other towns did not have what I like in a park. This casino park is part of a large resort complex (casino, fishing and boating facilities, RV park, golf course) on Lake Vermillion. There are no sewers at the sites but there is a dump station. Further west, I have have stayed at the KOA in Bemidji several times and have always enjoyed their facilities (Full hook-ups, cable, WIFI, pool, playground, family atmosphere). There is another park in the Bemidji area that sounds decent. That leaves you just hours from home on Sunday if you stay in Bemidji on Saturday.

So, to revise my first schedule: 2 nights in the Duluth area, 2 nights at Grand Marais, 1-2 nights in the Ely to Grand Rapids area, and 1-2 nights int Bemidji area.

Again, sorry for misunderstanding your original post. I hope this revised information is of some help.
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