Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
 
Old 09-17-2012, 09:41 AM   #1
2 Rivet Member
 
2008 23' International CCD
Denver , Colorado
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 99
Aurora Borealis in Boundary Waters?

We are heading to Grand Marais, MN and Gunflint Trail next week (Sept., 2012) in search of the wiley northern lights and spectacular Fall colors (Colorado aspen colors are grand, but I miss the rich colors of the northern forests).
Any suggestions for campgrounds and northern lights viewing locations (we hear a 3 mile hike to South Lake provides a spectacular viewpoint) would be helpful.

Jim and Marsha
"Stream of Consciousness"
__________________

__________________
Jim and Marsha
"Stream of Consciousness"
AIR #35886
JimmyT is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-17-2012, 09:44 AM   #2
Rivet Master
 
1977 Argosy 24
Currently Looking...
Milltown , Wisconsin
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 1,069
The public campground right in Grand Marais is nice. It puts you right next to the lake. It should not be crowded this time of the year also.
__________________

__________________
ventport is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-17-2012, 10:07 AM   #3
2 Rivet Member
 
2008 23' International CCD
Denver , Colorado
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 99
That sounds great; thanks. The lake we've heard of is only 35 miles up Gunflint so maybe we stay in Grand Marais and just drive out to find the N. Lights. My guess is there will be several opportunities along that road with likes to the north to provide unhindered views.
__________________
Jim and Marsha
"Stream of Consciousness"
AIR #35886
JimmyT is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-17-2012, 10:18 AM   #4
Rivet Master
 
RangerJay's Avatar
 
2002 19' Bambi
Northwestern Ontario , - on the backside of the map and just above the big green spot
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 818
Images: 44
If you aren't already hooked into this you can use it to help decide which night might be the best bet. Just change the map from the Alaska map to North America.

Aurora Forecast | Geophysical Institute

Good Luck.


Jay
__________________
Bambi - 2002 (The Toaster)
Pathfinder - 2009 (The Buggy)

"I'm not young enough to know everything ....."
(Oscar Wilde)
RangerJay is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-17-2012, 10:35 AM   #5
Rivet Master
 
Gene's Avatar
 
2008 25' Safari FB SE
Grand Junction , Colorado
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 10,840
I would suggest a better chance of seeing them just outside of the lights of Yellowknife, NWT, but there are no campgrounds there. We saw the aurora there and at Eagle Plains along the Dempster Hwy in northern Yukon. They can be seen further south, but it gets better as you go north. Obviously you don't intend to go that far north.

Jay's link is one of several that make predictions about the aurora.

It is a hit or miss thing—will they be there and will we be up at the right time? I would get up around 1 or 2 am (sometimes my wife would, sometimes not) and go outside looking for it—only one time did that work. You need to be in a dark place to really see them—the Gunflint Trail is ideal, but Grand Marais will have street lights. The time in Eagle Plains I got up later and just happened to notice them through the window. It is easier to not get up in the middle of the night, but seeing the aurora is well worth the agony of the alarm going off at 2 am.

Gene
__________________
Gene is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-17-2012, 10:57 AM   #6
Rivet Master<br><img src="/ugala/forums/images/5rivet.gif">
 
CanoeStream's Avatar

 
2006 25' Safari FB SE
St. Cloud , Minnesota
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 13,279
Images: 19
Blog Entries: 3
Full moon is September 30th, so evening skies won't be spectacular until 3-5 days later. Northern lights don't put in regular appearances in northern Minnesota. It takes a fairly strong solar storm to bring them overhead this far south. We've made a lot of Boundary Waters trips and can count maybe three random times we've seen aurora in the distant north.

We spent 5 nights at Grand Marais' municipal campground a week ago. Susie always says 'Take me to Grand Marais, I'll tell you when I want to leave.' She hasn't bailed yet. Dang home duties! Grand Marais campground has too many lights for decent stargazing. For the water-electric sites, we like 157, 158 or 159. Ask when they turn water off in the loops - Oct 1? Oct 15? But they do allow camping year around IIRC. Brr! The Angry Trout restaurant is open May 1 to Oct 28th -- fresh Lake Superior fish is always good there -- herring or whitefish beats lake trout hands down. The other good restaurant we like is Crooked Spoon on Wisconsin Street -- the main downtown street facing the bay. The Pie Place is a great spot for breakfast or take-out scones or pie. Gunflint Tavern is decent, serving better-than-bar-food from a menu that never changes -- fair enough for the first few visits.

We've camped at the first-come-first-serve national forest campground at Kimball Lake a dozen miles up the Gunflint from Grand Marais. I'd think you'd have no trouble finding space at any campground this time of year. It has good pit toilets and you fill water alongside the lane driving in. Nice trout fishing can be had there or on adjacent Mink Lake. Mink Lake has a fishing dock but we usually have a canoe along. There are a lot of trees in this campground but it is a good dark sky site.

