Grand Marais Wins Coolest Small Town

Congratulations Grand Marais, Minnesota! Grand Marais was named Budget Travel’s Coolest Small Town of the Year! The town is invited to celebrate between 4pm and 6pm at Voyageur Brewing Company! We’re super excited about the win and the fact they have chosen our place to celebrate at.

Grand Marais Wins Coolest Small Town Contest

Grand Marais Named America’s Coolest Small Town

POSTED: 11:08 AM CST Mar 05, 2015


After a five-week long battle for votes, Grand Marais, Minn., has won Budget Travel Magazine’s 10th Annual America’s Coolest Small Town Contest.

Fifteen cool small towns from across the United States competed for the title, with the stiffest competition coming from Chincoteague, Virginia.

However, Grand Marais supporters met the challenge by garnering 30 percent of the vote.

Voting closed at 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, March 4.

“Supporters genuinely believe Grand Marais is America’s coolest small town,” says Linda Kratt, executive director of Visit Cook County. “There isn’t any other small town in the Midwest that has mountains and views of Lake Superior, the Gunflint Trail/Boundary Waters Canoeing Area gateway, as well as great dining, shopping, arts and music. Our visitors, generations of families and friends truly understand the unique character of our quaint harbor village. We thank you for your sustained support.”

“Budget Travel loves the way Grand Marais residents and visitors have this amazing enthusiasm for outdoor sports and the rugged wilderness and also a real appreciation and cultivation of the arts, from guitar-making to plein air painting. It is truly a uniquely cool community!” says Robert Firpo-Cappiello, editor in chief of Budget Travel magazine (

Visit Cook County is planning a “Toast to the Town” party on Friday, March 6, from 4-6 p.m. at Voyageur Brewing ( in Grand Marais.

About Visit Cook County

Cook County, Minn. includes the communities of Lutsen, Tofte, Schroeder, Grand Marais, the Gunflint Trail and Grand Portage.

Visit Cook County inspires guests to rekindle their sense of adventure by boldly escaping the ordinary, from Minnesota’s tallest mountains to its greatest lake shore.

Stay in touch via, Twitter @CookCoVisitors or Facebook.

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Posted in News

Fishing Through the Ice

Monday was Winter Exploratory Day for the Middle School and Josh and Mike went ice fishing with another father and his three sons.  It was a beautiful day outside and the sun was warm.  There weren’t too many bites during the day but one resulted in a fish of a lifetime for a 6th grade boy.  Lucas pulled in a 39″ lake trout that weighed almost 20 pounds!

If you’re looking to catch one like it then make sure you have a new fishing license as last years have expired.

6th Grader's Catch of a lifetime

20 pound lake trout

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Minnesota Fishing News – March 2015
Time to buy your 2015 fishing license
Don’t forget: Your 2014 fishing license is expired.
Fishing licenses for 2015 are available from Minnesota Department of Natural Resources license agents, online at and by telephone at 888-665-4236 FREE. All 2015 fishing licenses are effective Sunday, March 1, through Monday, Feb. 29, 2016.
Purchase online via smartphone and you won’t receive a conventional paper license. Instead, a text message or email serves as proof of a valid fish or game license to state conservation officers. A printed copy of the text or email also can serve as proof of a valid license. Sports licenses, which include some hunting privileges, also expire at the end of February each year.
New regulations, more opportunities for anglers
New regulations will provide more fishing opportunities – and in some cases bigger fish – for anglers who want to fish for bass, sturgeon, muskellunge, catfish and trout. Changes include:
Bass. New catch-and-release bass season is Saturday, May 9, until harvest season opens Saturday, May 23, in all but northeast Minnesota. In northeast (essentially north and east of U.S. Highway 53), no change in spring but fall closure is lifted, allowing smallmouth bass harvest in northeast through Feb. 28, 2016.
Sturgeon. New catch-and-release season for lake sturgeon is Tuesday, June 16, until April 14, 2016 on inland waters and Minnesota waters bordering North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa. No fishing for lake sturgeon each year April 15 to June 15, to protect sturgeon during spawning season. Seasons differ on Minnesota waters bordering Canada and Wisconsin. Anglers also will find new regulations for shovelnose sturgeon.
Muskie. Minimum length limit to keep a muskie is 54 inches. Previous limit was 48 inches. Exceptions apply for muskie-northern pike hybrids, also called tiger muskie, in the seven-county metro area, where minimum length limit remains 40 inches on certain lakes.
Flathead catfish. Season will close for winter. Season is Wednesday, April 1, to Monday, Nov. 30.
Trout. Expanded seasons for stream trout, both in streams and winter fishing in lakes.
See for season dates. For more details, and special regulations for individual waters, see the 2015 Minnesota Fishing Regulations booklet, available at any license agent or online at and

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Posted in fishing

Please Stop Collaring Moose Calves

A friend and cabin owner at the end of the Gunflint Trail is fed up with the collaring of moose calves. I too am not in favor of the DNR collaring calves and she has started a petition on  To sign the petition you just need to visit the website and click the link. PLEASE help Save moose calves and sign the petition.

