Grand Marais, Minnesota was recently named to the list of America’s 20 Coolest Outdoor Towns. The access to the Boundary Waters via the Gunflint Trail is one of the main reasons why Matador Network chose Grand Marais. Check out the information below and the other places that made the list.
THIS LIST COULD EASILY HAVE 100 PLACES. The US simply has so many canyons and rivers and slopes, so much coastline, all of it with rad little towns along the way.
So putting together this list, we narrowed it down with a few criteria:
- The place should be an actual town, not just a spot or destination. In other words, you can live/work there year round, and even in the “off-season” it’s still cool.
- The outdoor objectives that make the place so rad must be part of the immediate surroundings. If you can’t climb / ski / paddle / surf right in town, the access should be just beyond, not an hour away.
- The place should have a notable culture, tradition, or local economy around the activities (and natural resources) themselves. Of special mention are places such as Salida, where actual infrastructure has been developed (manmade whitewater features) that brings cool events and awareness to the town.
- For obvious reasons, we came back with a high concentration of places out West (and in Hawaii/Alaska). May not be fair, but if you visit you’ll understand.
All this said, finding big lines can happen anywhere. Where I grew up in the southern Piedmont (forested, gentle rolling hills kind of terrain), a trickling neighborhood ditch became a gnarly class V kayak run if you caught it right after a thunderstorm.
The ultimate limitation is never the place but your imagination. Let us know the what kinds of lines you’re finding right in your town.
–David Miller, Senior Editor
Asheville, North Carolina
13. Grand Marais, MN
All photos courtesy of Visit Cook County
Summer outdoor recreation revolves around freshwater lakes — from massive Lake Superior to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness — so bring your paddle. Over 100 miles of cross-country ski trails are enough to fill many winter days, but downhill skiers can also hit up nearby Lutsen Mountain, one of the midwest’s most-legit ski hills.
Special thanks: Eric Frost