Lake Superior circle tour | Midwest Living
More
Close

Lake Superior circle tour

Two cars, five days and 1,200 miles of highway. Two sets of travelers with different ideas of the perfect vacation create memories of a lifetime around massive Lake Superior.
+ enlarge
«
1 of 8
Pause »
  • 1
    Canada's Highway-17 near <br>Rossport, Ontario.
  • 2
    A freighter passes Duluth.
  • 3
    The dining room at Naniboujou Lodge <br>near Grand Marais, Minnesota
  • 4
    Guests can climb the tower for a <br>Lake Superior view from Michigan's <br>Sand Hills Lighthouse Inn.
  • 5
    Both trailers and tents find beachfront <br>camping at Munising, <br>Michigan's Tourist Park.
  • 6
  • 7
    Ojibwa pictographs decorate Agawa <br>Rock in Lake Superior Provincial <br>Park, where hikers follow signs <br>of the lake spirit Misshepezhieu <br>down the rock.
  • 8
    Sand Hills Lighthouse Inn

Trevor's trip, continued

 

We launch the trip by prepping at Duluth’s s Lake Superior Marine Museum and the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center 70 miles east in Ashland, Wisconsin. Fleets of tiny ships and schools of fiberglass fish fill us in on the lake’s backstory. A three-dimensional map reveals that in comparison to Superior’s dark holes (plunging to 1,332 feet in one spot), Lake Erie looks like a spilled drink. Dad and I take turns snarling like sailors behind a ship’s wheel in Duluth, snapping photos while kids roll their eyes and wait for us to finish.

In the Duluth parking lot, I punch the truck’s trip odometer to zero, dial up Gordon Lightfoot on the iPod and watch the Tucson hop energetically over a speed bump as we pull out for Wisconsin. Five days later, we’ll pass Duluth driving the opposite direction with 1,281.7 miles on the odometer, a plastic Canada goose stuck to the dash and a vague trout scent in the cab, the pickup transformed into a rolling Circle Tour trophy case.

Within the trip’s first 200 miles, however, things get a little rocky when my partner grumbles that embracing the world’s largest lake is hard when you can.t even see it through the dense forests. Along some shady stretch of State-28 in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Dad grouchily compares the lake to Bigfoot, saying, "We’re getting just enough glimpses to convince us it really exists. "

Our campsites renew his faith. Before leaving home, I found the Tucson a lakeside berth at nearly every stop. So we spend most evenings just feet from Superior’s glassy water as it changes color in sunset’s alchemy. At Rainbow Falls Provincial Park, we share a glacier-scarred boulder with a couple dining in a setting finer than the priciest restaurant’s, all for a camping fee of 27 loonies (Canadian dollars) and the effort of carrying lawn chairs.

An hour later, I’m listening to a loon’s unmistakable call drift across the water. Waves are slapping the rocks, and I hear Dad tapping away on his trip journal in the mixed glows of firelight and a notebook computer plugged into one of the Tucson’s outlets. Such downtime is a luxury on days that sometimes feel like one continual mad rush from outfitter’s offices to all-day adventures to several hours of evening driving. But trading relaxation for intimate meetings with Superior still seems like a bargain at each day.s end.

 

Add Your Comment