The Minnesota “Arrowhead” starts a Duluth and stretches north to the Canadian border. The southern edge of the region follows the north shore of Lake Superior, much of it part of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness(BWCAW). The remainder of the region is part of the Superior National Forest, established by Theodore Roosevelt in 1909. The Arrowhead offers spectacular views of the cliffs of the north shore, beautiful vistas across broad valleys and many rivers and waterfalls that tumble toward Superior.
In the Arrowhead, winter comes early and stays late, but spring, fall and summer, while short, are spectacular. From September to April, come prepared for any type of weather, from sunny to snowy. Fall colors are unbelievable, but can be accompanied by rain, sleet, snow and cold temperatures. The average high temperature in January is 17 degrees F; the average low is -4 degrees F. Wear warm clothes, waterproof hiking boots, gloves and a hat.
From April to September, expect milder weather, with gentle rainfall, moderate breezes and lots of sunny days. The average high in July is 77 degrees F; the average low is 53 degrees F. Along the shore, winds off the lake can make it feel 20 degrees cooler, so keep that in mind if you’re camping in the state parks that line Lake Superior from Duluth to Grand Marais. In summer, carry plenty of bug spray—the mosquitoes and black flies can be overwhelming.
The ever-changing north shore of Lake Superior provides a lifetime worth of photo opportunities. You can capture the lake shrouded in fog at sunrise, as a beautiful serene blue on a clear afternoon day or as a gun-metal gray on overcast days, combined with the chance of capturing huge waves crashing onto rocky shores. In the Superior National Forest, overcast and low light are best for lower-contrast, colorful images of lakes, foliage and the wildlife that inhabits the forest.
Located in the northern third of the Arrowhead, the BWCAW offers untold opportunities to photograph wildlife, migrating songbirds and waterfowl, including the common loon, along with pristine scenery. At some 1.3 million acres, the BWCAW contains more than 1,200 miles of canoe routes, 15 hiking trails and about 2,000 designated campsites. Permits issued by the National Park Service are required to enter
Telephoto lenses and a tripod are a must for wildlife images; sunrise and evening are your best opportunities to spot wildlife. Normal and wide-angle lenses are a plus for landscapes; morning and evening light are best to capture the deep, rich colors of the rocky shorelines, the greens of summer and the autumn colors found on these inland lakes. Bring protective gear to safeguard your equipment from rain and moisture.
The hills leading from the north shore to the interior are ablaze with color from mid-September to early October, and trails leading to the top of the ridge offer great vantage points. Reserve early for campsites or hotels. Spring provides its own beauty, with budding trees, wildflowers and grasslands. Plenty of wildlife is visible, and their offspring are out and about. It’s also a great time to photograph the rivers and streams, as the snowmelt can turn them into raging waterways with beautiful rapids and thundering waterfalls.
Contact: USDA Forest Service, www.fs.fed.us/r9/superior.