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Day Trip to Vermilion Falls in Minnesota


It's easy to enjoy the spectacular scenery at Vermilion Falls!

Here are some turn-by-turn directions for a great Day Trip from International Falls to Vermilion Falls about and hour-and-a-half south. The route goes through forestry roads offering maximum opportunity for wildlife watching. Vermilion Falls is in the Superior National Forest just south of Voyageurs National Park. As you can see, there are rails and walkways to provide safe access.

There are also birding trails nearby, and St. Louis county 116, also known as the echo trail, goes past numerous recreation sites in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Going west, you will encounter Voyageurs National Park. The park is one of the few water based National Parks and camping is available by motorboat on the four major lakes.



Start at the Beginning!

Second Avenue West at Third Street, Int'l Falls, MN

This is where my office is, the Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau share space in the former BN Depot, which has largely been kept as it was during it's operational years. This is where Highway 53 begins as it winds it's way south to Duluth, where US 2 and I 35 all meet with 53.

US 71 provides access to the Falls from the west.

This is also where the United States meets Canada, the Rainy River seperates International Falls, Minnesota and Fort Frances, Ontario, Canada. Just to the east, Voyageurs National Park starts spreading out over Rainy, Kabetogama, Namakan and Sand Point Lakes. To the west, Lake of the Woods hides the Northwest Angle of Minnesota in a corner of Manitoba, Canada.

All roads lead to.......

All roads lead to.......

All roads lead to.......



Take 53 south to Ray!

The first leg of the journey will be traveling south on Highway 53 to Ray, Minnesota, about 20 miles down the road. There are some sights to see in International Falls, but that's another lens. I have tossed in a small sample of falls area photos below for your enjoyment.

As you head south, you pass through Ericsburg and over the Rat Root River half-way to Ray. At Ray, take a right onto Minnesota 217 and follow this west to Koochiching County 29 a little over a mile away, and take a left. You are now heading south and after a couple of miles on 29 the road will become the Haney Forestry Road.



Forest Road Intersection

Meanwhile, back to the trip, you will stay with the Haney Road until it meets with the North Ash Lake Forestry Road, and you will go left to follow this forestry road back to Highway 53 South. You meet the Highway just north of Ash Lake, turn right and head south toward Cusson.

DNR Water Access maps are available.

DNR Water Access maps are available.

DNR Water Access maps are available.



Take a Left!

When you reach Cusson, you will want to go left on County Road 180, which will go north past a couple of other Superior National Forest Roads until you meet #203 where you pass by pilings on the south end of Elephant Lake. You will stay with this forestry road past the aptly named "Bug Creek" walking trail, a prime trail for birders. Head north on 203 until you meet with SNFR 491 near Franklin Lake, where there is another walking trail prized by birders. You will head east, or to the right on SNFR 491 for just a couple miles and you will come to the Vermilion Falls parking area on your right. If you pass by this road, there will be another parking area by the Vermilion River Bridge.

Or, here's a nice video of the High Falls

Scroll to Continue

Don't miss "The Chute"

After you check out the main falls, hike downstream, or on the north side of the bridge. The Chute is a mandatory portage providing more spectacular scenery.



Return Trip offers options.

You can return to International Falls on highway 53, or by backtracking the route you used to get here. Another option is to go south on highway 53 through Orr and turn right onto St. Louis County 74. Then go to Greaney, take a left and head south until you reach county road 75. Go right on 75 to Rauch then head north on Minnesota 65. That will take you north to Littlefork. It's a pictureasque drive where I think the greatest feature is an ornate Russian Orthodox Church between Rauch and Silverdale.

Add a little more scenic to the drive and take Koochiching County 8 and tour through the farmlands south of Littlefork. County 8 veers off to the right some 20 miles south of Littlefork and will take you into town. Once you get to Littlefork you can head back to highway 65 and go right, that will take you to US 71 and bring you back to International Falls.

St. Peter and Paul Russian Orthodox Church at Bramble, MN,

St. Peter and Paul Russian Orthodox Church at Bramble, MN,

St. Peter and Paul Russian Orthodox Church at Bramble, MN,

Why that looks like me!

Why that looks like me!

Why that looks like me!

It is me.

I was modeling this cool sweatshirt for the Falls Chamber of Commerce, they are selling them as a fundraiser. The heavy weight hockey style hoodies have a laced neck vent, there are stretch inserts to the sides and the artwork tells of our record low -55F. Prices start at $44.00 for S-M-L-XL, and $46 to $48 for anything larger. Want one, email me at, or call the International Falls Chamber of Commerce at 1-800-325-5766.

