Mountains to Mushrooms

Lake Vermilion in Minnesota

Next summer we decided not to return to Grand Teton but to pursue a marina summer job in Minnesota. The marina in The Land of 10,000 Lakes summer season starts in April and ends in October. Since we were done working at Grand Teton in September, we hitched up and drove 1,112 miles to work the last month at the new job.

Marina in Minnesota on Lake Vermilion

Devils Tower soars 867 feet above the surrounding pines and is 5,112 feet above sea level. This tower can been seen from miles away but we suggest seeing the tower up close. It’s about a mile hike around the base of the tower and up close, one can see the unique texture and grooves of the tower along with the changing surroundings landscape from red rock to Aspen trees to a valley. Look closely and not only can climbers be seen but old ladders that were place for the first ascent back in 1893.

Hike around Devils Tower

We made one detour on the road trip to Devils Tower National Monument so we could spend the day there. The ranger that greeted us at the gate had previously worked at Colter Bay and it was nice to chat with someone that appreciated the park as much as us.

Devils Tower

Devils Tower is a holy site and Native American tribes still hold traditional ceremonies there, such as vision quests and summer ceremonies. Walking around the tower, prayer cloths and prayer bundles are seen in trees and are not to be disturbed or photographed. Many tribe members consider climbing the tower a dishonor to this sacred site so in 1995, a no climbing ban was instated for the month of June to build mutual respect between the climbing and native communities.

Another view of Devils Tower

We continued on the road trip after visiting Devils Tower and once in the Northern end of the North Star State, we were living on one of the 11,842 pretty lakes in Minnesota. Fall was in full swing when we arrived and we were able to see peak season on the popular North Shore. We only had a month to explore so we got right to it!

Split Rock Lighthouse

Split Rock Lighthouse: This park was on our bucket list for places to visit so it was our first exploration. Located on Lake Superior on considered one of the most dangerous waterways in the world, stands the famous Split Rock Lighthouse. This lighthouse was built on the rugged lake shore and stands tall high above the lake. There are hiking trails through the forest, up steep rocks or easy trails along the lake. The fall colors looked striking along the lake and made the lighthouse stand out. We will definitely be back to this park and hopefully one time with a kayak.

Bass Lake

Bass Lake: It was cloudy and grey outside but we decided to take a chance on this hike anyway and we were glad we did. No rain plus pleasant cliff views, a small waterfall, two lakes and mushrooms galore!! And when we say mushrooms everywhere, they were taking over the trail. There were ones that were red, red with white spots, pink with a ruffle sides, flat brown ones growing out of logs and dark brown log ones that looked like…..well, you can figure that one out. We now know that Minnesota is known well known for mushroom foraging, next time we will be better prepared!


Voyagers National Park: It was our last weekend in Minnesota and we decided last minute to visit Voyagers. Most of this park is only accessible by water but there are a few hiking trails on the mainland. Pulling into the park was unexciting as its just trees along the roadside. But once on a trail, surrounded by trees and standing on a cliff to see the famous Kabetogama Lake and the many little islands filling in the lake, that made up for the drive. The fall colors were just past peak but the dark autumn tree colors against the blue lake plus a perfect temperature day emphasized that this last minute trip was definitely worth it.


We left the Gopher State at the end of October to spend the winter in the Sunshine State. Along the way we stopped in Chicago to see family and we look forward to seeing more family and friends this winter.

Happy trails!

Lake Vermilion at sunset

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