Surrounded by 320,000 acres of the Superior National Forest, with dozens of lakes and rivers, the Iron Range is a special place to enjoy nature’s kaleidoscope of colors.
With backdrops like the Laurentian Divide fall-color-seekers enjoy lovely autumn landscapes and scenery. Four routes are particularly special, with the Superior National Forest Scenic Byway chief among them. Watch for wildlife along this 145-mile loop from Aurora on the Iron Range to Two Harbors along Lake Superior, north to Silver Bay and then back to the Range. On the eastern end, stop at Skibo Vista for a 20-mile view of the Laurentian Divide. Take in the beauty of Lake Superior along the shore, and be sure to bring binoculars. A great base for this experience is Giants Ridge Golf and Ski Resort in Biwabik, with lodging facilities onsite, offering condos, villas, a luxury guest home and two uniquely restored farm homes, plus abundant recreation in the form of trails, golf courses, lakes and the rental equipment you need to enjoy them all.
The Laurentian Divide Tour takes in the Iron Range communities of Virginia, Eveleth, Gilbert, Biwabik and Aurora, then heads north to Tower and back again in a 70-mile loop. Along the way, stop at Mineveiw in the Sky in Virginia or the US Hockey Hall of Fame Museum in Eveleth. Hike the trails or picnic at the Laurentian Divide and Lookout, or Giants Ridge Golf and Ski Resort.
The Mines and Pines tour winds from Hibbing to Chisholm, Buhl, Mountain Iron and Virginia, north to Cook, east to McCarthy Beach State Park and back town to Hibbing on a 102-mile loop. Visit Hull Rust Mineview in Hibbing, the museum of the Iron Range, Minnesota Discovery Center in Chisholm, and the Big Aspen Recreation Area north of Virginia. Take in a little history with your nature!
Finally, the Northern Lights Tour heads east from Eveleth, across the Range to Hoyt Lakes then uses part of the Superior National Forest Scenic Byway before it heads north to Ely and back to the Iron Range. Big Lake Recreation Area in Hoyt Lakes is a great place to hike, while the Soudan Underground Mine in Tower offers a truly unique tour deep under the earth’s surface. Mileage for this route is approximately 155.
For any and all of these routes, travel west in the morning and east in the evening for the best photo opportunities. Peak color reaches this region from mid-September to mid-October, but this varies from year to year. For Iron Range Fall Color Maps, lodging information, motorcycle routes, bicycle trail maps, fall color updates and Iron Range attractions information, visit www.ironrange.org. For recreational gear rentals, Giants Ridge golf, and resort hiking trail information, visit www.giantsridge.com.