Grand Portage State Park High Falls tallest waterfall in Minnesota

One of the best state parks in Minnesota, Grand Portage State Park sits on the border of three nations. Yes! You can see three nations in one location: U.S., Canada, and the Grand Portage Tribal Lands. In fact, Pigeon River that runs through Grand Portage Fall serves as the international border between the United States and Canada. Grand Portage State Park is also home to Minnesota’s tallest waterfall, High Falls, and offers miles of beautiful hiking trails.

A designated Class I Highway Rest Area and Explore Minnesota Travel Information State Park, entrance to Grand Portage is free year-round. Grand Portage is the only state park located on tribal lands in Minnesota.

See my related Minnesota state park series.


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Top things to do at Grand Portage State Park in Grand Portage, MN

Grand Portage State Park view of Pigeon River and Canada and Minnesota

Here are the top 10 things to do at Grand Portage State Park in Grand Portage, Minnesota.

  1. Observe Minnesota’s tallest waterfall, 120-ft. High Falls, from three different observation decks.
  2. For a more rugged experience, hike the 4.5-mile trail to Middle Falls and stunning views of Lake Superior.
  3. Enjoy the scenic and stroller- and wheelchair-accessible scenic boardwalk leading to High Falls. Look for the two sets of stairs that lead you to the shore of Pigeon River for more beautiful views.
  4. Take a pic at the selfie station where you can see three nations in one location: U.S., Canada, and Grand Portage nation.
  5. Learn more about the Grand Portage Anishinabe / Ojibwe people in the interpretative visitor center.
  6. Listen to the audio welcome sign near the parking lot for more cultural and historical background.
  7. Read the signs leading to the visitor center that represent the seven different Grand Portage clan structure.
  8. Watch for wildlife including moose, black bears, deer, eagles, great blue herons, beavers, and otters from the hiking trails and river observation decks.
  9. Picnic along the scenic Pigeon River.
  10. Hike or snowshoe in the winter at Grand Portage State Park.

Frequently asked questions about Grand Portage State Park in Grand Portage, Minnesota

Grand Portage State Park boardwalk hiking trail to High Falls waterfall

Where is Grand Portage State Park located? What is the address for Grand Portage State Park?

The address for Grand Portage State Park is 9393 East Highway 61, Grand Portage, MN 55605. Grand Portage State Park is located on the border of the United States and Canada and on Grand Portage tribal lands. The border patrol station from Minnesota into Canada is located just north of the Grand Portage State Park entrance.

Cell phone coverage is limited. Although you may receive a Welcome to Canada text on your mobile and possibly international rate charges if you don’t have an international plan

When is Grand Portage State Park open?

Grand Portage State Park is open year-round, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day. The lobby and restrooms are open 24 hours a day as Grand Portage is a Class I Highway Rest Area. You may park at Grand Portage for up to four hours. However, overnight camping in the parking lot is not permitted.

Is Grand Portage State Park free? How much is the admission fee at Grand Portage State Park?

Yes. Grand Portage State Park in Minnesota is free. That’s because Grand Portage State Park is a Class I Highway Rest Area. Admission to every Minnesota state park is free for all Minnesota state tribal members.

Admission to other state parks in Minnesota only costs $7 per vehicle per day ($5 per motorcycle). That includes unlimited visits to all Minnesota state parks on the same day. I highly recommend an annual pass, which gives you entrance to all Minnesota state parks. See the Minnesota DNR website for more information. And it’s highly recommended to pay online ahead of time. Minnesota state parks are no longer accepting cash self-payment envelopes on site.

You can also visit other Minnesota state parks for free four days each year. See my related post for this year’s free state park days..

Does Grand Portage State Park have a lake, river, or waterfall?

High Falls Grand Portage State Park best waterfalls in Minnesota

Yes. Grand Portage State Park features Pigeon River and two waterfalls. High Falls drops 120 feet while Middle Falls drops 20 feet. High Falls at Grand Portage State Park is spectacular in every season. Lake Superior is located just one mile east of Grand Portage State Park.

Frozen waterfall in the forest

Can you fish at Grand Portage State Park in Minnesota?

Grand Portage is located on native tribal lands so I don’t believe you can fish inside the park. However, fishing is allowed in other parts of Pigeon River and in nearby Lake Superior. Anglers should abide by Minnesota and Canadian water border regulations especially for steelhead, trout, and salmon.

Does Grand Portage State Park have a swimming beach?

No. Grand Portage State Park does not have a swimming beach.

Can you boat at Grand Portage State Park? Does Grand Portage State Park offer a boat ramp?

