Tettegouche State Park is one of the most popular Minnesota State Parks, and is located on the North Shore of Minnesota. It’s known for the cliffs on the shore of Lake Superior, and being one of the best spots for seeing the fall colors in September and October.
We ended up visiting Tettegouche State Park, after writing our previous post about Minnesota State Parks, and hiked some of the trails! Unfortunately, a good amount of the park was closed due to a special deer hunt, so we weren’t able to see everything, but we definitely got a good taste of what the park is all about.
History of Tettegouche State Park
Tettegouche State Park is located about a little over an hour drive northeast of Duluth. If you don’t know, Duluth is the largest city located on the coast of Lake Superior, and shares the largest shipping port on the Great Lakes, Twin Ports. Twin Ports is split between Superior, Wisconsin and Duluth, Minnesota, hence, the name “Twin Ports”.
Tettegouche State Park is named after the Tettegouche Club, who purchased the land in 1910 from a lumber company. The Tettegouche Club ended up selling the land to another group, and then that group sold the land to the State of Minnesota in 1979. From there, the State of Minnesota combined the land with Baptism River State Park to form what is now known as Tettegouche State Park.
Overview of Tettegouche State Park
Tettegouche State Park is home to 6 inland lakes and the highest waterfall located solely in Minnesota, High Falls. They were super original with the name.
There are 22 miles of trails, and these trails aren’t the easiest of trails all the time either. Tettegouche State Park has numerous waterfalls, which is a result of the area being quite rocky and steep at certain points within the park. So, if you’re up for some stairs and a workout, Tettegouche State Park is the place for you.
Given its terrain, Tettegouche State Park is one of four Minnesota State Parks to have rock climbing. You can even rock climb right on the coast of Lake Superior! Experience level needed range within the Tettegouche State Park too. Some of the spots are for more beginner rock climbers, and others are for those who are experts. If rock climbing at Tettegouche State Park is of interest to you, check out this post!
Unlike some of the Michigan State Parks we talked about in a previous blog post, you can camp year-round at Tettegouche State Park. Disclaimer: It does get quite cold in the winter. Remember, it is Northern Minnesota.
If you’re looking for the perfect time to visit Tettegouche State Park, visiting the park in the Fall is highly recommended. The optimal dates we’ve seen are between September 20 and October 15. That’s when the fall colors are usually at peak colors. We visited right after peak time though, and it was still gorgeous. The views of Lake Superior are breathtaking and can definitely make Earth feel like a great place to live.
One note: each state has different laws for using aerial drones within their state parks. In Minnesota State Parks, aerial drones are not allowed to be flown. So, if you’re planning on flying your aerial drone within Tettegouche State Park, you probably want to rethink that. We know it’s sad since aerial footage from Tettegouche State Park would be stunning any time of the year, but safety is a priority. Especially since there are usually high winds coming off Lake Superior that could crash an aerial drone.
When we visited Tettegouche State Park, this was the only part of the State Park that was open. There was a special deer hunt that closed the rest of the park. However, this has to be one of the best places at the park. Shovel Point is about a 1 mile hike from the rest stop on Hwy 61.
There is a new rest stop on Hwy 61 that is part of Tettegouche State Park, and we’ve never ranked the best rest stops, but if we did, this has to be one the best rest stops in Minnesota, and probably the Midwest. It’s not the typical gas station rest stop, and there’s even a nice little gift shop in it too. The items they had there looked pretty nice! Plus, it doesn’t hurt that there are beautiful views of Lake Superior right behind the rest stop building. If you’re there in the summer, there’s even tables and chairs to sit and relax. Feels like a nice outdoor café!
To get to Shovel Point, there is good signage, but you want to go behind the rest stop and take the trail left. Most of the trail has new steps and a wooden pathway built out. This makes it a lot easier in the winter with ice. If you follow the pathway, it’ll take you straight to Shovel Point where you can look out over Lake Superior.
If you’re going to Shovel Point with kids though, you’ll want to keep a close eye on them. There aren’t any railings on the cliffs at Shovel Point, so if you get too close to the edge, it can be pretty dangerous. Especially during the winter when there could be black ice on the edges. When we were visiting there, it did it icy pretty quick since the water was splashing up onto some parts of the cliffs.
Once you arrive to Shovel Point though, the views are incredible. The waves crashing onto the cliffs are a reminder of how powerful Lake Superior can be, but they’re peaceful in some ways too. This is a spot where you can take a deep breath, and just take it all in. Get that fresh air!
If you only have a limited amount of time at Tettegouche State Park, we highly recommend taking a minute to check out Shovel Point. It’s worth it.
We weren’t able to see either of the High Falls on our trip to Tettegouche, but they are certainly worth seeing!
High Falls is the more popular falls at Tettegouche State Park, mainly because the High Falls are the tallest falls located solely in the State of Minnesota. To make it more confusing, the High Falls of the Pigeon River are the tallest falls, but those are split between the Minnesota and Ontario border. The High Falls at Tettegouche State Park are on the Baptism River where we spent our time using the Fathom One as well.
The High Falls are about a 3-mile hike there and back, but it depends on where you park. There are some parts of the trail there that are flat, but a good amount of the trail are steps. Luckily, most of the steps on the trail are relatively new since a large part of Tettegouche State Park has been updated.
Once you arrive to the High Falls, there are multiple spots to see the falls from different vantage points. You can view the High Falls from the bottom of the falls, or the top of the falls. There are steps that allow you to go down to the bottom of the falls if you are interested in seeing them from both vantage points!
One cool vantage point at the High Falls is the metal suspension bridge. That allows you to look over the top of the falls before the water goes over the edge. It’s a cool vantage point as you can see over the trees that are at the bottom of the falls.
If you are traveling with children, there are a lot more railings at High Falls compared to Shovel Point that we mentioned earlier. However, you’ll still want to keep an eye on them as you don’t want them to fall in. Additionally, it can be a muddy trail on the way to High Falls. Be prepared to get a bit messy!
If you’re a photographer and at Tettegouche State Park, High Falls should be on your list of must see. It’s a beautiful spot year-round and definitely photogenic. Especially if you decide to visit Tettegouche in the fall when the leaves are changing color.
Overall, Tettegouche State Parks definitely lived up to the hype of being one of the best state parks in Minnesota. Heck, it might even be one of the best state parks in the Midwest or United States in general. We’ll have to visit some more state parks to find out J It’s a spot worth checking out, but if you go in the winter, be prepared for the cold. We were freezing!
If you decide to bring a Fathom One there, we recommend going to the spot we went to, which is right at the beach on Lake Superior and the mouth of the Baptism River. The water is slightly red, but relatively clear! You might even see some fish with your Fathom One if you visit!