Best time to travel to Minnesota

Gooseberry Falls in Minnesota

A heart-stoppingly scenic series of waterfalls on the Lake Superior shoreline

Gooseberry Falls
Gooseberry Falls
Gooseberry Falls
Gooseberry Falls
Middle Falls at Gooseberry Falls State Park from the River View Trail.
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Gooseberry Falls resides in the eponymous state park near Two Harbors in Lake County, Minnesota. It encompasses three impressive drops named Upper, Middle, and Lower falls, each being considerably wide yet modestly-tall. Anyways, the falls enjoy immense popularity year-round, comparing to other waterfalls on the North Shore of Lake Superior. So do not expect solitude during your visit here, be ready to share the beauty with others.

When is the best time to visit Gooseberry Falls?

The best time of year to visit Gooseberry Falls depends on how you want to see it—these waterfalls are definitely not a single-season destination. Some people are attracted by spring runoff. However, the gushing flow may also occur in summer or fall after torrents. In the summer, you can swim in the pools at the bottoms of the falls when the flow is low. Note that in June and August, the park tends to be packed too. Fall foliage season is absolutely grandiose. Still, many favor winter for the wondrous frozen waterfalls along with skiing and snowshoeing options. Gooseberry Falls State Park is open daily from 9 am to 4 pm, with extended evening hours in summer. So the final decision on when to go is up to you.

Gooseberry Falls facts

The Upper Falls nestled just north (upstream) of the Hwy 61 Road Bridge plunges 30 feet (9 m) into the Gooseberry River. The Middle and Lower Falls sit downstream of the bridge and measure 60 feet (18 m) together. The river advances down through the lovely piece of Minnesota's forests, draining into splendid Lake Superior. The earliest documented mentions of Gooseberry Falls and River date back to 1670. A French explorer Grosseilliers could have had named the river after himself, for "grosseilliers" is French for "gooseberries." Another version has it that the native peoples attributed the name to the river.

How to get to Gooseberry Falls?

You can explore three waterfalls from different vantage points by trying multiple hiking options. Take Waterfalls Walk to see the Middle and Upper Falls in 30–40 minutes. Or opt for the Falls View Loop to cover all three waterfalls, but allow 45–90 minutes for this hike. Also, check out River View Trail for a different view. The ease of accessibility is one of the reasons for Gooseberry Falls's high ranking. That said, be careful on the trails and don't get too close to the river during the high flow. Also, if you are up to driving to the lakeshore or Picnic Flow, you'll need a vehicle permit, which can be purchased at the park.

Things to do at Gooseberry Falls

To make the most of your visit, consider pairing your waterfall experience with other exciting things to do. Explore the network of hikes, go camping, and get a glimpse of local wildlife. Check out some seasonal highlights: spot hummingbird migration in summer, chase northern lights at the Silver Bay, or take in the Duluth fall colors. Winter is likewise rich in offers: you can go skiing, look for some knife-sharp ice shards on Lake Superior, or head to the annual Ely Winter Festival, just north of Duluth.

Where to stay at Gooseberry Falls?

Gooseberry Falls State Park Campground is one of the best options to stay close to Gooseberry Falls. It operates all year, providing 70 single-family campsites, three group sites, and a camping site for kayakers. Restrooms and showers are available too. Alternatively, examine various hotels in the area nearby (see map below or on the right) and choose what suits you most.

When you make up your mind to visit Gooseberry Falls State Park, plan ahead. Make sure to buy your vehicle permit or ski passes in advance. Also, pack according to the weather. And feel free to check up for the latest updates with the Gooseberry Falls State Park.

Practical info

What are some attractions at the park?

Apart from the main attraction, the three waterfalls visible from various trails, Gooseberry Falls provides ample recreational activities to enjoy including camping, skiing, and grilling. The geographical sceneries of the North Shore forests are worth exploring, and if you are lucky, you might get a glimpse of the Hummingbird migration. Winter promises aurora borealis display and frozen falls, among many other activities which visitors explore. Show more

When is the ideal time to explore Gooseberry Falls?

Gooseberry Falls has a lot to offer at every point in time, making exploring it a year-round activity. Spring runoff is captivating to watch, yet the low summer water level offers an opportunity to swim in the falls' pools. Watching fall foliage in Gooseberry is an enriching experience, although it attracts many tourists. In winter, visitors immerse themselves in snow-based activities like skiing, snowshoeing, among others. Show more

What are the available transport options to Gooseberry Falls?

There are various options to go to Gooseberry Falls, such as hiking options to access the Waterfall Walk, Falls View Loop, and River View Trail. Visitors can also bring their vehicles, but they must purchase a vehicle permit, which is available in the park. The map of the surrounding area or the official Gooseberry Falls State Park website helps visitors identify the best hotels, campgrounds, and other vital locations for them in the vicinity. Show more

What are the accommodation options near Gooseberry Falls?

The best way to be near the Gooseberry Falls is to book a campsite in the State Park. There are several campsites with restrooms, showers, and kayaker camping sites available. Alternatively, visitors can book nearby lodges and hotels as per their preference. On a closing note, visitors must prepare for the weather beforehand and must be aware of the latest updates from the official website of the State Park. Show more

What are some historical facts about Gooseberry Falls?

The Gooseberry falls have a long history dating back to 1670 and have been recognized for centuries. The park's name has two theories about its origin; the name Grosseillers, which means gooseberries in French, came from a French explorer named Grosseillers or gooseberries are named by local tribes. Branching from the main falls, the Upper falls delve 30 feet into the Gooseberry River upstream of the Hwy 61 Road Bridge, followed by the Middle and Lower falls combined measuring 60 feet below the road bridge. Show more

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Last updated: by Olha Savych