SILVER BAY—Minnesota is home to 67 state parks, including the must-see Tettegouche State Park in Silver Bay. Located just a little over an hour drive from Duluth, it is a beautiful trip along Highway 61. The majority of the route hugs the shores of Lake Superior with many rest stops to take in the views. The state of Minnesota acquired the 3,400 acres of land in 1979, which was added to the Baptism River State Park and later renamed Tettegouche, coming from the Tettegouche Club, an association which purchased the park in 1910. Since then, many additions, improvements and expansions have been made to meet the needs of visitors. Most recently, in 2014, a visitors’ center was built to better serve the community and overall programming needs.
Educational programs are offered year-round and for all ages. One of the highlights, unique to Tettegouche, is the Baptism Summer Stream Study. Participants wade in the river water with nets, encountering a variety of river life. Interpretive naturalist Kurt Mead says this program offers a Tettegouche exclusive—“Tettegouche earrings for the adventurous visitors.” Mead explains that if the timing is right, a crawfish may be found and can gently be coaxed to latch on to an earlobe.
Mead has been employed with the DNR for eight years, moving up to the North Shore in 1996. He holds a B.S. Degree in biology and a B.F.A. in art. Providing a rich schedule of programs is a large part of his responsibility at the park. The state park system has many resources for “tried and true” curriculums, yet he also utilized the seasonal interns to develop fresh topics throughout the summer. It is part of their school requirement to develop and teach presentations. Mead encourages students to find something they are passionate about and go from there.
“It is a great way for me to explore a topic I may not have had time or knowledge to make into a good program,” Mead says.
Visitors can expect fun programming this summer with one of the themes being all things squirrels.
A state park staple are the nature carts set up near the visitor center or along the trails. This is a perfect opportunity for visitors with a full agenda to interact and learn something new in a short, simple program introduction. The full events calendar and details can be found on their website: dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks.
Art exhibits are another highlight unique to Tettegouche. Mead was able to combine both of his degrees and interests when developing the juried art exhibits program. Each month, a Minnesota artist is featured on the main common area wall in the visitor center. Mead explains this space was originally designed to have permanent nature stock photos hanging. He came up with the concept of highlighting local artists on a rotating basis and turning the space into a true gallery. An artist’s reception is held the first Friday of each month from 7-8:30 p.m. to meet and welcome the new artist. August will feature Minneapolis-based painter Thomas Dimock. He is an award-winning artist whose work covers diverse themes, yet he is most passionate about en plein aire (outdoor landscape) techniques.
Staying true to the parks goal to continue providing innovative and new opportunities for visitors, a nature play area is in the works, with the goal to open next summer. The plan is to provide several areas that actively engages kids with nature and its elements. The overall design will provide opportunities for physical activity, social and imaginary play. This project is one of the many supported by the volunteer group, Friends of Tettegouche State Park. New members are always needed and welcomed. To find out more, visit: friendsoftettegouche.org, or call 651-308-6510.
In addition to the state, employees and volunteers continually updating and changing the grounds and programs, nature also takes it’s turn at providing visitors with a fresh experience. The landscape is in constant change, creating a different natural topography along the pebbled beach and river banks.
Tettegouche State Parkpark is open daily from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.