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Old 04-07-2015, 09:35 AM   #1
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Northern Minnesota

Considering a trip up there this summer because we've never been there. Interested in scenery, good food, bike riding, and kayaking.

Please comment on your thoughts.

How are the mosquitoes and black flies?
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Old 04-07-2015, 09:58 AM   #2
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The Minnesota State Park System along the Lake Superior Shoreline between Duluth and Thunder Bay is second to none - but that is not a secret - so check them out and make reservations.

Then consider crossing the border to Thunder Bay then west to Fort Frances - in Thunder Bay take in Old Fort William and the Terry Fox Monument - just outside of Thunder Bay on your way west you will want to stop to see Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park. Farther west Quetico Provincial Park has a car campground at Dawson Trail - nice spot for a couple or more days - you'll want campsite #'s 8 or 9 (both have electricity) or #14 (no electricity) - gorgeous view of French Lake and your own little private bit of shoreline. French Lake is great for day paddling - and is also a jump off for overnight tripping into the heart of Quetico.

Crossing back into the U.S. at Fort Frances/International Falls think about visiting Voyageur National Park - there are a few private campgrounds in the area that will host your Airstream if you want to explore the Park. It's a little different kind of park - lots of interior campsites accessible by boat.

Ely, Minnesota is a neat place - when we go for a visit we stay in the campground at Fortune Bay Resort and Casino. The town is a jump-off that caters to those canoe tripping in Boundary Waters Canoe Area and Quetico. Lots of outfitters - the Wolf Centre is a must-see, the Dorothy Molter museum is a great story and there are more.

Enjoy your trip - and if you do happen to get to Dawson Trail Campground in Quetico and see a 19' Bambi on one of those 3 sites - then drop by and say hello - good chance it will be us.

Have a great trip - it's a great part of the world.


Jay
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Old 04-07-2015, 10:05 AM   #3
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Check out the Arrowhead region and north shore of Lake Superior north of Duluth. Beautiful with plenty of bicycle routes and some of the best canoeing in the world. Make reservations early.

Unlikely you will turn on your air conditioner, but you might like a little heat in the morning.

Mosquitos. We joke about them but experienced campers know how to manage them. They like you in deep woods and the sunset hour best. We never use repellents and are outdoors until bedtime.

We like the month of June best when everything is fresh and new, some like Autumn months, but the entire summer is wonderful.
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Old 04-07-2015, 10:57 AM   #4
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Gooseberry Falls SP is a "must not miss" as is Two Harbors and Split Rock. Yes, I live in NC, but I was born in Minnesota and love going home....
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Old 04-07-2015, 11:07 AM   #5
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I've heard that due the thousands of lakes in Minnesota there is a bug problem. Is there a time of year to avoid the bugs (other than winter) or are the reports overblown.

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Old 04-07-2015, 12:44 PM   #6
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October

Quote:
Originally Posted by KJRitchie View Post
I've heard that due the thousands of lakes in Minnesota there is a bug problem. Is there a time of year to avoid the bugs (other than winter) or are the reports overblown.

Kelvin
We always try to go the first week in October, Bugs are gone, the little Bugger's are back in school, campgrounds are quiet through the week, and the leaves are spectacular. We like the Oberg mountain loop for a nice relaxing fall foliage walk. For eats we like the Northern Lights Cafe at Beaver Bay, and of course Sven & Ole's Pizza in Grand Marais. If you like getting lost on the backroads, the Trestle Inn is an awesome stop for some burgers out in the boonies, somewhere near Finland.
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Old 04-07-2015, 12:58 PM   #7
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Nothern Minnesota is beautiful.

Be sure to drive the North Shore, from Duluth all the way up, and make a left turn on the Gunflint Trail just north of Grand Marais.

Access to the Boundary Waters at the end of that trail, and some lovely Lake Superior NF camping available.

Mosquitoes can be bad many places in this country in the summer, but the farther north you get the less likely you are to have serious problems, in my experience.

A beautiful part of the country. The Bear Center in Ely is worth a stop, too.


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Old 04-07-2015, 02:01 PM   #8
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North Country, Black Flies and Mosquitoes are synonymous.

We've lived in Northern Ontario for 45 years - we know .....

Having said that ......

Some years are worse than others,
Some months are worse than others,
Some days are worse than others,
Some times of day are worse than others,
Some places are a lot worse than others,

And having said that ......

There are as many bug sprays, deterrents, zappers and even medications as there are mosquitoes and black flies.

Be especially prepared during the early spring months (May, June) - but recognize that a wet summer and fall can extend the "bug season" considerably.

