Grand Portage State Park Grand Portage State Park

11 Best Things to Do in Grand Portage State Park

Grand Portage State Park is one of Minnesota’s northernmost destinations, located on the international border between the United States and Canada. There is a 120-foot waterfall on the Pigeon River, the highest in Tennessee.

The Grand Portage State Park is home to some of the state’s most breathtaking scenery, including the state’s tallest waterfall. To get to High Falls, take the paved route that is just a half mile long and very easy to navigate.

Middle Falls may be reached by an additional challenging hiking path that is 3.5 miles long and offers breathtaking ridgetop views of Lake Superior and Canada.

Activities like hiking, photography, picnics, and more may be enjoyed here because of the breathtaking surroundings. Stay overnight camping is not permitted in this park and is open only during the day.

In Minnesota‘s far northeast, bordering Lake Superior, sits the picturesque area of Grand Portage. There are meandering rivers, attractive shorelines, expansive meadows, dense woods, and panoramic vistas from high above the surrounding hills. 

Welcome to the Park!

The welcome centre is the name given to the visitor centre that can be found in Grand Portage State Park. In addition, it provides services to the general public as a rest stop along the route and a centre for tourist information.

The park employees take great delight in making guests feel at home and ensuring that they have a positive experience throughout their time there.

This is done in remembrance of the centuries-old practice of Ojibwe people offering a warm welcome to visitors to the Grand Portage region.

The Lobby of the Welcome Center

The culture of the Grand Portage Ojibwe people is shown to visitors to the park in the welcome centre’s lobby, which was created with that purpose in mind.

The Ojibwe creation and migration myths are helped to be illustrated by the turtle that is on the floor. This is the only state park in Minnesota situated on property owned by a Native American tribe.

Grand Portage State Park
Image by Zack Frank on Shutterstock

Fun Things to Do in Grand Portage State Park

Here is a list of extremely fun activities that you can do at Grand Portage State Park.

1. River Overlook Deck

This easily accessible wooden platform close to the visitor centre offers a magnificent view across the Pigeon River into the province of Ontario in Canada.

Pigeon river flows through Grand Portage State Park
Photo by jjbooma from Depositphotos

This overlook provides the opportunity to glimpse eagles and ospreys on occasion. If you’re very fortunate, you could catch a glimpse of a moose grazing on one of the islands below.

2. Getting to High Falls Via the Paved Trail

The path to the tallest waterfall in Minnesota is about a half mile long and is paved, with only very few inclines and declines. The distance from the beginning to the end of the walk is one mile, and there are various seats to sit on along the way.

High Falls Trail | Grand Portage State Park, Minnesota

It would help if you planned on spending thirty to forty minutes travelling the route, and that time includes stopping to take advantage of the breathtaking photo possibilities at High Falls.

3. The Pigeon River

You may see this perspective of the river by descending the first of two staircases located along the paved walkway leading to High Falls.

Pigeon River, Neebing.  US / Canada border in Minnesota

The international boundary separating the United States of America and Canada is located at the Pigeon River.

4. Pigeon River Gorge

You’ll find this gorge a little distance downstream from High Falls.

Visitors to the park will frequently sun themselves on the stones along the stream and relax to the sound of the river as it makes its way to Lake Superior.

5. Walkway Leading Up to High Falls

Visitors may reach the observation decks for High Falls by travelling the last few hundred feet down this boardwalk. The deafening roar of the waterfall may be heard from a significant distance away before one reaches High Falls.

High Falls – Main Deck: The High Falls of the Pigeon River, located in Minnesota, is the state’s tallest waterfall, dropping 120 feet into a rocky valley. This deck’s breathtaking vista is accessible to people using wheelchairs and families using strollers with young children. 

High Falls – West Deck: This observation platform, which put you the closest to High Falls and was taken when the water level was low, is accessible through a staircase with forty steps. On the other hand, the mist and spray from the roaring waterfall ensure that this deck remains moist throughout the day and night during the spring and early summer, as well as after significant rainfall. 

Grand Portage State Park
Image by Sisika by Shutterstock

6. The East Deck at High Falls

This observation platform for the High Falls is the third and smallest one available. From this vantage point, guests may see hikers on the other side of the river in Canada taking in the scenery from a Provincial Park.

Middle Falls Trail – Point of View: Hikers will have the opportunity to take in breathtaking panoramas of Lake Superior and the Grand Portage Indian Reservation, located all around the park, as they make their way up the 300-foot vertical ascent that is required to reach Middle Falls.

7. The Most Elevated Point in the Park

Visitors may reach this viewpoint over 400 vertical feet above Lake Superior by using a short offshoot trail that branches off the Middle Falls Trail.

Windego is a Port on Isle Royale National Park
Photo by jjbooma from Depositphotos

On days when the weather is clear, you can view Isle Royale National Park in Michigan, which is twenty-two miles offshore!

8. Trail of the Middle Falls

Just one route goes into the wilderness in Grand Portage State Park. This winding path to Middle Falls is surrounded on either side by dense forest.

Middle Falls Ridge Scenic Grand Portage State Park

From the visitor centre, the hike to Middle Falls is a round-trip that covers 4.5 miles and is of fairly demanding difficulty.

9. Above Middle Falls

Near the end of the Middle Falls Trail is a comfortable spot to sit and relax on the bedrock adjacent to the river.

The Canadian province of Ontario is virtually within touching distance for hikers standing on the American side of the international line.

10. Middle Falls

Just two miles upstream from High Falls is where you’ll find Middle Falls, which has a drop of thirty feet into a big pool after it rushes over some tough diabase rock.

Ridges of resistant diabase rock were formed due to volcanic activity in prehistoric times. The spectacular and steep terrain that may be seen in the Grand Portage state park region is due to the presence of diabase.

Pigeon River High Falls and Middle Falls

11. Shelter For Picnics in Groups

The park’s gathering shelter may be found along a paved path next to the Pigeon River.

The top is an excellent location for a picnic lunch with the family or for listening to the park naturalist give a presentation about Ojibwe culture.


The Grand portage state park is quite lovely. The most beautiful waterfall in all of Minnesota may be found here. There were several vantage points to choose from, each connected by a boardwalk that was open to the public.

High Falls at US/Canadian border at Grand Portage State Park Minnesota
Photo by natmacstock from Depositphotos

Moreover, there is a wonderful location ideal for Instagram photos where you can take pictures with a view of the Canadian side of the river. The employees at the park were quite kind and knowledgeable.

Grand Portage State Park is a place you won’t want to miss seeing!


1. Is a passport required to enter Grand Portage State Park?

If you wish to continue, you can enter Canada at that point, but you’ll need a passport.

2. Why is Grand Portage state park so popular?

The state park is filled with natural wonders like Pigeon lake and High falls. It also encompasses the amazing culture of Ojibwe heritage.

3. What is the significance of the name – Grand Portage?

The reason for the moniker is that the route starts with a lengthy portage of 9 miles. Portage refers to a place where canoes and equipment are transported over land.

Last Updated on February 20, 2023 by Janhavi Ramesh Kowligi