Here’s what the letter says…

Stop the DNR study which collars newborn moose calves. Staggering mortality of calves associated with abandonment by moms after researcher contact

We all love our Minnesota moose population.  They are a treasure to our state and a wonder to behold.  The Minnesota moose population has significantly decreased over the past 10 years and I agree that research plays a critical role in trying to identify causal factors for these numbers.  However this current research project by the Minnesota DNR under the lead of Glenn DelGiudice appears to be contributing to the demise of moose numbers. Collaring newborn moose calves resulted in 19 out of 25 calves being abandoned by their mothers or requiring rescue according to the Duluth News Tribune.  According to DelGiudice, no previous research had ever noted the high level of abandonment and he is using the sour results as a teaching moment.  ”We were the first ones to do this, ever, anywhere and we knew there were going to be issues…..we just didn’t expect them to be like this”  according to DelGuidice.  The 2013 study results were dismal, but the 2014 numbers were even less successful with much higher calf mortality / abandonment noted. They have received funding to continue the newborn calf collaring starting in May and want to increase their sample size which I believe constitutes a larger number of dead calves.   Below I included a link to the Duluth News Tribune article by John Myers from 2/23

Check out this article

I would like to think that the DNR should be part of the solution and NOT part of the problem with respect to our Minnesota moose population.  Interfering with newborn wildlife has NEVER been a successful endeavor and it appears that it still holds true.  Keep the research to the Adults and give the moose babies a fighting chance.

If you agree with this forum then please sign the petition and share with others.

Petitioning Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

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Posted in wildlife

Making the North Shore Even More Beautiful

It looks like the US Forest Service is going to make our beautiful North Shore of Lake Superior even more beautiful with their newest project.  Read their press release for details.
Natural Resource Conservation Service and Forest Service
Team Up with Partners on Lake Superior North Shore Coastal Forest Restoration
DULUTH, MN  February 26, 2015 – As part of a national partnership, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service and Natural Resource Conservation Service are coordinating technical resources and funds totaling $200,000 to support forest restoration efforts along the North Shore of Lake Superior.
Since much of the North Shore is in private ownership, a concerted effort between public and private landowners is essential to achieving forest restoration at a landscape scale. Thanks to this new partnership, agency personnel will be jointly dedicated to coordinating small scale work on private land with larger scale activities on National Forest System land. Through consolidation, treatments will be more economical and seamless.
Will Bomier with the Natural Resource Conservation Service says:  “This project is a unique and critical opportunity to put ‘boots on the ground’ to engage private landowners while expanding restoration efforts on public land.”
In the North Shore project, restoring long-lived conifers and other native species is critical to developing a forest that is resilient in the face of climate change and other disturbances. By improving the health and resiliency of the forest landscape, this effort will help to protect the tributaries that impact water quality in Lake Superior, mitigate wildfire threats to landowners and communities, provide critical wildlife and fish habitat, as well as maintain the visual corridor along Highway 61, a National and State Scenic Byway.
This project is part of a larger landscape restoration effort along the North Shore of Lake Superior being led by the North Shore Forest Collaborative. The Collaborative is made up of more than 30 entities who are committed to large-scale restoration of the coastal forest, including:  Tribal, federal, state and county agencies; non-profit organizations; and private landowners.
“The North Shore Forest Collaborative is a great example of the synergy generated when public and private landowners work across boundaries to accomplish common goals. It is an outstanding model of private-public collaboration.” stated Richard Periman, Deputy Forest Supervisor, Superior National Forest.
The North Shore project is one of fifteen projects located across the country that were selected for a total of $10 million in funding as part of the Chiefs’ Joint Landscape Restoration Partnership in 2015. This is the second year of the national partnership between the Natural Resource Conservation Service and Forest Service that is intended to improve conditions on public and private lands.
In addition to USDA agency investments, partners are contributing more than $5 million in the 2015 projects over three years in financial, technical and in-kind services. These fifteen new projects, coupled with thirteen projects announced last year, will help mitigate wildfire threats to communities and landowners, protect water quality and supply, and improve wildlife habitat for at-risk species in high priority landscapes across the U.S. Summaries of all projects selected can be found at:
Funding of these projects was made possible by the 2014 Farm Bill. The 2014 Farm Bill builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past five years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life.

