Every year, on the November anniversary of the sinking if the Edmund Fitzgerald, there is a special day of activities at Split Rock Lighthouse, capped by a memorial service that includes the lighting of the lighthouse lamp at sundown. This is such a popular event that even though there had been cold and snow along the Shore for weeks, most campsites at Split Rock were taken for the weekend and some folks lingered into the next week. Intrepid campers we Minnesotans! Water is shut off in the campground bathhouse at this time if year, but if you are a hardy winter camper, and you dont mind using outhouses, then camping here in winter is do-able. The campsites are pretty much all walkin sites, but there are carts available. There are regular bathrooms in the visitor center but that is a long way from the campground! However, if you are prepared to rough it and know how to stay warm in the off season, it is possible to camp here, and the quiet winter season, the special light of the short winter days, and the amazing wild moods of Lake Superior in winter, make it worthwhile to try the experience! Probably best not to take the campsites close to shore though as waves crash way up onto land when the winter storms pick up
This campground has 18 sites, that are cart-in only. You park in the paved parking lot, and use the provided carts to haul your equipment to your site. They are between 200 and 1800 feet away, on hilly gravel trails. Each site is private, some are are hidden from the trail. Some are on the cliff edge, overlooking Lake Superior.
There is a nice shower and bathroom facility at the trail head. Water is available as well.
The Park requires a State Park permit, and a daily camping fee applies.
The area has many hiking trails, and the very popular and legendary Split Rock Lighthouse.
I absolutely love the Minnesota North Shore of Lake Superior. For the last six years we have driven up there approximately twice a year, and we have yet to run out of new places to explore or grow bored of the places that we have already been. My absolutely favorite place to camp so far has been Split Rock Lighthouse State Park. I’ve reviewed cart-in site 19 on The Dyrt previously, this time I’m reviewing cart-in site 9. The best part of camping here is that every campsite is unique, and most of them offer more privacy than you would get at a drive-in campground. You definitely get less road noise the closer you are to the lake.
There is a parking lot designated for cart-in campers. The carts themselves are kind of hidden behind a row of trees, just walk towards the bathroom structure in order to find them. Grab the cart with your campsite number on it and keep it at your site until you are ready to pack out. Keep in mind that MOST of the campsites require pushing the cart up or down a hill, so maybe take multiple trips or have extra people help carry some of the mid-weight items.
The obvious draw to this park is the lighthouse- it is run by the Minnesota Historical Society and you have to pay to even get up close to it. We have yet to cough up the fee to enter this area, but there are numerous places on the edge of the cliffs that offer great views of the lighthouse (the most Instagrammable spots are definitely outside of this special fee zone). The trail system is relatively extensive thanks to some regional trails cutting through the park. The Superior Hiking trail and paved Gitchi-Gami trails are some options, and one of the hiking trails is open to mountain bikers as well.
We actually tend to just hang out at our campsite when we camp here, but we did go on the Day Hill trail and went up to the observation point. It was unexpectedly beautiful and also featured a random fireplace that is apparently a great spot for a fire.
Camgpround: 5/5 stars
As a Dyrt Ranger I was offered the opportunity to review the RōM Pack from RōM Outdoors. It is a 3-in-1 engineered feat that offers you the ability to use it as a hiking pack, a poncho, or a blanket. I have to admit that I was skeptical when I first received it. This thing is made out of heavy duty materials and weighs in at 4.6 pounds, is wider than me, and when it was empty it really didn’t form to my body at all. I was really pleased that I wound up loving it!
What I really loved about it is that the wide straps really distribute the weight well on your body. I was nervous about how heavy it was already when it was empty, and for our major day hike I had probably between 15-20 pounds extra in it. This probably doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but in addition to having a generally achy back I’ve had a LOT of stress-induced tightness in my neck and upper back. Despite this, I wound up carrying the pack for most of our moderately-difficult ~5 hour hike on the Superior Hiking Trail to Bean and Bear lake.
I never felt any soreness from this pack at all, and in fact the only reason I asked my husband to carry it for the last stretch was because my glutes were giving out (fitness tracker said we climbed 121 flights of stairs!!). I was thrilled that when I took off the pack that all of my recent stiffness was reduced by about 90%!!! The weight of the pack combined with all of my movement must have stretched my muscles out in a therapeutic way. Some of the stiffness has creeped back, and I’m tempted to cancel all of my appointments that I scheduled last week for it and just go for another hike with this pack instead!
I got to try out the poncho feature at Tettegouche state park on my last North Shore day- it was ~45 degrees and was constantly raining. I was able to figure out how to convert the pack into a poncho quite easily, but I will definitely need a tutorial to convert it back into a pack. The thickness of the material was perfect for keeping me warm in this temperature- it might be too heavy for a hot weather rain. I felt a little self-conscious because of the backpack straps hanging off the front. You can either keep your hands inside of the poncho or use the snap buttons to close up the edges into sleeves.
