Nerstrand Big Woods State Park by McGhiever / CC BY-SA 3.0
If you’re not from Minnesota you are probably not very familiar with many of the best places to photograph in the state. However, there are plenty of destinations that are worthy of attention from landscape and nature photographers. On this page you’ll find a description of some of the best places to photograph in Minnesota. Several of the destinations are very close to each other along the north shore of Lake Superior, making it an ideal location to photograph several places on a single trip. The interactive map below shows the location of each spot mentioned on this page.
This page will continue to be a work in progress, so please feel free to leave a comment with your own suggestions of great places to photograph.
Voyageurs National Park
Voyageurs National Park is located in northern Minnesota, very close to the Canadian border. It features beautiful lake scenes that are ideal for photographing. Most of the park is accessible only by boat, except in the winter when snowmobiles, skis, or snowshoes are options. Canoes and kayaks are popular methods for moving around in the park, but there are guided tours available as well. The park includes many hiking trails. This page has the trails separated according to their accessibility (by car or only by boat). Because Voyageurs is more challenging to access, it does not attract as many visitors as most national parks. This means you’ll fight smaller crowds, have more space to yourself, and come home with more unique photos.
Voyageurs National Park by jck_photos / CC BY 2.0
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness lies to the east of Voyageurs National Park and within the Superior National Forest. This area includes forests, lakes, and streams. It is a popular recreation area and also a beautiful place to photograph. This huge wilderness area (1 million acres) offers plenty of unique landscape.
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness by Reid Priedhorsky/ CC BY-SA 3.0
Bear Head Lake State Park
Bear Head Lake State Park in northeastern Minnesota has a landscape similar to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness except it is easier to access by car. The Bear Head Lake and surrounding forest make it a great place for photographers.
Bear Head Lake State Park by McGhiever / CC BY-SA 3.0
Gooseberry Falls State Park
Gooseberry Falls State Park is in northeastern Minnesota along the shores of Lake Superior. it is about 40 miles northeast of Duluth and is one of the more popular state parks in Minnesota. The park includes the mouth of the Gooseberry River and features Upper, Middle, and Lower Gooseberry Falls. These beautiful waterfalls are ideal for photographs and easy to access. A short walkway leads to nice views of the falls and the gorge.
Gooseberry Falls State Park by Anita Ritenour / CC BY 2.0
Split Rock Lighthouse
About 7 miles northeast of Gooseberry Falls State Park on State Route 61 is the Split Rock Lighthouse, which is part of Split Rock Lighthouse State Park. This lighthouse on the north shore of Lake Superior is quite picturesque on top of a steep rock cliff.
Split Rock Lighthouse by Matthew / CC BY 2.0
Tettegouche State Park
From Split Rock Lighthouse State Park head northeast about another 13 miles and you will come to Tettegouche State Park. This beautiful park on the shores of Lake Superior also features 6 inland lakes and 4 waterfalls, including the 70-foot High Falls. You’ll also find cliffs with amazing overlooks and plenty to photograph.
Tettegouche State Park by Eric / CC BY 2.0
Temperance River State Park
Continuing further on State Highway 61, Temperance River State Park is about 20 miles northeast of Tettagouche State Park. This park along Lake Superior features the mouth of the Temperance River, 3 waterfalls, and scenic overlooks.
Temperance River State Park by Randen Pederson / CC BY 2.0
Oberg Mountain and Oberg Lake
Travel about another 8 or 9 miles on State Route 61 and you will hit Onion River Road. Turn left onto Onion River Road and after about 2 miles there is a parking lot on the left. This parking lot is for the Oberg Mountian Trail, which leads to a beautiful view of Oberg Lake. The hike is about 3 miles.
Oberg Lake from Oberg Mountain by Vasanth Rajkumar / CC BY-SA 4.0
Cascade River State Park
From Onion River Road, If you continue to head northeast on State Route 61 for about another 12 miles you will come to Cascade River State Park. Here you will find a beautiful rocky gorge, waterfalls, and amazing views.
Cascade River State Park by Aaron Fulkerson / CC BY-SA 2.0
Judge C.R. Magney State Park
About another 20 miles northeast on State Route 61 in Judge C.R. Magney State Park, which is named after a Minnesota Supreme Court judge who helped to establish many of these state parks along the north shore of Lake Superior. This park is home to stunning rock formations and waterfalls, including Devil’s Kettle. At Devil’s Kettle the Brule River falls 50 feet, with part of it disappearing into a pothole.
Judge C. R. Magney State Park by Dan / CC BY=ND 2.0
Grand Portage State Park
Still on State Route 61, Grand Portage State Park is about 40 miles passed Judge C.R. Magney State Park. This park is right on the Canadian border, and it features a 120-foot waterfall. A 0.5 paved trail and boardwalk leads to views of High Falls. By hiking another 3 miles you can reach the 30-foot Middle Falls.
Grand Portage State Park by Sharon Mollerus / CC BY 2.0
Minnehaha Park is a city park in Minneapolis that includes Minnehaha Creek and Minnehaha Falls. This park lies within the boundaries of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area. The 50-foot waterfall is easy to access and quite ideal for photographs.
Minnehaha Falls by The Statue With The Dictionary / GNU Free Document License
Pipestone National Monument
Located in southwestern Minnesota, Pipestone National Monument is the home to catlinite stone that many Native American tribes used to create ceremonial pipes. The land became a national monument because of its historical significance, but the beautiful landscape makes it an interesting subject for photographers. A short (less than a mile) trail provides views of the quarry and a waterfall.
Pipestone National Monument by Brian Jeffery Beggerly / CC BY 2.0
Itasca State Park
Itasca State Park in northern Minnesota is known for being home to the headwaters of the Mississippi River. Lake Itasca is recognized as the beginning of the Mississippi, and you can walk through the shallow waters, or across the stones shown in the photo below, to say that you have walked across the Mississippi River. The park includes more than 100 lakes, so there are plenty of photo opportunities here.
Itasca State Park by Mark Evans / CC BY-ND 2.0
Nerstrand Big Woods State Park
In southern Minnesota, Nerstrand Big Woods State Park is home to a beautiful forest and picturesque waterfall.
Nerstrand Big Woods State Park by McGhiever / CC BY-SA 3.0