Our own "arsenal" includes:
  • Pic Coils (for inside the trailer - just in case - not often used),
  • OFF spray (with DEET) (for the really bad days - not often used)
  • Skintastic cream (the most comfortable short term remedy for outdoors - use it sometimes),
  • battery operated citronella dispersant (for outside table - used on calm days if needed)
  • butane operated bug repellant (for outside table - used on calm days if needed)

And having said all this .......

You can avoid tapping into your arsenal if:
  1. you do your best to get a shoreline campsite with an on-shore breeze
  2. you wear light coloured clothing
  3. you recognize that early morning and late evening might be worse times - so adjust your activities - campfire before you are forced to "bug out".

And finally:

If you have a pooch or cat then talk to your vet about a treatment that will protect them - this is especially important if you plan on visiting north-central and north-western Minnesota (as well as Northwestern Ontario) during those same early spring months - this is also tick country. The product your vet will sell you is based on the size of the animal and very effective for ticks and also for mosquitoes.

The last word:

During May and June the occasional bad day will be memorable - but simply change your activity for those days - and it is not hard to work around the rest.


Jay
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Old 04-07-2015, 04:40 PM   #9
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Considering a trip up there this summer because we've never been there. Interested in scenery, good food, bike riding, and kayaking.
Very little in the way of truly fantastic food north of Minneapolis, but Duluth has a number of places that are very good.

State parks are all reservation based now. By this time of year they will be full for most weekends. Private campgrounds are generally a better bet. In the Duluth area, I have stayed at the Lakehead Boat Basin (a marina where you park right next to Lake Superior, city feel but close to everything) and Ogston's RV park, which is some distance from Duluth, more spacious and quiet.

Many if not most of the fishing resorts in the area have a few RV sites they will rent out, sometimes just 4 so they can avoid the regulatory burden of being a campground under state law.

For boondocking, I like the American Falls county campground, which has four or five free sites with no water or electricity.

Quote:
How are the mosquitoes and black flies?
They are problematic and in many cases can spoil a trip. Be sure your trailer is mosquito proof -- I had to caulk the window latch levers on my then-new 2010 Classic to achieve this. We have started using permethrin based fogging sprays to treat the grass and vegetation in our campsite in some cases. As others point out, there is local, seasonal, and weather-based variation.
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Old 04-07-2015, 05:48 PM   #10
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We at the lake in lakes country. In summer a different bug emerges from the lake almost weekly, none of which care about your protein. But they can be a marvel in themselves as they swarm and dance in the air at sunset, and feed the dragon flies and Martins and Swallows during the evening.

There is no bug "problem" that we know of. Bug poisons are for tourists who have not learned the habits, cycles and daily times of the mosquitos. The poisons can really stink up the place and are probably not good for you.

Do come and enjoy the beauty and weather of a northern Minnesota summer.
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Old 04-07-2015, 06:17 PM   #11
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Cigars as well as a campfire. Even if you don't smoke them.....buy cheap ones and puff a cloud. Helps a lot.
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Old 04-07-2015, 07:34 PM   #12
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One thing about campfires. On a summer evening, especially about sunset when mosquitos are most active, the heat and maybe the light of the fire can attract them. Avoid lanterns, let your eyes adjust to the night.

After sunset when the air cools, it is much better. Note that sunset is very late in mid-summer, so early or late campfires can be better. An open area next to the lake is better and cooler, mosquitos worse near dense woods in the evening. Long sleeves and pants are good protection when they are out.
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Old 04-07-2015, 08:28 PM   #13
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When the French cour de bois came here more than one of them was driven to madness by the mosquitos.
According to Francis Parkman jr the mosquitos were worse than hostile Indians and the hostile climate.
I grew up in central MN and when all my cousins used to come there in the summer - from TX, MO and OR they always used to get big welts all over them from the mosquitos. I guess we were inured to them because though we got bit just like they did (and hated it) at least we didn't get the welts which itched for a day or two afterwards.
We used to call them our piebald cousins because of their summer tans and pink calamine lotion.
But...
Science has come a long way with insect repellents which don't smell bad and are not oily like they used to be. So you'll be ok.
Here we think there is no one more fetching than a woman who wears the fragrance of deet.
There are a lot of lovely places in MN. Our lakes and rivers and forests are awesome.
So do come.
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Old 04-07-2015, 08:40 PM   #14
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Y'all are certain to drive down tourism in Minnesota, sounding like swarms of mosquitoes are waiting to attack as soon as one steps outside.

I have been to Northern MN many, many times, and only once experienced crazy mosquito issues, and that was when a recent rain had left standing water.

Have stayed with friends, roamed all over the northern half of the state, and spent a lot of time in Superior NF, the North Shore and the Gunflint Trail. Never experienced a serious mosquito issue but the one time, several years ago.

Have usually been there in August, being told that was a good time to go.

Reading all these posts, I'm thinking "this is not the Northern MN I have experienced".


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