Follow Us On Twitter Follow Us On Instagram Friend Us On Facebook

Pollution and Lake Superior

Lake Superior is the cleanest and clearest of the Great Lakes thanks to low amounts of nutrients, sediments, and organic material, even so, it is still impacted by pollution. Because the Lake’s shores are not as developed with cities and industries as the other Great Lakes, the Lake has never suffered from pollution in ways many other lakes do. This lets the wildlife that call Lake Superior home flourish and enjoy a healthy life.


However, this type of pollution is only part of the story. All the Great Lakes suffer pollution from the atmosphere that contaminates the lake through rain, snow, and dry particles. Almost all the toxic pollution found in Lake Superior, like mercury, PCB’s, and persistent contaminants, come from the atmosphere.


The challenge with Lake Superior is to keep it as clean as it is now and to clean up the problems that have been found. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is tackling the restoration and protection of Lake Superior through a number of approaches. Using a geographically based approach to water quality protection and restoration will enable them to identify water quality problems. Also, working with communities to spread the word and develop effective pollutant-reduction strategies is crucial.

Posted on December 19th, 2016 in Uncategorized |

How to spot a wolf

If you’re looking to spot a wolf on the North Shore, there are a couple things you should know. Encounters with wolves can occur throughout any time of the year, but the most frequent encounters happen during the late winter months. This happens for a couple of reasons. One being that the deep snow concentrates the deer that they prey on and make it easier for them to hunt. Another, and maybe the most important reason, is Lake Superior freezes over and enables the wolves to stalk their prey out onto the ice for an even easier kill.

One interesting fact is that wolves actually use the ice to their advantage when hunting deer. They tend to surround them along the shoreline and eventually get them out onto the ice to kill them. A lot of the time you will see a flock of ravens surrounding the carcass of the deer to pick up the remains of what the wolves left behind. If not on the ice, many motorists on Highway 61 have spotted the wolves late at night preying on the roadkill that was left behind.

If you have the chance, be sure to be out around dawn to spot a wolf, as this is their most busy time of the day. Then, walk down to the shoreline that isn’t visible from the highway and keep your eyes peeled. Make sure to bring a pair of binoculars because you will want to keep your distance. Also, dress warm with plenty of layers, and if you’re not lucky enough to encounter a wolf, you’ll at least get to witness the beauty of a North Shore sunrise.

Posted on December 13th, 2016 in Uncategorized |

Upper Manitou Forest Preserve: The Home of 300-Year-Old Maples

If you’re looking to find some of the largest trees on the North Shore, the Upper Manitou Forest Preserve is the place to go. It includes one of the best remaining examples of the “North Shore”, according to ecologists. The 2,450 acre preserve is full of sugar maple, yellow birch, white spruce, and white cedar that are estimated to be more than 300 years old. Some even require two or more arm lengths to reach around the trunks, which is significant for a maple tree, especially along the North Shore where maples tend to grow slowly due to the climate.

The Nature Conservancy selected this site because they felt that people should be able to experience the one-of-a-kind North Shore forest in its self-sustaining condition: as one tree dies, another grows, creating a circle of life effect. Without it, the migratory songbirds and other species roaming the area wouldn’t have a place to call home.

The Conservancy is doing something unique with the Upper Manitou Forest Preserve that is fairly new to Northeast Minnesota. They are working with key landowners in the area to acquire environmentally sensitive lands to preserve, maintain, and restore. Currently, the Conservancy is compiling a forest inventory for the entire preserve that will include a map of all forest types, as well as different data on the many ecosystems that are found in the preserve.

The preserve is located in Lake County, which is northeast of Finland, Minnesota. From Finland, visitors should drive on Lake County Route 7 past the Crosby-Manitou State Park entrance (the entrance is 8.5 miles from Finland) then take a left two miles past the state park entrance (or about 10.5 miles from Finland) onto Earl West Road. Drive 3.5 miles to the area marked with a TNC preserve sign.

