It’s the first day of September, which, in our neck of the woods, means begrudgingly turning on the heat for early morning showers, pulling out the comfy sweaters and getting ready for the amazing show that is northern Minnesota in September and October!
Northern Comfort, just a half an hour from Ely, Minnesota, is an excellent ‘home base’ for fall leaf peeping roadtrips. This year, the Farmer’s Almanac tells us we’re in for a warmer fall, so we’ll be keeping an eye on the foliage and reporting the progress on our Facebook page. The Minnesota DNR also has a great resource on its website that shows typical peak color (mid-September to early October for us!) as well as updates throughout the season.
We’ve pulled together two day trip ideas for visitors and friends, varying in length and cool things to see and do along the way!
A Full Day of Fun — The Echo Trail Loop
Plan on a full day for this trip! Head out from Northern Comfort and stop along the way to see all the great shops and attractions Ely has to offer. After a bit of sightseeing, shopping and eating, head up the Echo Trail, a 72 mile long gravel and asphalt road through the northern wilderness. This loop heads through Orr, then Cook before coming back to the farm.
Actual drive time
Between three and four hours, plan on a full day to see everything
Ely, Orr and Cook
Things to See
- North American Bear Center, Ely
- International Wolf Center, Ely
- Ely Folk School, Ely
- Dorthy Molter Museum, Ely
- Wintergreen Northern Wear – Made in Ely
- Steger Mukluks, Ely
- Piragis Northwoods Company, Ely
- Sisu Designs Yarn Shop, Ely
- Insula – Contemporary farm to table with a northwoods twist, Ely
- Ely Steak House – Great food in a casual setting, Ely
- Sir G’s – Pizza and Italian entrees, Ely
- Front Porch – Coffee, tea and gifts, Ely
Embarrass to Ely – Route 21 to highway 169 (Sheridan Street in Ely)
In Ely, turn left on highway 169/Sheridan Street and right onto Echo Trail/Ely-Buyks Road
Along the Echo Trail – Continue on the Echo Trail through Buyck. Turn right onto Route 23/Orr-Buyck Road. If you choose to take the sidetrip, that will be along this stretch.
Orr to Embarrass – Turn left on Route 53 in Orr, continue on Route 53 to Highway 169. Head north on 169 and turn right on Route 21, returning to the B&B
Want to add a little more to your day? Plan on taking a side trip to Crane Lake. Located between Ely and Orr, this small resort town is literally where the road ends in northern Minnesota. Will add about 30 minutes to your overall drive time. Also check out the Vermillion Gorge while you’re in the area!
Short and Sweet — The Bearhead Lake State Park Loop
Looking for great views, but want to head somewhere a bit closer to home? Then head out towards Lake Vermillion, Tower-Soudan and the amazing Bearhead Lake State Park. Depending on stops along the way, this will take a half to 3/4 of a day.
Actual drive time
Between one and two hours, plan on a half to 3/4 day trip to see everything
Tower, Soudan and Lake Vermillion
Things to See Along the Way
- Fortune Bay Resort and Casino, Lake Vermillion
- Bois Forte Heritage Center, Lake Vermillion
- Soudan Underground Mine State Park, Soudan
- UBetcha Antiques and Uniques, Tower
- Tourist Trap Flea Market (Fri, Sat, Sun), Tower
- Bay View Lodge (Thu-Sun), Lake Vermillion
- Wilderness Grill, Lake Vermillion
- Good Ol Days Bar and Grill, Tower
- Sulu’s Espresso Cafe, Tower
Embarrass to Tower/Soudan – Route 21 to Route 169, turn right
Tower to Bearhead – continue north on 169, turn right onto Bearhead Lake state road – about 10 miles north of Soudan
Looking for just a little more sightseeing? Don’t miss out on the Nelimark Homestead Museum & Gift Shop. This traditional Finnish homestead is just up the road from Northern Comfort and is a great place to learn about the amazing history of this corner of the Iron Range.
Autumn at the B&B
There’s nothing like a steamy sauna on a chilly night or sipping coffee in the gazebo watching the sun come up. We also have a cozy fireplace in the living room and fire ring outdoors perfect for ghost stories and roasting marshmallows. Watch our Facebook page and website for information on the Northern Comfort Fall Fest this October!
Ready for a stay at Northern Comfort? Check our availability and book your getaway! Also, please subscribe to Notes from the Farm, a monthly newsletter with a little gossip, recipes, pictures and special online offers for the B&B and our gift shop.