Vacation on the the North Shore

Cook County is located at the northeastern tip of Minnesota’s Arrowhead, with Lake Superior’s north shore on one side and the Sawtooth Mountains and Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) on the other. The nearest large city is Duluth, Minnesota. We may be in northern Minnesota, but we’re easy to find and get to. Cook County, Minnesota is only four-and-a-half hours north of the Twin Cities. We’re also easy to reach from the Iron Range, Chicago, Thunder Bay, Madison and other areas in the Upper Midwest and beyond.

First, an important note on GPS, smartphones and other devices

Due to our unique location, GPS, smartphones and other devices often give incorrect directions in and around Cook County. Do not rely on GPS, smartphones or other devices for directions within Cook County. Following device directions blindly can get you lost or even stranded, which can be dangerous, particularly in the wintertime.

If you have any direction questions, please contact the Visitor Information Center.

How to get to Cook County by road – driving directions

From the Minneapolis/St. Paul Metropolitan Area
Head north on Interstate Highway 35E or 35W, then continue north on Interstate 35 toward Duluth. Follow Interstate 35 through Duluth until you see signs for Highway 61/North Shore. Follow Highway 61—the nationally recognized North Shore Scenic Drive—to Lutsen and Tofte, approximately 240 miles from the Twin Cities and 80 miles from Duluth.

From Duluth
Follow Highway 61 north to Lutsen and Tofte, approximately 80 miles from Duluth.

From Thunder Bay, Ontario
Follow Highway 61 south to the Canada/U.S. border, then continue south along the North Shore Scenic Drive to Lutsen and Tofte, approximately 100 miles/160 kilometers.

From Chicago, Illinois
Head to the NW Tollway (Interstate 90). Continue on 90 to the 90/94 split. Take 94 North to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, then head north on Wisconsin 53 North and continue on to Duluth, Minnesota. Head north on Interstate 35 in Duluth, which will take you to the Highway 61/North Shore exit. Follow the North Shore Scenic Drive to Lutsen and Tofte, for a total drive of roughly 550 miles.

Canadian border crossing information

Canadian citizens entering the U.S. need a valid passport or approved travel document. Specific requirements depend upon age and citizenship status. Please consult this page on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s website for the most current information.

Anyone wishing to cross the Canada/U.S. border in a wilderness area, such as Quetico Provincial Park or the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness/BWCAW, will need a Remote Area Border Crossing Permit (RABC). There is a per person fee, renewable annually. The easiest way to obtain the Remote Area Border Crossing Permit application is online. Click here and follow the instructions, and be sure to allow 4-6 weeks for the application to be processed. If you prefer, an outfitter can mail you a copy of the necessary paperwork.

How to get to Cook County by air

International airports are located in Minneapolis/St. Paul and Duluth, Minnesota and Thunder Bay, Ontario.

There is also a small airport just outside of Grand Marais. For more information, please call 218-387-3024 or see the Cook County Airport website.