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Mosquitos in March?

There’s one good thing about living in the frozen tundra of the North Country, we don’t get mosquitos until May! Some places in the south get mosquitos as early as March. Planning to travel around the United States? Check out this mosquito chart first.

Kayla Matthews shared this chart created by Mosquito Magnet she found on with me. Thanks Kayla!

Mosquito Season

Minnesota Mosquitos

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Posted in News

The Eaglet has Pipped

I wanted to say, “The eagle has landed.” but that would not have been true. The eaglet has pipped is true and by now it may have even hatched. This is a super cool project you should check out, their Facebook Feed has some amazing photos like the one below.

Eagle Cam photo

Eagle eggs are hatching!

By now most followers have probably heard that the first eaglet pipped yesterday, Feb. 24 – right on schedule! The adults laid their eggs about a month earlier than last year, and experienced many days of subzero temperatures. Despite this, the adults have done an excellent job keeping the eggs warm, and it appears to be paying off. If you missed the pipping yesterday, several great photos and videos were captured that can be viewed on our Minnesota Nongame Wildlife Program Facebook Page (you DO NOT need a Facebook account to view these images).

The main EagleCam feed can be viewed at:  We also have a mobile website for users who prefer to watch via smartphones and tablets:
More Q & A

Q: What does “pip” mean?

A: Pip is the term used to describe the first crack and hole in the egg created by the eaglet as it tries to hatch. After pipping, an eaglet may remain in the egg for a day or two before emerging completely.

Q: How do eaglets know when to hatch?

A: Just like chicken eggs, eagle eggs have yolk that feed the developing embryo. The egg contains just enough nutrients to allow the embryo to develop into a young eaglet that is strong enough to escape the egg, survive a few days outside the egg without feeding, and take solid food from the parents. Do not be concerned if you do not see a recently emerged eaglet being fed right away.

Q: Is it too cold for the eaglets?

A: Minnesota’s wildlife are tough critters and are adapted to survive Minnesota’s frigid cold and sweltering heat. There are many challenges ahead for these eaglets, including extreme weather, but these adults have shown complete dedication to their offspring.

Q: I saw a dead bird in the nest, did one of the eaglets die already?

A: We have no reason to think the first eaglet has perished. The adults have brought a couple pigeons into the nest, including one that is within the nest bowl, and we suspect people are mistaking these prey items for the eaglet.

Q: Is DNR planning to name the eagles?

A: Because these eagles are wild animals and because the Nongame Wildlife Program is a scientific agency, we want to focus on observing natural behavior, and avoid emotional attachment to these wild animals.  Therefore, we do not feel it is appropriate to give them names.

Q: Do all eagles that hatch survive to fledging?

A: Estimates of fledging success vary for a wide variety of reasons, but in general nests experience some eaglet mortality before fledging.

Q: How can I help eagles?

A: There are many ways to help eagles in Minnesota and beyond. Donating to the Minnesota Nongame Wildlife Program is one way. Also using and encouraging others to switch to non-lead ammunition and fishing tackle.


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8 Rivers North Voyage Video

Check out the beautiful scenery, amazing wildlife and real life Voyageurs in this video made by trip participant Kari Smerud. Oh how I long to paddle with the likes of them.

If you want to hear about their trip Kari and Tessa will be presenting at the Far North Symposium at Metro State University in St. Paul, MN on March 21, 2015. I wish I could go see them, someone should videotape it and upload it to Youtube so I can see it!

Take the time to view the video, it’s worth it.


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Posted in paddling adventures

