Whether you’re a resident or not, Minnesota is a great place to fly thanks to its beautiful natural scenery, sprawling urban centers and many quaint towns. And with the upcoming holiday, what better way to spend time off work than by traveling to one of the many great destinations the state has to offer?
If you’re looking for a great way to spend Labor Day Weekend, set your coordinates on any of the following and experience the scenic glory of Minnesota.
Superior National Forest: Experience the Power of Nature
With almost four-million acres of public natural land, including Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA), Superior National Forest is one of Minnesota’s (and the country’s) most treasured parks. Not only is it beautiful, the BWCA is a seaplane pilot’s dream, with many lakes open to seaplanes for fly-in camp trips.
Things To Do in Superior National Forest
- Explore the BWCA: With over a million acres of protected land, visitors can explore untouched wilderness, camp on their own private island and fish to their heart’s intent. Take a look at the official Boundary Waters website for a full scope of visiting the wilderness area by plane.
- See it on horseback: Horseback riding is allowed on roads within the Superior National Forest and a number of companies offer tours. Like the famous Gunflint Lodge, which lets riders experience an area of the North Shore atop a noble steed.
- Go for a climb: Since there are no “official” climbing spots in the forest, climbers can feel free to conquer whatever they wish. Thanks to thousands of years of volcanic erosion caused by glaciers, the exposed bedrock provides a landscape of intimidating cliff sides and imposing boulders.
Airports Near Superior National Forest
There are several airports in or around Superior National Forest. The following are some of the most popular for general aviation airplanes traveling to and from the region:
- Grand Marais – Cook County Airport (KCKC)
- Thunder Bay Airport (CYQT)
- Ely Municipal Airport (ELO)
- Tower Municipal Airport & Seaplane Base (12D)
Duluth: A Town on the Tip of Superior
This port city on the southwest tip of Lake Superior has a rich history, gorgeous architecture, beautiful natural scenery and a thriving downtown area home to many significant cultural sites. Flying through this area will give you the sight of an urban, water-side metropolis against the grandiosity of Lake Superior, St. Louis River and the expansive forests of the North Shore.
Things To Do in Duluth
- Take in the view atop Spirit Mountain: From the air, you’ll notice that Duluth sits at the bottom of a giant valley. If you just can’t get enough of the view from above, Spirit Mountain (a ski hill in the winter and recreation area in the summer) is a great place to take a scenic chair ride, and afterward, mountain bike down the 1,300-foot hill.
- Stroll through Canal Park: If you’re looking for a shoreline view instead, Canal Park is the ideal spot to see Lake Superior and the St. Louis River at ground level. Follow Lakewalk Trail as it passes through the park, offering views of the 1905 Aerial Lift Bridge and Park Point Sandbar. The area is home to many historical buildings, restaurants, breweries as well as shops, museums and art galleries.
- Fly Along historical Highway 61: This route on land is considered an All-American Scenic Byway, and it’s even more spectacular from the cockpit. Take off from one of the Airports listed below and head north up Lake Superior’s western shoreline. The drive itself only lasts 150-miles to Two Harbors, but you’re not restricted by roads as a pilot. Some of the airports listed in the prior section are along the route and can be used for pit stops, stretching all the way up to Ontario.
Searching for more great places to fly in Minnesota? Read our post: 8 Fun Places to Fly in MN
Airports Near Duluth, MN
There are several airports in or around Duluth. The following are some of the most popular for general aviation airplanes traveling to and from the city:
- Duluth International Airport (KDLH)
- Sky Harbor Regional Airport (KDYT)
- Richard I. Bong Memorial Airport (KSUW)
Winona: Fly the Grand Valley of the Mighty Mississippi
If you’ve never seen the largest river in North America from the cockpit, Labor Day Weekend may be the perfect time to cross that adventure off your bucket list. The Mississippi River and surrounding gorges provide some of the most stunning scenery in the Midwest and late summer/early fall offers fantastic colors to view. And the town of Winona provides great access to the river and surrounding state forest.
Things To Do in Winona
- Take in the view of the Mississippi: There are trails leading from town up the valley, and to Garvin Heights City Park. Here, you can see the entirety of the river and towns with a stop at the overlook perch. Or, continue on and carve your own path along the massive riverside bluffs.
- Explore Black River State Park: There’s a lot to explore in this 68,000-acre parcel of pine- and oak-covered forest. From backpacking endless miles of trails, biking through rugged terrain or climbing a bluff to look out over thousands of square miles of scenery, you’re sure to connect with nature here.
- Fly north to Red Wing: While scenic lookouts may be great, as a pilot you’re probably thinking, “the higher the better.” The best view of the Mississippi is from the plane. Start at Winona Airport and fly north along the river — as you fly through and over the valley, take in the view where 10,000 years ago 1,800-miles of glacial meltwater helped carve the imposing river, valley, bluffs and reservoirs. Once you land in Red Wing, spend a few hours hopping around the historical town, famous for its namesake boots.
Airports Near Winona, MN:
There are several airports in or around Winona. The following are some of the most popular for general aviation airplanes traveling to and from the area:
- La Crosse Regional Airport (KSLE)
- Winona Municipal Airport (KONA)
- Rushford Municipal Airport (55Y)
- Red Wing Regional Airport (KRGK)
Are you interested in learning to fly? Get in touch with Inflight Pilot Training today. We can give the ability to take flight and travel to these destinations or anywhere else you wish. Get in touch with our certified flight instructors today to find out more. For additional information on our training programs, contact us today or call (952) 698-3000.