No. Grand Portage State Park does not allow boating or have a boat ramp.

Does Grand Portage State Park have a campground? Can you camp at Grand Portage State Park?

No. Grand Portage is a day-use state park. Visitors may park for four hours maximum. Overnight camping in the parking lot at Grand Portage State Park is not permitted.

Where to stay near Grand Portage State Park?

I recommend staying at one of the best resorts centrally located on the North Shore. The dog-friendly Caribou Highlands Lodge is one hour south in Lutsen, MN and features ski-in, ski-out townhomes. And it’s dog-friendly. While our stay at Caribou Highlands Lodge was hosted, opinions are always my own.

How big is Grand Portage State Park in Minnesota?

Grand Portage State Park in Minnesota covers 278 scenic acres.  

Is Grand Portage State Park buggy? Mosquitos? Ticks?

I don’t recall Grand Portage State Park particularly buggy. However, I always apply picaridin and Aunt Fanny’s DEET-free mosquito wipes when hiking in Minnesota state parks. .

How long and how difficult are the hiking trails at Grand Portage State Park?

Grand Portage State Park hiking trail winter

Grand Portage State Park offers six miles of hiking trails – from an easy 0.5-mile out-and-back to a rugged and steep 4.5-mile hike.

High Falls Trail offers a 1.5-mile stroller-friendly and wheelchair-accessible paved path and boardwalk to the majestic waterfall. Please note that winter conditions may not allow accessibility. And the steps leading up to the observation decks may be snowy or icy in winter.

One hiking trail I’m looking forward to exploring is the rugged  and steep 4.5-mile hike that leads to Middle Falls and stunning views of Lake Superior. And on a clear day, you may even see the Isle Royale National Park in Michigan.

Three nations selfie sign at Grand Portage State Park in Minnesota

The flat and easy 0.5-mile Picnic Trail takes you to the selfie station for a unique photo op. A sign points to the three different nations you can see in one location: U.S., Canada, and Grand Portage tribal lands.

Are hiking poles needed on the trails at Grand Portage State Park?

You do not need hiking poles on the boardwalk or Picnic Trail. However, I plan to take my hiking poles when I set out on the rugged Middle Falls trail.

Snowshoeing or cross-country skiing trails at Grand Portage State Park?

Grand Portage hiking trail in winter - Minnesota state park

You can bring or rent snowshoes at Grand Portage State Park in the winter. Additionally, winter hiking to see the frozen waterfalls is magical. See my full review on the most scenic frozen waterfalls in Minnesota.

Can you snowmobile at Grand Portage State Park?

No. Grand Portage State Park is too rugged and not suitable for snowmobiles.

What are the best views at Grand Portage State Park?

High Falls Grand Portage State Park best waterfalls in Minnesota

Grand Portage State Park offers several scenic views. The most popular views at Grand Portage State Park are from the three observation decks overlooking High Falls. You can also enjoy scenic views at Middle Falls and of Lake Superior from the highest elevation in Grand Portage State Park. See related post, Top 12 breathtaking views in Minnesota, where Grand Portage’s High Falls are featured.

Are there bike trails at Grand Portage State Park?

No. Grand Portage State Park does not feature bike trails..

Does Grand Portage State Park feature equestrian trails?

No. Grand Portage State Park does not have horseback trails.

Does Grand Portage State Park have a visitor center? Modern restrooms?

Grand Portage State Park signage visitor center rest area in Minnesota North Shore

Yes. Grand Portage State Park, a Class I Highway Rest Area and Explore Minnesota Travel Information, offers a lobby, drinking fountain, and modern restrooms 24 hours a day. Interpretative signage lines the paved path from the parking lot to the lobby.

Grand Portage State Park signage visitor center rest area in Minnesota North Shore - turtle mosaic

Inside, you’ll find a beautiful turtle floor mural and interpretative exhibits to learn more about Grand Portage Anishinabe / Ojibwe people. Additionally, a gift shop is often open.

Is Grand Portage State Park dog-friendly?

Yes. Leashed dogs and pets are welcome on Grand Portage State Park hiking trails. All Minnesota state parks welcome dogs except inside buildings. Leashes must be six feet or less.

Are there bears and moose at Grand Portage State Park?

Yes. Moose and black bears occasionally make an appearance at Grand Portage State Park. You’re more apt to see them on the less-traveled Middle Falls hiking trail. Also watch for deer, beavers, river otters, eagles, and other birds.

Is firewood available at Grand Portage State Park?

No. Firewood is not for sale at Grand Portage State Park. This Minnesota state park does not feature any firepits. However, you can find grills in the picnic area.