Note: Earl West Road passes through private property – please be respectful. It is also impassable to vehicles most winters and during the spring thaw and periods of heavy rain. So, don’t hesitate to pack your snowshoes or hiking boots on your next trip to the area. We assure you that the incredible experience of being in such rare old-growth forest will be worth the extra work!

Posted on December 7th, 2016 in Uncategorized |

Two Harbors Breakwall

Two Harbors Breakwall

One of Two Harbors many famous attractions, the Two Harbors breakwall, is really a spectacular piece of art. Native Americans first called this place Wass-we-winning, or “place to spear fish by torchlight”, and the first European settlers actually set up shop right here in 1856.

You will find the breakwall at the end of a parking lot in Two Harbors. It is made of giant boulders stretching out almost one-third of a mile through Agate Bay. Agate’s Bay harbor is home to the industries that were most influential in making Two Harbors known: lumber and pulpwood, commercial fishing, and iron ore industries. As you walk out to the wall you will notice dock number 1, which was the largest iron ore loading dock at the time.

dsc_0096_2The breakwall itself is extraordinary. Its huge boulders and cement walls stop the waves from crashing into the shore and give the harbor calm waters for boats to pass through. A hundred years ago the breakwall was not connected to the shore. Instead, a lighthouse keeper had to paddle out to the end to fuel the oil lamp in the lighthouse. Imagine having that job!

To get there: in Two Harbors, turn toward Lake Superior off of Highway 61 onto Waterfront Drive/6th Street. Follow the brown signs directing you to the Breakwall at Agate Bay.

Cascade Vacation Rentals offers the largest selection of vacation rental homes, cabins, hotels and cottages on the North Shore of Lake Superior. Our rentals cover a large area from Duluth to Grand Portage and inland up the Caribou Trail, Gunflint Trail and throughout Cook County. View rentals by location (DuluthTwo HarborsSchroederTofteLutsenGrand MaraisGunflint Trail) or category type (pet-friendlylarge homes, inland lake homes, etc) at


Check back often for updates on where to go and the top things to do on your next North Shore visit.

Posted on November 28th, 2016 in Outdoor Activities, Stories and Pictures, Travel, Uncategorized, Views and Scenery |

Susie Islands

susie-islands_newsletterThe Susie Islands are a group of 13 islands off the North Shore of Lake Superior near Grand Portage. The three major islands: Susie, Francis, and Lucille were all named for a member of the Falconer family who once lived in Susie and mined its copper ore in the early 1900’s. Though copper ore is no longer mined from the islands, they still have much to give: an environment for growing rare flora and a breathtaking view from the roadside overlook along Highway 61.

The islands are all home to unique and unusual flora due to their location. Because the islands, Susie Island in particular, are about a half-mile from shore, they experience colder, harsher weather conditions than inland Minnesota and Canada.  And since the islands are isolated from the mainland, they rarely experience forest fires. These conditions create the ideal environment for some of Minnesota’s rarest plants. Susie Island, the largest of the thirteen islands at 145 acres, is home to the uncommon Alpine Bistort and Slender Hairgrass. Some other unique plants found on the islands can range from the Norwegian Whitlow Grass (endangered in Minneosta), Pearlwort, Arctic Lupine, Sphagnum Moss, and more!

The Nature Conservancy purchased the southern portion of Susie Island in 1971 and the remainder of it in the 1980s from various private parties. This past year (2016) the organization began the process of transferring ownership of the island to the Grand Portage Band of the Chippewa Tribe who owns the remaining twelve islands. The tribe will continue overseeing the health of all of the islands, making sure that only recreational activity and no development take place.

Experience the islands for yourself. You won’t regret it! To view the islands (and nearby Mount Josephine) from the Susie Island Overlook, follow Highway 61 north from Grand Marais until you hit Grand Portage State Park. Look for signs that are labeled “Susie Islands”.

If you hope to visit the islands by boat, you must first obtain permission from the Grand Portage Reservation.

Posted on November 21st, 2016 in Uncategorized |