Things to do at Temperance River State Park along MN North Shore
Temperance River is one of those magical places along MN’s North Shore that never seems to get the fanfare that it deserves. Driving along Minnesota’s North Shore, the big names always stand out, like Split Rock Light House, and Gooseberry Falls.
Near Grand Marais, you always see cars lining the highway trying to catch a glimpse at Cascade Falls. But Temperance River State Park is where you really should be looking.
There are so many things to do at Temperance River State Park its, hard to stop exploring.
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Things to do at Temperance River State Park
Temperance River State Park campground is positioned on a narrow strip of land between Highway 61 and Lake Superior. While it may appear condensed on the map, the campsites all have a bunch of privacy. If you can reserve early enough, you can also nab a handful of sites that sit alongside Lake Superior.
There are four different areas to camp. First is the Upper campground. This is where you find most of the glampers in the electric sites. There is also a set of cart-in campsites.
For those unfamiliar with this style, it’s a cross between Car Camping and Backpacking. The sites are a little way away from your car, and the park provides carts to transport your gear.
The upper Campground is also where you’ll find the Ranger’s Station flush toilets and showers.
The other part of the campground is on the other side of the river, named Lower Campground. The lower campground is a little smaller and doesn’t have electric sites.
There is also another set of cart-in sites on that side of the camp. For those looking to visit both sides, the camps are connected by a footbridge over the gorge.
The Park also has backpacking sites, along the Cross River.
Temperance River State Park has no dump station. If you have a camper you can fill up at any of the water spickets on the campground roads. To dump, drive to neighboring State Parks, Tetteguche, Cascade Falls, or even down to Gooseberry on your way back to the cities.
See Related: Minnesota’s North Shore Scenic Drive | Over 28 Different Stops Along Hwy 61
Watch Sunrise on Lake Superior
When staying at a state park, my favorite activity is to hit the trails at dusk and dawn. If you are an early riser, you must check out the sunrise on Lake Superior. There are a few trails that lead down to the Lake. At the Upper Campground, a short trail leads behind the campsites, and into a cove. This cove is rocky and has outcropping perfect for exploring the rocky shoreline.
You can also take the footbridge over to the Lower Campground. There you’ll be able to see the mouth of the Temperance River and continue to the shoreline overlooks.
Take a Sunset Hike on the Hiking Club Trails
Miles: 1.9 miles
Difficulty: Easy-Moderate (due to hills)
Total Miles Hiked: 109.8 mile
With my mission to complete the Minnesota State Parks Hiking Club Trails, I knew this trial was going to be special, just based on the preview of the Temperance River Gorge from the night before.
With a full day of activities planned earlier, we wanted to get this hike in before the sun went down. Hiking on the Summer Solstice has its perks, more daylight to hike in.
If you are staying at the camp, you can access the trail from the main campground. There is limited parking in the campground, so everyone visiting should park on the highway parking lot. Start off by taking the trail on the northwest corner.
You’ll get to the river almost immediately. Then follow it along the way up. The first point of interest is on top of the slate stairs. You are standing on the bedrock of an old waterfall.
About 75 feet behind the sign, there are white spots all over the Rock. It’s not from bird poop. They are all crustaceans, fossilized and embedded in the old bedrock. They cover the entire space by the trail.
Every time you see a pathway that moves next to the river, take it. They are all amazing. Whenever you see a stone wall, make sure to peek down.
You’ll have the opportunity to look down into the waterfalls themselves and the deep potholes the river created.
After what seems like more waterfalls than you can count, the river starts to calm down. The trail starts to level out, with some roots and rocks. From there you turn into the forest, and up some stairs. Finally, you’ll loop back to the falls area. The Temperance River Hiking Club Trail was amazing.
Download a free Temperance River State Park Map from Avenza before you leave. They have GeoPDF maps to ensure you never get lost.
Hike or Climb Carlton Peak
Carlton Peak is a great hike to do that gives stunning views of the park and the lake. There are a few different ways to get to the summit.
First is from the state park, following the Superior Hiking Trail three miles to the top. You can also park at Britton Peak Trailhead and hike two miles to the summit. The summit is a massive rock-shaped dome. The highest point is 1,526 feet high.
Rock Climbers like to use this formation to the summit. Climbs are 60-80 feet. There are 27 different runs.
Use it as a base camp
Temperance River is positioned relatively centrally along the North Shore. This makes it a great place to base camp for those looking to do a little more.
We spent one day driving to Two Harbors and stopping at every place in between, including the North Shore Adventure Park. Then the next day, we drove up to Grand Marais and hit up everything in between working our way back to camp.
Fishing at Temperance River State Park
The Temperance and Cross rivers are both designated trout streams, so try your luck.
Brook, brown, and rainbow trout have all been stocked in the Temperance River at some point, and both the brook and brown trout have now established natural populations.
Chinook salmon and steelhead have also been introduced in the vicinity of the Temperance River, so keep your eyes peeled for those too.
Questions people often ask about Temperance River State Park
Are dogs allowed?
Temperance River State Park, like all MN State Parks, allows dogs on trails and campgrounds. They are not allowed in buildings and must be kept on a 6ft leash at all times. Do not leave them unattended in campers.
When is the state park open?
The park is open daily from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m.
Does Temperance River State Park have Showers?
Yes, and from personal experience, they are some of the best showers in the state park system! Modern amenities inside a private locking room.
Does Temperance River State Park have Wifi?
The park does not have any official wifi, though I was able to connect to the internet at the park. From my personal experience, most of the North Shore has an internet connection along highway 61. Once you get another of Grand Marais, it’s harder to connect.
How much does it cost?
All Minnesota State Parks are free with an annual permit. You can buy them in person or online for $35. If you are planning to visit for the day, expect to pay around $7. Throughout the year, there are a few free days and other discounts you can check out too.
Camping costs anywhere from $25-35 a night.
Pro Tip: Visit any State Park during one of their free days. Check out Minnesota State Park Pass Hacks, Tips, and Free Days to find all the days
Would I go back for more things to do at Temperance River State Park?
Yes, what I love is this Minnesota State Park is a good midway point up the North Shore. I think next time I will strategize a bit more when it comes to securing a lake-side campsite. The place has so much more hiking that you can do. It is truly a magical place that you have to experience for yourself.