Five Fantastic Features on National Geographic’s New Travel Guide to the Heart of the Continent

250x250The Heart of the Continent is the region on the United States-Canada border that features 5 million acres of public lands, and countless places to explore nature, history, culture, and more. It includes the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Quetico Provincial Park, Voyageurs National Park, