Earlier this month Joe and Joyce Brown of Sioux Falls were looking for a change of scenery and a break in their routine.
“Our son and I usually go to the Boundary Waters the first or second week of September but I didn’t have the time to do that this year,” Joe said. “Instead, we decided to go someplace we had never been.”
Joyce and Joe began their research with open minds but both agreed that their weekend destination had to feature woods and water. And the more they studied the Bemidji area the more they realized that they had found their getaway spot.
“The Black Hills are nice but that would have been a ‘been there and done that’ trip,” Joe said. “We thought about LaCrosse but we really wanted to experience the North Woods and Bemidji seemed to be the perfect place.”
“And it turned out that Bemidji was the perfect choice,” Joyce added. Within a 25-mile radius of Bemidji you can find more than 400 lakes. The star of the show is Lake Bemidji, a 6,600-acre gem that welcomes all visitors and serves as the backdrop to a vibrant city and community. With trophy walleye, northern pike, muskies and perch, a launch onto Lake Bemidji is a must for everyone who enjoys catching fish. But if fishing isn’t on one’s agenda, a bicycle, vehicle or boat ride on or around the lake will also offer vistas of northern Minnesota at its best.
“After a rain on our first night in Bemidji we stopped at the (Northwoods) access and saw some gorgeous rainbows,” Joyce said. “And the next night we were able to watch as a full moon rose over the water. We can see rainbows and the moon in Sioux Falls but we can’t see them over such a beautiful setting.”
A ride along the back roads surrounding Bemidji will take you away from the lights of the city and into a pristine world that is dominated by wildlife, woods and water.
“During our trip we took some small roads in the countryside and ended up in Cass Lake,” Joyce said. “We often pulled off the roads to look at several of the small lakes along the way. I don’t know what their names were but they were beautiful.”
“And driving through the back roads is like driving through a tunnel,” Joe added. “The trees are so close to you on both sides of the road that we were able to experience something altogether different than we can find at home. And during our trip, the woods were beginning to show just a bit of color and those reds and yellows were impressive.”
So was the Headwaters of the Mississippi River at Lake Itasca State Park. Established in 1891 to preserve remnant stands of virgin pine, Itasca is Minnesota’s oldest state park and the second oldest in the United States, behind only Niagra Falls.
Totaling more than 32,000 acres and with more than 100 lakes, it is here the Mighty Mississippi begins its 2,552-mile journey through the country’s heartland and eventually to the Gulf of Mexico.
“We have crossed the Mississippi River many times when we were in Illinois, Iowa and the Twin Cities but it was amazing to see and walk across the river at its infancy, especially when you know what a big river it later becomes,” Joyce said.
Itasca State Park also features towering pine trees at Preacher’s Grove, the Itasca Indian Cemetery, Wegmann’s Cabin plus camping under the stars or at the historic Douglas Lodge