Trails End campground all the way at the end of the Gunflint is nice. It is reservable and does tend to be popular. Sites 4 & 5 work well and have great elevated views of the lake and sky. 6-9 are too small and one risks having to back all the way out if you pull a trailer down there. Canoeing is the only significant activity out there. There are several outfitters within a short distance that might rent a canoe for day activities but you'd have to call ahead this late in the season. The last 22 miles out the Gunflint are rather desolate from a number of fires over the years, but trees in Trails End RV loops have escaped for the most part. Landscape pictures here.

We've driven through most nat'l forest campgrounds along the Gunflint -- a forest & lake experience in general.

Leaves are a mixed bag. It's been very dry in the Arrowhead this year and locals up there don't know what this will do to timing. A moderate hike with spectacular leaf viewing is Oberg Mountain ~ 20 miles SW of Grand Marais. This was last Oct 2nd - Click image for larger version

Name:	Oct 2 2011.jpg
Views:	64
Size:	349.1 KB
ID:	168517

A bit more rigorous all-day hike is up Eagle Mountain -- the highest point in MN. A pretty straightforward hike for fit individuals carrying their own food & water. Nice views from up there but not a place you'd be after dark.

The local radio station morning talk covers a lot of small town topics from 7-10 AM Central Time -- WTIP North Shore Community Radio, Cook County, Minnesota

....................................

.



[on edit: Realize that Trails End is 57 miles inland from Grand Marais and literally is the end of the road. You can pay a modest sum to dump at the Grand Marais campground when you come back down to the shore. Free dumping is available in Silver Bay 55 miles toward Duluth from Grand Marais. Full list of sites at Trails End that would work for travel trailers:
1, 2 & 3 are large sites that will fit a large motorhome with plenty of room left over. I think site 1 has a view to water through light forest cover.
4 & 5 - on a rocky prominence high above the water
10 - about a 50' elliptical opening at end of narrow campground lane
11 - maybe just big enough for a 25' trailer & TV? 22-23 footer - more of a sure thing. The pad area still is small and confined between rock and trees. Some slope to pad. Nice overlook over a backwater and easy, somewhat open roaming downhill.

The second loop at Trails end is for tenting or very small pop-ups only.

There is a small, interesting local history museum near Trails End.]
__________________
Bob

5 meter Langford Nahanni

CanoeStream is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-17-2012, 11:22 AM   #7
Rivet Master
 
Gene's Avatar
 
2008 25' Safari FB SE
Grand Junction , Colorado
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 10,840
I'll confirm the Angry Trout restaurant in Grand Marais is very good. If you really need pizza, Sven and Ole's is ok, but I think it is overrated. The municipal CG in Grand Marais is good—we stayed there, but I think wifi was extra several years ago. I found a hot spot downtown.

We stayed at Gunflint Pines Resort and CG. The RV sites are basic and we had water and electric; dump station on way out. The owners were very nice and when we limped in with a bad wheel bearing, they guided us to places to get parts. The lakeside sites have a nice view of the lake; Ontario is on the other side. We drove through Trails End CG and it looked nice.

We look forward to revisiting the area and liked Grand Marais and the Gunflint Trail (if you are lucky, you'll see a moose along the way) more than the other side of the Boundary Waters at Ely.

Gene
__________________
Gene is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-17-2012, 12:29 PM   #8
Rivet Master
 
1977 Argosy 24
Currently Looking...
Milltown , Wisconsin
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 1,069
Quote:
Originally Posted by RangerJay View Post
If you aren't already hooked into this you can use it to help decide which night might be the best bet. Just change the map from the Alaska map to North America.

Aurora Forecast | Geophysical Institute

Good Luck.


Jay
OK I give up, how do you change the map? I live in Wisconsin.
__________________
ventport is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-17-2012, 01:15 PM   #9
Rivet Master<br><img src="/ugala/forums/images/5rivet.gif">
 
CanoeStream's Avatar

 
2006 25' Safari FB SE
St. Cloud , Minnesota
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 13,279
Images: 19
Blog Entries: 3
ventport, there is a 'Select a Map' section along the left side of that linked page. Click either of the two right side choices to see a display that gives an indication what we might see from the U.S.

I'm updating my post above about other workable sites for travel trailers at Trails End campground.
__________________
Bob

5 meter Langford Nahanni

CanoeStream is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-17-2012, 01:35 PM   #10
Rivet Master
 
Splitrock's Avatar
 
Currently Looking...
Sioux Falls , South Dakota
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 2,398
Blog Entries: 20
I stayed at Gunflint Lodge campground a few years ago with my family. It's really nice and the owners were super! I don't know about any lights. We ate, rented their pontoon, ate, rented their canoes, and ate. We planned to stay 3 days . . . I think we ended up staying 5.

