Life gets pretty wild in Cook County, Minnesota. Home to many wild boreal creatures, Cook County is best known as the place in the Midwest to spot a moose. With the Superior National Forest and million-acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) as our backyard, it’s no wonder life here can get pretty wild.
Keep your eyes peeled while you drive on one of our scenic byways–you may see a cow moose with her calf, a bear lunching on blueberries, and hear a loon’s cry announce the end of day. Visit often and during different seasons to experience the full range of wildlife. Other favorite Minnesota mammals you might see include timberwolf, fox, pine marten, lynx, black bear, beaver and otter. In the evenings while you roast marshmallows around a campfire, you might hear an owl’s hoots or the haunting warble of a loon.
Cook County boasts some of the best birding in the Midwest. The American Birding Conservancy named Superior National Forest as one of 100 Globally Important Birding Areas. With 155 nesting species, it has one of the greatest number of breeding birds of any national forest. What can be more thrilling than banding a wild bird? You can learn about it and then do it at Sugarloaf Cove Nature Center in Schroeder. Check their website for program dates.
To maximize your enjoyment of our unique plants and wildlife, we suggest bringing a camera, binoculars, and a good guidebook.
Kids and nature buffs will get a kick out of ticking off tree species (mountain ash, white spruce, black spruce, and sugar maple, among others), identifying northern wildflowers and fungi, and jotting down the details of animal encounters. Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center on the Gunflint Trail offers special Kids Days in the Summer, check their website for more details.
As you drive Highway 61 you may notice the many rock cliffs and boulders. Our region came to exist by ancient lava flows creating many different rock types. Sugarloaf Cove Nature Center has extensive programs on the Geology of the North Shore.
Cook County boasts several Nature Centers in diverse areas of the county: as you enter the county in Schroeder visit Sugarloaf Nature Center, as you near the Canadian boarder in Grand Portage visit Grand Portage Heritage Center and up the Gunflint Trail visit Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center.