Opportunities for improvements
Snap button strength- I only wore the rompack as a poncho for a 1.5 mile hike. I used the snaps to create “sleeves” and most of the snaps came undone with basic movements.
Waist straps- I only used the chest load balance strap since I found that the waist strap wasn’t terribly comfortable. I definitely would have preferred a waist strap that features padding like the Journey pack.
Chest strap tightness- I had this load balance strap as tight as it would go- and there is definitely an opportunity to make the non-adjustable side of the straps adjustable.
Poncho hood coverage- My head is big- women’s hats generally don’t fit me. I thought that the hood could be slightly larger or feature a bill that pops out to prevent rain from getting on my face/glasses.
Shoulder strap placement- When you are wearing this product as a poncho the straps kind of just hang down the front. I’m not a backpack/poncho engineer, but it seemed like you could easily rotate the hood opening 180 degrees and have the straps go down your back instead. It also seems like there is an opportunity to put snaps on the shoulder pads to keep them flat against the poncho.
Bottle holders- the pack features two mesh pockets for water bottles or other things that you want to keep handy. They aren’t stretchy, which means that wider water bottles might not be able to be stored here.
Colors- Hopefully as RōM Outdoors grows they could expand their color selection.
-the lighthouse is a must-see, but if you’re done with the history and the rock piles, you can wade out to the island to the right (the south) of the lighthouse! Go to the point of the rock beach that sticks out towards the island and be careful in the middle - it gets slippery. It’s easier in the fall but can be done in the summer!
-would not recommend the wade for children
Split Rock Lighthouse is one of my favorite trips when visiting Duluth. Waking up to seeing Lake Superior is just as amazing as the hiking trails nearby. This campsite is a great balance between nature and still being close to civilization. I would recommend this spot for a quick hike or a few nights stay. There's plenty to do and see in this area that you truly can't spend enough time here.
I love Split Rock lighthouse state park. Of all of the North Shore campgrounds, I think that this one has the best campsites. Sure if you have a lake view you are on a cliff and can't readily access the lake from your site, but the views are amazing. I believe that we had cart-in site 18 and it was a site worth remembering. The trail to the campsites was a little more strenuous than a few other cart-in campground that I've been to, but it wasn't a deterrent at all to visiting again. In addition to the great view the other amazing aspect of this site was how private it felt. We couldn't see or hear our neighbors at all. A few of the cart-in sites are definitely on display though. Overall experience was worth dealing with pit toilets being the only nearby option.
We spent two nights here in late October and froze at night. I would recommend a cold temp sleeping bag for sure if you are here in the fall. Also make sure to note that your state park pass does not get you access to the light house, there is an additional fee to go past a secured boundary. Make sure to make your reservations ASAP because this campground fills up FAST.
When driving the North Shore it's always a treat to stop and stretch those legs at the Lighthouse. There is a wonderful re-creation of what it was like during the time the Lighthouse was active, pending the time of year, volunteers are in character telling tales and wandering around the site. There are also some lovely trails that are easy hiking even for little ones! I have been in the spring, summer and fall - every season brings it's own beauty and grace!
This campground was gorgeous! It was so nice waking up to breathtaking views of Lake Superior. We really appreciate privacy while camping, and these sites were spaced pretty far apart with forest in between. This place books up fast, so be sure to make reservations 6 months to a year in advance. Also I'd recommend packing light, as you need to park your car in the lot and cart in all your camping equipment. Each site gets a cart to help lug everything. It also gets cold at night, so bring some warm clothes! A lot of beautiful hikes in the area. This campground is hands down a place my husband and I will try to book every year. Five stars!
Nicely kept. Very convenient. The lighthouse is a classic photo opportunity.
We had switched our reservations during our stay using the website. This was done easily with the cell phone service available. We found site 1 during a hike while staying at site 2. The reason we chose to move was that it was a particularly cold and windy week in November. This was making it hard to obtain water for filtering at the rocky water front at site 2. The hike is easy as the trails are groomed. Site 1 is right off the beach. Obtaining water is easy in all of the seasons. There is a water break to prevent the waves. Site 1 is considerable more sheltered with trees. This was great for fire wood and places to put up the tarp for wind break. There is a convenient half bench and table top. There is log seating and a fire ring with a swinging grate. There is a cleared path to the latrine. It is guarded on three sides with a well built pedestal. The view is amazing. There is a small path that takes you to a clearing on the rock cliff to over see the beach bay area. Passing hikers will invade your site if you do not clip up your reservation sheet. There is not a place to do so for this site so I recommend you bring a rubber binder or something to adhere it to the post. During the summer months I can imagine there is a lot of traffic with this site being so close to the beach. We went the first week of November. A lot of the hiking trails were being used for hunting. We didn't see the post until we were there. Hiking was limited to the campgrounds.