After visiting Grand Portage State Park on the Minnesota/Canada border, we made our way into the town of Grand Portage to visit Grand Portage National Monument, a historic fur trade fort located on the shores of Lake Superior.
We first stopped off at the visitor center, which had a surprising amount of cars in the parking lot. The visitor center itself was beautiful and I was able to get some details about the site from one of the rangers on staff, as well as get my National Park passport stamped. We also took a quick look through the museum before heading across the street to the historic site.
While we visited the had several people volunteering as actors, who helped bring the old trading post to life. There are three main buildings, (two of which are located within the fort,) and also several outdoor exhibits.
Our first stop was among the Ojibwe village located just outside the fort door. We also checked out the building behind which was a replica of a canoe warehouse.
Once inside the fort gates, there are two main buildings to explore. The first that we went into was the smaller kitchen. Someone was inside making real food, and a chalkboard outside the kitchen explained what was on the “menu” that day. We even saw the toast cooking in the fire!
Just outside the kitchen is also an outdoor oven.
The Great Hall building housed many different exhibits including a fur trade shop, a main dining area, and a hat shop. It was really neat to see how those hats would have been made.
Just before you exit the fort on the lake side, you can see one of the giant canoes voyageurs would have used back in the day.
As you can see, they also have plaques located around the outside with details about other buildings that would have been located inside the fort. Our next stop was to exit out the gate shown above and head out to the docks.
After this we were beginning to get hungry so knew we should start heading back towards Grand Marais since we still had one more state park we wanted to visit before lunch. But not before I had a chance to get a nice picture of the visitor center from the dock area.
Grand Portage National Memorial has probably the most beautiful visitor center I’ve ever seen. The staff were incredibly helpful and friendly. I wish I had realized just how much the site had to offer before visiting, because we definitely would have spent a lot longer here if we had known. Most National Monuments we have visited in the past are a fairly quick stop, spending an hour tops at a location. If you visit here, make sure to give yourself at least half a day!
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