Year it became a State Park: 1945
Section of Minnesota: North Shore – Arrowhead
Nearby Town: Beaver Bay
Positives: It’s on Lake Superior! The biggest lake in the world! It has the world famous lighthouse. It has an island you can walk out to. Excellent camping spots. It has plenty of hiking and spectacular views. And did I mention it’s on the biggest lake in the world?
The Negatives: Nothing comes to mind.
General Comments: It costs extra to get the tour of the lighthouse and the other historic buildings, but I recommend it. If your family is large enough, you might want to just get a Minnesota Historical Society Membership.
There is a bike path from this park to Gooseberry Falls.
I will also add that if you are tent camping, the campsites in this park are the closest to Lake Superior (like fifteen feet from shore) of any state park in Minnesota. They are perfect camping spots.
Something Everyone Wants To See: The Lighthouse.
But you should also check out:
If the water is low (and it’s the right time of year) you can walk out to the island. It’s a nice little hike and cool to be out there.
Nearby attraction to visit: Highway 61 used to (up until last summer) go right by an overlook where travelers could stop, park and take pictures of the Lighthouse from the highway. This was a bit dangerous. Now they’ve moved the highway a little inland, but they created a little side road up to this overlook. My wife and I stopped and had a snack there last fall while it was still under construction. It’s quite nice, and still has the CCC historic construction work for the overlook platform.
Interesting Trivia: At the very top of ‘Day Hill’ (an overlook I would recommend, by the way) is a house chimney standing alone. The story goes that it was built by the man who owned the land, and he was going to build a house there. But his fiancé broke off their engagement, so the house never got built.
You can also see the location of a shipwreck that was a primary motivator for building the lighthouse.
2010 was the 100th anniversary for the lighthouse and they lit it up on the 22nd of each month. My wife and I happened to be staying at Cove Point Lodge (several miles away – for our anniversary) on Sept 22, and when we walked out on the point we were able to see its light just over the hill every twenty seconds or so.
Our family has visited this park ten times in the last ten years. I wrote a poem (describing the Little Two Harbors Beach in this park) about one of the earlier visits.
What My Kids Want Me To Say: Keep track of your kids. Or to flesh that out a little – If you have a three year old kid, make sure you keep an eye on him or you might spend fifteen minutes looking for him after he wanders away.
Final Word: I’ve seen USA maps that show Split Rock Icon as one of the major icons for this region. It’s a classic spot. Every Minnesotan and every frequent Minnesota traveler should go see it at least once.
Have you been to Split Rock? Do you agree with what I’ve said? Have I missed anything?
* The top picture (the lighthouse) was taken by Joan Kolwinska, who is in our small group.