Gunflint Lodge, Minnesota resort-families, fishermen, honeymooners

We canoed 2 miles to a waterfall the lodge owners directed us to and we had a picnic lunch there. Very nice!
__________________
Click on the link to see a picture of the Sioux River falls near my home.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v1...g?t=1278182564
Eastern South Dakota is very pretty with hills, rivers, and trees.
Splitrock is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-17-2012, 02:04 PM   #11
Rivet Master
 
RangerJay's Avatar
 
2002 19' Bambi
Northwestern Ontario , - on the backside of the map and just above the big green spot
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 818
Images: 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by CanoeStream View Post
Full moon is September 30th, so evening skies won't be spectacular until 3-5 days later. Northern lights don't put in regular appearances in northern Minnesota. It takes a fairly strong solar storm to bring them overhead this far south. We've made a lot of Boundary Waters trips and can count maybe three random times we've seen aurora in the distant north.
We live roughly 100 KM north of Grand Marais - and Bob is right - Northern Lights do not put in a regular appearance - but having said that - they are not uncommon either - which is why following the forecasts is helpful. In the past we have been fortunate enough to be able to watch them directly from our back yard - but we've now lived there long enough that the trees on our property have grown tall enough to be an obstruction .....

If you do not get the opportunity to see the Northern Lights - you will find that the stars of a northern night sky - when not washed out by the lights of a city - are pretty spectacular all by themselves.



Jay
__________________
Bambi - 2002 (The Toaster)
Pathfinder - 2009 (The Buggy)

"I'm not young enough to know everything ....."
(Oscar Wilde)
RangerJay is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-17-2012, 08:56 PM   #12
Rivet Master<br><img src="/ugala/forums/images/5rivet.gif">
 
CanoeStream's Avatar

 
2006 25' Safari FB SE
St. Cloud , Minnesota
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 13,279
Images: 19
Blog Entries: 3
Jay, very true. Our TV local weather frequently will note when large solar eruptions are aimed at earth and when to expect possible northern lights a couple days later. Residing at 45į33′ N (north but relatively close to the Twin Cities), we have seen some wonderful displays from our yard. But it takes something exceptional to compete with city glow. We hear that strong displays are occasionally seen a couple states south. JimmyT does have the right idea. "I'm headed north and toward the dark..." It pays to ask!

The Canadian Shield is the huge rock foundation under this area and much of central Canada. North Shore rivers have ground some wonderful gorges on their way down to Lake Superior. The trails at Temperance River State Park are dramatic and convenient, with roadside access on Hwy 61 along the North Shore. My favorite is Cascade River State Park -- but the section I like there starts about 500' inland from Hwy 61.

A teaser from the Java Moose's deck on Wisconsin St. in Grand Marais last Monday morning. That's a trailer at the campground over at far right:

Click image for larger version

Name:	Grand Marais harbor.jpg
Views:	61
Size:	150.7 KB
ID:	168599
__________________
Bob

5 meter Langford Nahanni

CanoeStream is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-18-2012, 08:59 PM   #13
2 Rivet Member
 
2008 23' International CCD
Denver , Colorado
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 99
Jay?! What? You watch the NLights from your back deck? OMG, as the kids say. That's so spoiled (then again, we sit in the middle of the Rocky Mountains when we go to our favorite camping spot - our own 5 acres in the Rockies). We don't expect to see them as soon as we drive up, certainly. And we respect the probability that we won't see any at all. But as somebody I don't know once said, "The adventure is found along the way to wherever...". We're gonna have fun even if we have to hike the highest point in Minnesota in the snow (yes, I looked at the weather - a high of 60 is forecast for next week! It's been 90 here in Denver for years - well, okay, much of the summer anyway).
__________________
Jim and Marsha
"Stream of Consciousness"
AIR #35886
JimmyT is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-18-2012, 09:04 PM   #14
2 Rivet Member
 
2008 23' International CCD
Denver , Colorado
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 99
Bob, what a nice photo from Grand Marais.

Thank you, everybody, for all the suggestions. And CrawfordGene, my wife is in your neck of the Colorado woods, Paonia, overnight rescuing some extra vegetables from an organic farm up on the mesa to bring to food banks here in Denver. And CanoeStream, the campsite recommendations will be priceless. Thanks again.

The propane tanks are full; looks like the batteries are shot and we'll have to replace those before we go; and we're OFF on Saturday morning for the North Country. I'm thinking "North, To Alaska" but that's a few states to the north and west. But you get the picture....
__________________

__________________
Jim and Marsha
"Stream of Consciousness"
AIR #35886
JimmyT is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Short Tour of Louisiana kingfisher24 On The Road... 36 03-29-2011 09:43 AM


Virginia Campgrounds

Reviews provided by




Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 10:47 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

Airstream is a registered trademark of Airstream Inc. All rights reserved. Airstream trademark used under license to Social Knowledge LLC.