Resorts and hotels on the North Shore of Lake Superior have rare openings for this time of year.
As wildfires spread in northeastern Minnesota, destroying thousands of acres and prompting closures of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) and portions of the Superior National Forest, resorts and hotels in the Arrowhead saw a spike in cancellations.
But now the Forest Service is reopening a portion of the BWCAW this coming weekend. Visit Cook County, the local tourism association, says resorts and lodges are ready to welcome people who have failed to find a place to stay in recent months.
“Suddenly we have availability – something that’s been tough for people to find this summer. We’re open and ready to host visitors during what most consider the best part of the season,” John Fredrikson, owner of Gunflint Lodge and Outfitters on the Gunflint Trail, said in a news release. "Now is the best time to visit with cooler temps, fresh air and fall colors."
Visit Cook County said travelers canceled their vacations despite no imminent wildfire threat, noting the Greenwood, Whelp and John Ek fires do remain active but they are 5-40 miles away from homes and businesses in Arrowhead.
The rare last-minute lodging availabilities come just in time to go peeping the fall colors along the North Shore.
And although the persistent drought in Minnesota is expected to have an impact on the fall colors, Val Cervenka, the Minnesota DNR's forest health program coordinator, told Bring Me The News that fall colors are expected to peak earlier than normal this year and may not be as vibrant but there will still be "pockets of awesomeness."
The North Shore specifically offers breathtaking vistas dotted with birch trees' yellow leaves against a backdrop of deep green conifers. Visit Cook County posts fall color updates on its social media pages and has live webcams so you can track how things are coming along on the North Shore. You can also check the Minnesota DNR's Fall Color Finder here.
“Our local webcam library is another great way to track the fall color progress” Kjersti Vick, marketing and public relations director with Visit Cook County, said. “These cameras are placed in several locations around the county providing a true snapshot of what is occurring right now in each community.”
Cook County includes the cities of Shroeder, Tofte, Lutsen, Grand Marais and Grand Portage, as well as the Gunflint Trail.