Lake Vermilion, Minnesota

The Ojibwe originally named Lake Vermilion Nee-Man-Nee, “the evening sun tinting the water a reddish color.” Today we refer to it as Vermilion, meaning red pigment. This lake is located in the area of northeastern Minnesota known as the Arrowhead Region, about 200 miles from Minneapolis but only 85 miles from Duluth. It is near the Superior National Forest and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). A shallow lake (only about 76 feet), it covers 40,000 acres of water, or 40 miles and contains 365 islands and 1,200 miles of shoreline.

If you want fish, you can expect to find muskellunge, brown bullhead, largemouth bass, bluegill, and black crappie, as well as the walleye and muskie that are most prominent.

There are many other places of interest in the area. Let’s start with the Soudan Underground Mine State Park. This is Minnesota’s oldest iron ore mine that offers an tour that takes you half a mile underground to see what is left of the excavation. But that’s not all. The area has wonderful hiking trails through a conifer forest and past the Soudan Iron Formation.

If you are more interested in wildlife, try the North American Bear Center. This is the only black bear and wildlife educational facility of its kind. There are exhibits and videos that help you learn about the black bear and its lifestyle in its shrinking habitat.

The Wilderness at Fortune Bay, part of Fortune Bay Resort Casino, is one of the most scenic golf courses in the Midwest. It is perfect for long hitters with over 7,000 from the back tees. The course is designed to challenge any skill level. All the carts come equipped with a GPS system to manage the pace of play.

Also at the Fortune Bay Resort is the Bois Forte Ojibwe Legend House, a resource for understanding the Atisokanigamig people, including a birch bark dwelling and tipi. It is easily accessible for the disabled with the free use of a wheelchair. There is plenty of parking which can accommodate busses.

The Howard Wagoner ski trail is about 11.5 kilometers of both easy and intermediate runs that move through the pines. They also have a short, lighted loop for evening skiing. The trails are single tracked and groomed.

Eateries include the 1930s style Good Ol’ Days Bar and Grill, Crescent Bar and Grill, and Sulu’s Espresso Café. For more formal dining, try the casino and choose from Tamarack for all you can eat, Sunset Steakhouse, Gold Mine Grill, or in season the Wilderness Grill.

The nearby city of Cook was first called Little Fork for the river that flows through it. Then it became Ashawa (“by the river”). However, the Postal Service often confused the name with a similar city in southern Minnesota, so they finally settled on Cook to honor the railroad owner that improved the economy at the turn of the 20th century.

As you can tell, Lake Vermillion has a lot to offer as a vacation destination for the family that loves outdoors and nature.

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