Sunday, 28 August 2016

Waterfalls of the North Shore

Minnesota's North Shore

Minnesota’s North Shore, which runs along the northern banks of Lake Superior has more than it’s fair share of waterfalls, I think the state has about 200 of them.

Upper Falls - Gooseberry Falls State Park

The campgrounds in the State Parks here during the weekends are booked out months ahead as there aren’t many sites and unlike us, most people know when they want to go there. We had to book two different sites at Gooseberry State Park and the first one which we were supposed to be in for two nights was impossible to get into. The website had said it was alright for a 35’ fifth wheel, but the office had it down as only an RV site. When you are backing into a site, we are a lot longer than 35’ as our overall length is 52’, and even though Lindsay is a master backer, he just couldn’t get around a tree on the road in and the site number post at the edge of the driveway. Where would we go if they had no sites? We went back to the office and luckily they did have another site which we could have for one night. Then we could move to our second location which had not been available when I booked. Both of these were a lot easier to back into and the second one was right outside the restrooms which was very convenient for using the showers. There are no hookups in these parks, so if they have decent showers we use theirs and conserve our onboard water. Apparently moving our sites around crashed their servers. 

Lake Superior shoreline at our campground

From the campground you can walk to Lake Superior. The largest of the five lakes up here. The five lakes hold 20% of the world’s fresh water and Lake Superior itself holds 10%! To say it’s enormous is an understatement.

Using the macro lens on the 1DX, and a steady hand - a match made in heaven

While we were at Gooseberry State Park we could also visit Tettegouche State Park and the Lighthouse at Split Rock State Park.

Gooseberry Falls State Park

At Gooseberry there are five waterfalls. The upper falls, middle which they count as two and the lower falls. Then the aptly named Fifth Falls which we visited on our second stay.

Gooseberry High Falls after overnight rain
Middle Falls - Gooseberry Falls State Park before the rain
Middle Falls after rain, you can't get in front of them without getting wet
Gooseberry Middle Falls - both tiers after rain 
Gooseberry Lower Falls after overnight rain
Gooseberry's Fifth Falls (lower section)

Split Rock State Park

This was our only early morning photo session. The lighthouse has a museum which allows you entry into the lighthouse itself and it’s grounds. But we weren’t interested in the inside. We didn’t know if we could get to the base of the lighthouse without paying their entry fee. They told us we could go through the state park entrance but of course we must pay the entry fee. No problem, we had an annual state parks pass. We found the path which took us out onto the lava flow rocks and then went further up the track to come out below it’s base. This one actually linked up to the one the people from the museum came down to. We took a few photos just to see what looked good as we were planning a sunrise expedition later on. It rained that night and the morning was completely overcast. The next night I didn’t sleep as it was quite hot and I couldn’t face getting up an hour before sunrise. It’s was a 20min drive to the park and then we had to find our way in the dark to where we wanted to shoot from. On the third morning as we were driving down we could see magnificent colour on the horizon and I thought that maybe we had our times wrong. Would we be too late? While we had seen great light from the highway, down in the park it was pitch black and our memories of which path to take were still asleep. After a few wrong turns we found the lava flow area which would give us lots of sky to capture the magnificent colour. I had read that using my neutral density filter would enhance the colours so I tried that. What it actually did was capture the colour as we saw it.

Split Rock Lighthouse during the day
Split Rock Lighthouse just before sunrise
Morning Breaks

Tettegouche State Park

View from Shovel Point
Tettegouche was actually my favourite for walking. We did a number of walks – out to Shovel Point, Two Steps Falls, High Falls and the Cascades. There were 200 steps down to Two Steps, so named as it has two tiers. We climbed up the bottom waterfall as there was no trail, to photograph the top tier. There were steps coming down on the other side but we don’t where that trail came from. Walking back up those 200 steps were a killer as it was still humid. Each night it would rain and the process would start all over again. 

Shovel Point
Lots of boardwalks to keep you on the straight and narrow

The High Falls had three separate falls and to get all three you needed to be right in front of them, which of course was where the river was. You need to get it from out there Lindsay said. I decided it was better to tell him how to take the photo than for me to get my feet wet. The water was freezing and he had to use the tripod as a walking stick as the rocks were slippery, so what would have I used? I think you will agree, he did an excellent job.

High Falls at Tettegouche State Park
Lindsay braving the cold water in the name of a good photo
What the High Falls look like if you don't want to get your feet wet
Cascades in Tettegouche SP
Trails in Tettegouche SP
Palisade Head near Tettegouche SP

Just outside the park is Palisade Head, a shear rock face on a point.

Tip: If you ever get charged for more than one booking fee for a single stay at a campground, ask for a refund of the extra fees.

Gooseberry State Park Campground


  1. You speak about the walkways "keeping you on the straight and narrow" but you didn't say anything about how to keep Lindsay on the "straight and narrow"!!!!!! just love your photos. You two are dedicated!

  2. Lovely waterfall photos! Looks like it was worth the foray into the cold water. :-)) The lighthouse is beautiful, too—love the various moods.