If you've driven on the North Shore this summer, you surely experienced the traffic back ups for construction in the Split Rock area. MnDOT completed a two-year-long project straightening out Highway 61 just west of the Lighthouse. The new highway is gorgeous, wide and fast.
The new highway alignment runs about 200 yards away from one of the North Shore's most distinct wayside rests, a classic pull-off with a great view of Split Rock Lighthouse and the open waters of Lake Superior. For the traveler dedicated to enjoying Lake Superior, this is a great change.
Follow the spanking new blue "Wayside Rest" signs off of Highway 61, and you'll loop away from the new highway and back over to the old highway.
Not only is the old wayside rest still there, it has been substantially improved. I love the variety of rocks found in the pillars...North Shore gabbro and diabase, granite from somewhere, even a southern Minnesota limestone.
Now, instead of having highway traffic speed by just feet away from you as you try to take in the view, scenic viewers have the overlook all to themselves. A foot trail leads away from the overlook toward the lighthouse; next time I'll find out where that goes,
MnDOT may iron the curves out of Highway 61 until it's an arrow-straight line from Duluth to Grand Portage, but as long as they leave these quiet and scenic waysides, I'm okay with it.