Grand Portage National Monument

Grand Portage National Monument

Plan Your Visit

At Grand Portage National Monument, the changing seasons offer an abundance of cultural and natural history experiences.

Remaining hummocks of spring snow are replaced by carpets of moss and wildflowers, the fiddleheads of ferns and shafts of grasses. Spring along the Mount Rose Trail includes not only spectacular views of the largest freshwater lake in the world, Lake Superior, but also miniature marvels; white flowerets of Bunchberry (Cornus Canadensis) and False Lily-of-the-Valley (Maianthemum canadense) with the irregular white petals of Juneberrys (Amelanchier sp.) in an overstory of white spruce (Picea glauca) and jack pine (Pinus banksiana). A spring hike up the Grand Portage provides picturesque views of golden-yellow five to seven sepaled blossoms of Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris), yellow and purple violets (Viola sp.) sprinkle the forest with color while the white blossoms of declining trillium (Trillium flexipes) are veiled beneath their large triangular leaves. Embraced within an overstory of white spruce (Picea glauca), Norway pine (Pinus resinousa), paper birch (Betula papyrifera) and quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides), occasional small soft pinkish-white blossoms of choke and pin cherry shrubs (Prunus sp) mingle with mountain maple (Acer spicatum), alder (Alnus sp.) and beaked hazel (Corylus cornuta).

If you like history, summer is the time to visit the North West Company's (NWCo.) reconstructed headquarters on Lake Superior. Although similar gatherings were held on Grand Portage Bay by French traders, the NWCo. probably held their first rendezvous here in the early 1780s. Scope of operations at Grand Portage continuously grew so by 1789 the NWCo. had constructed a stockade with 16 to 18 log buildings with cedar or birchbark shingles and some had copper or tin roofs. Today, you can visit the stockade area rebuilt in the mid 1930s with four log buildings: great hall, kitchen, canoe warehouse and a gatehouse. Each building is staffed by knowledgeable employees dressed in clothing of the late 1700s performing activities needed by the NWCo. Canoe building, carpentry, making bread, working with flintlock muskets, gardening, crafting baskets and carving paddles were just some of the activities necessary to make the NWCo. one of the most successful companies during the fur trade.

If you like to camp and backpack, take a hike up the Grand Portage to Fort Charlotte, site of a former post on the Pigeon River which has not been reconstructed. The Pigeon River was the gateway to trading posts west of the great lakes. The hike can give you the feeling of toil and drudgery French-Canadian voyageurs experienced carrying two 90 pound or more loads up and down this challenging footpath. When you reach the Fort Charlotte site, you can camp underneath majestic white pine (Pinus strobus) and black and white spruce (Picea mariana and P. glauca) for the night. Free backcountry permits are required at the Fort Charlotte camping area.

Even though the stockade is closed in the winter, a snowshoe hike of the Grand Portage on a crisp winter or early spring day can be one of serenity but it can also be a lot of work. NWCO. employees often snowshoed from one post to another sometimes up to 80 miles in several days. Cross country skiing of the Grand Portage can be demanding of a skier's skills due to sharp turns at the bottom of short steep hills but the beauty of the boreal forest embraces you in the evergreens between large clearings left after the broad leaved trees lose their leaves.

Getting There

Plane

Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport is a major U. S. hub for passengers flying to the Midwest. Connecting flights can be accessed from Minneapolis to Duluth, Minnesota or Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. To reach Grand Portage, Minnesota, private ground transportation is recommended either by private or rental vehicle.

Car

The Monument is located in northeastern Minnesota's "Tip of the Arrowhead" within Grand Portage Indian Reservation, Cook County, Grand Portage, Minnesota. Grand Portage National Monument is about 150 miles northeast of Duluth, Minnesota and 50 miles southwest of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada along the beautiful north shore of Lake Superior. The historic site is ½ to 1 mile south of the west and east exits from Minnesota State Highway 61 in the village of Grand Portage.

Bus

Bus Transportation is available from the cities of Duluth, Minnesota and Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. For further information about bus schedules, please contact Grand Portage Lodge and Casino at: 218-475-2401.

Contact Information

The Monument Heritage Center and headquarters (open year around) and the stockade historic site (open from Memorial to Columbus weekends (mid-May to mid-October)) address is: P.O. Box 426, 170 Mile Creek Road, Grand Portage, Minnesota 55605 Phone: 218-475-0123

Frequently Asked Questions

Where's the Monument at Grand Portage National Monument?

Like most other national monuments within the National Park Service, Grand Portage National Monument is smaller in acreage (710 acres) than national parks but like national parks, was established by congress in 1958 to preserve and interpret fur trade and Ojibwe history and culture. National monuments are "little gems" within the Service which are smaller units however, the stories and sites are no less inspiring.