Minnesota North Shore Hopes Dark Sky Will Attract New Visitors

November 13, 2017 11:35 PM

From Split Rock Lighthouse to Gooseberry Falls, beautiful sights bring people to Minnesota's North Shore.

Now the area is hoping to cash in on its dark sky to attract tourists.


Visit Cook County in Grand Marais has created an ad campaign to see the stars. The area is one of the darkest places east of the Mississippi River. The tourism bureau has created a map of the best locations around the county to star gaze.

"Anybody can feel that darkness and experience that dark and quiet that we have up here," said Kjersti Vick, marketing director with Visit Cook County. "I would say we get at least five phone calls a week minimum, plus another two dozen emails a week, people asking about star gazing. 'Where can I see the Northern Lights?' 'What time can I see the Northern Lights?' 'Is there a chance I'm going to see the Northern Lights?' So people are really excited about this."

Grand Marais Mayor Jay Arrowsmith-Decoux supports the campaign.

"People come up here because they want to get a little bit closer to nature," Arrowsmith-Decoux said. "I used to live and work in Grand Canyon National Park and in Grand Canyon National Park, they would have star parties and people would come from states and states away. They would drive for 12 hours to come to these star parties, they would set up telescopes and then they would sit and look at the sky. If we could do that then we could be a destination for that as well."

Bryan Hansel is a professional photographer in Grand Marais. Hansel helped Visit Cook County create the best locations to see the stars. 

"Really, it just comes down to having fun and adventure," Hansel said. "I think it's a good thing. I think it will attract more people to the area."

Click here to see the amount of light pollution where you live.

View maps of the best stargazing spots below:

Lutsen-Tofte-Schroeder Area

Grand Marais Area

Gunflint Trail Area


Joe Mazan

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