At other state parks, you may not bring in your own firewood or collect firewood in the park. To protect Minnesota trees, you can only burn certified wood on MN DNR land. Collection is not allowed in state parks and you may not bring firewood from home. This helps prevent spreading harmful insects and diseases.

How far is Grand Portage State Park from the Twin Cities – Minneapolis and St. Paul (MSP) airport?

Grand Portage State Park is located 308 miles from the Minneapolis – St. Paul (MSP) International Airport.

What’s near Grand Portage State Park? Top things to do near Grand Portage State Park?

Grand Portage National Monument exhibit Minnesota

Here are the top things to do near Grand Portage State Park in Minnesota.  

  • Pictured: The Grand Portage National Monument, heritage center, and living history village and depot is located 5.8 miles away. Open year-round, this national monument features educational exhibits and films about the Anishinabe (Chippewa / Ojibwe) people and the fur trading industry. You’ll also find scenic views and hiking trails.
  • Take the ferry from Grand Portage on Lake Superior to Isle Royale National Park – 22 miles away – May through October.
  • Grand Portage Lodge and Casino, open 24 hours, is located 6.7 miles from Grand Portage State Park.
  • Bring your passport and road-trip it to Thunder Bay, Ontario just 39 miles north. Here you’ll find several waterfalls including the majestic Kakabeka Falls. Known as the Niagara of the North, Kakabeka Falls is 130 feet / 40 meters high
  • The charming community of Grand Marais is located 41 miles south of Grand Portage South Park. Check out this guide to the scenic North Shore / Highway 61 for more waterfalls, hiking trails, and photo-op stops.
  • Plan to hike all 66 Minnesota state parks? Judge C.R. Magney State Park is the closest Minnesota state park to Grand Portage State Park.  This scenic state park with waterfalls is located 26 miles south of Grand Portage State Park. I also recommend Cascade River State Park, which is 53 miles south of Grand Portage on the North Shore.

When was Grand Portage State Park in Minnesota established?

Grand Portage State Park was established in 1989 through the partnership between the State of Minnesota and the Grand Portage Band of Chippewa Native Americans. The State of Minnesota leases the land from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

How did Grand Portage State Park get its name?

The Ojibwe called this area Gichi-Onigamiing which means Great Carrying Place. French fur traders, in turn, called it Grand Portage. With its rugged wilderness, tall waterfall, river rapids, cliffs, and gorges, it was challenging to navigate. The only way was to go around and it became known as The Grand Portage. Sources: Grand Portage National Monument and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Does Grand Portage State Park host deer hunts? Is Grand Portage State Park closed during deer season?

No. Grand Portage State Park does not typically host deer hunts during deer hunting season. However, it’s always a good idea to check. For a complete list of which Minnesota state parks are closed or limited to the public during deer season, see my post: Hiker safety: MN state parks that host deer hunts.

Hiking safety tip during deer season: Wear bright orange when hiking during deer season. I typically avoid hiking at all even if the state park is partially open to non-hunters.

A list of the best Minnesota state parks

Grand Portage State Park in Minnesota hiking trail boardwalk

All Minnesota state parks are the best in my opinion. You can read reviews of each one to create your own list of top-ranked Minnesota state parks: Take the Minnesota state park challenge


Pin it for later: A local’s guide to Grand Portage State Park in Minnesota

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Best things to do at Grand Portage State Park in Minnesota

Best waterfalls in Minnesota - Grand Portage State Park - High Falls

Author

Twin Cities-based blogger sharing memorable emptynester, solo, family and girlfriend-getaway adventures, as well as my day hiking adventures (including all 66 Minnesota state parks), latest book reviews, and updates on my quest for the best adult mac and cheese. Also two WIPs: historical fiction and psychological thriller

30 comments

  1. Grand Portage State Park looks like a great place to enjoy some time in nature! I would love to hike in and see the beautiful views of Lake Superior.

  2. I’m hoping to make a trip to Minnesota in the next couple years and this looks like the perfect hiking spot to add to my list. Beautiful photos!

  3. I love that you are dedicated to hiking all of Minnesota’s State Parks. Grand Portage is as beautiful as many of your other hiking spots.

  4. I love finding places to visit with waterfalls, flowing or iced. 🙂 I like that the Minnesota, Grand Portage State Park sits on the border of three nations.

  5. High Falls sounds like a must-do! I also appreciate it when state and national parks have nice boardwalks. It allows for more people to have access. I don’t think I’ll visit in the winter, though. We’re having a cold spell, and it’s freezing!

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