The runner's welcome sign is due to the "Freeze Yer Gizzard Blizzard Run, a 5 and 10K race that was staged that weekend. It's the 31st year for the FYGBR, and it gets a fair amount of attention. In all, 300 runners took part in one race or the other, and in several instance, both.

Anyone can comment, so please do!

Rob Hemphill from Ireland on October 20, 2012:

This sounds to be just the sort of location I could spend days at with my camera. So many lovely places to visit!

marsha32 on October 04, 2012:

Minnesota is one of the states I've not had the opportunity to visit.

anonymous on October 14, 2011:

Stoppping back just to smile, would love to make a day trip to Vermillion Falls in the spring again!

Moe Wood from Eastern Ontario on September 22, 2011:

With a name like "vermilion" it has to beautiful.

agoofyidea on August 30, 2011:

What a cool area. Great lens.

anonymous on August 24, 2011:

Thanks for the virtual tour. Nice photographs. Thanks for sharing this.

ForestBear LM on July 06, 2011:

Looks beautiful! Thank you for sharing

sheriangell on June 10, 2011:

I've never been to Minnesota unless the airport in Minneapolis counts! Now I want to visit your beautiful state. Blessed by a SquidAngel today.

Pete Schultz (author) on May 09, 2011:

@anonymous: It is the high falls on the Vermilion River, which flows out of Lake Vermiolion, so named because the lake is very long, and very east-west oriented, so sunsets are always reflected. Thus, the lake of the sunset glow, or Vermilion to the French fur traders and trappers that showed up.

anonymous on May 06, 2011:

What a great trip guide to Vermilion Falls. Wondering why the name "Vermilon Falls" was chosen?

Pete Schultz (author) on April 12, 2011:

@gravityx9: thanks for the comments, let me know if you plan to visit, I can provide information on things to see and do all the way from Rochester to here.

gravityx9 on April 12, 2011:

nice photos! My in-laws live in Rochester, MN. Some day we will have to stay a while and see the sights - didn't know what I was missing! (of course that would be when the family is sick of us staying with them...3 or 4 days - hehe)

anonymous on March 24, 2011:

Very interesting lens, with beautiful photos. I've never been to Minnesota--this makes me want to visit!

Pete Schultz (author) on March 15, 2011:

@GetSillyProduct: I didn't even walk in the race. I'm more likely to exercise indoors in the winter, with a tough, strenous round of double-in/double-out 301 or cricket. During such a work out, you have to remain hydrated, so I usually play in our local Muni.

GetSillyProduct on March 14, 2011:

did you run in the race?

LouisaDembul on March 03, 2011:

It looks like a wonderful place!

LoKackl on February 24, 2011:

looks lovely! nice to meet you!

Malu Couttolenc on February 22, 2011:

It looks like a wonderful place to visit. Hope I can visit someday :)

Lisa Auch from Scotland on February 07, 2011:

wow your photos are amazing, and I loved my day visit thanks!

Salvatore LM on January 21, 2011:

What a great place to visit, I love waterfalls!


MargoPArrowsmith on December 30, 2010:

Waterfalls are one of my most favorite things in the world!

Pete Schultz (author) on December 16, 2010:

@KimGiancaterino: take a trip to International falls at "the squidoo site "things to do RL" and visit the "Lost 40" at the squidoo site "Day trip to the lost 40" you'll find more photos and more fun. I've been browsing your lenses, and I'm impressed, fun, informative and easy to read. Keep up the great work.

KimGiancaterino on December 16, 2010:

Nice photos ... I really like the one of the church against a blue sky. I've never been to Minnesota and have enjoyed this mini tour.

Pete Schultz (author) on December 14, 2010:

@julieannbrady: The best time of year is in the spring, when the leaves are greening. The insect populations have not yet sprouted out, there still plenty of winter run-off to add to the spectacular rush of water, and the temperature are usually pretty moderate. Lets say Memorial Day weekend through to mid-June. However, the trip is worth it anytime of the summer or fall to see the falls. In the winter, it is inaccessible as the roads are not plowed, and any ice above or below the falls is clearly unsafe.

julieannbrady on December 14, 2010:

Gadzooks, I will bet it is cold up there. I just checked your map. You are nearly in Canada. When is the BEST time of year for that day trip?

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