Double Dose of Voyageur

Did you receive our email newsletter yesterday? If not then head on over to our website and sign up for our newsletter so you won’t miss out on any other emails from us.  We’ve got a deal from Voyageur Canoe Outfitters that includes something special from Voyageur Brewing Company!
V.C.O. Complete Outfitting Wilderness Trip Special!
 $100 off of our four-day Complete Outfitting Package. As a special treat for craft beer drinkers we’re including a BWCA friendly River Growler filled with a craft beer of your choice from Voyageur Brewing Company in Grand Marais, Minnesota.  Located on Highway 61 with a magnificent view of Lake Superior you’ll want to stop in before and after your canoe trip for a cold beer and delicious appetizer.
Sale Ends 3/3/15.
Rates are per person. Click on text to purchase.
The Details:
Almost everything is included in our completely outfitted packages except permits and fishing licenses. We include all of the gear necessary to successfully experience a Boundary Waters or Quetico canoe trip. We also supply and pack the food, and we just updated our menu and have a tasty lightweight selection of meals for you to choose from. We even have vegetarian and vegan options available! This package also includes a cozy bunk stay the night before your permit entry date, a routing session and orientation, a hot pancake breakfast in the lodge and refreshing shower service upon return from your wilderness trip. We want to make your trip preparation as easy and painless possible, all you need to bring is clothes, personal items, toiletries and any fishing gear you may want and we will supply the rest! 
The Fine Print:

Packages are only available for entry point 54 Seagull or 55 Saganaga. There is an additional shuttle fee for transportation to other entry points. You do not need to know your travel dates to purchase this special deal. You can purchase the voucher and then when you have decided on your trip dates call us so we can reserve your entry point into the wilderness.  Approximately one week prior to your trip we’ll email you the coupon for Voyageur Brewing Company which must be presented at their location in Grand Marais. There is no cash value for the coupon and it is only good during regular business hours. Due to the Minnesota State Law growlers may not be filled on Sundays.If you must cancel your reservation then we’ll credit the amount paid for the voucher to a future trip with Voyageur for the 2015 paddling season which opens when the ice goes out and ends September 15th, 2015.



Last Chance to Get Your Hands On Our Gently Used Gear!
 Wenonah Ultra-Lite Seneca 3 Person Canoe
(Used Two Seasons Only) Excellent Condition $1500 

In a Nutshell:

A full price deposit holds your canoe. Your deposit is refundable if after your inspection you decide not to purchase the Kevlar canoe. We can help make delivery arrangements to areas around the Twins Cities and possibly Wisconsin, Ohio, Illonios and Indiana. We can also make arrangements to store your canoe until next season. Please call or email us with any questions you may have.


 Gently Used Granite Gear Packs
1. Quetico
2. Superior One
The anatomically designed harness system and foam padded back panel hugs your body and puts the weight of the load close to your back and on your hips. Heavy-duty side lift handles and haul loop make lifting the pack out of the canoe and putting it on your back a breeze!
Capacity- 82 Liters
Dimensions-41 x 64 x 23 cm
Capacity- 121 Liters
Dimensions- 51 x 63 x 30 cm
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Posted in BWCA

A Special Week

I bet most of you didn’t realize we  are in the middle of National Invasive Species Awareness Week. It seems kind of strange to me to have picked February 22-28th, 2015 for the dates but maybe there wasn’t anything else going on to celebrate?

I guess there are other parts of the United States that are not covered in 3 feet of snow so there is still potential to spread invasive species. On the Gunflint Trail we’re pretty safe right now because even where there isn’t good snow cover most plant life ceases to exist with the freezing cold temperatures we have.

In any case, three months from now when the thaw begins we can look back on this special week and remember how to help prevent the spread of invasive species.


Q: I heard that National Invasive Species Awareness Week is in February. What can I do to prevent the spread of invasive species when I’m out on the trails this spring?

A: Whether you are hiking, running, biking, or riding your horse or off-highway vehicle, it’s important to make sure you don’t accidently move invasive species from place to place. The “PlayCleanGo: Stop Invasive Species in Your Tracks” campaign offers these simple steps to help prevent the spread of invasive plants and animals:

Arrive with clean gear.
Burn local or certified firewood.
When horseback riding, us local or weed-free hay.
Stay on the trails.
Before leaving, remove mud and seeds from your gear.
By following these steps, you can help protect your favorite recreation spot from invasive species.

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Posted in environment

Oh the Places We Will Go

And the things we will do. Sunday we left Grand Marais at 5:00am so we could get Abby to Duluth by 7:30am for her volleyball tournament.  We didn’t end up leaving the school until almost 7:00pm!

It’s amazing the things we will do for our kids. Or the places we will go for them. But soon they will be grown up and out of the house and then oh, the places we will go.

The things we will do. Like using an outhouse for the first 5 years of owning Voyageur Canoe Outfitters.

Oh the Places we will go. Like 10 sport and travel shows in the Midwest in one winter to market Voyageur.

Or the things we will do, like start a Half-Marathon on the Gunflint Trail.

Chapters of the book of our lives, being created at a break-neck pace only pausing long enough to replace the ink cartridge or add more paper to the printer.

Posted in News
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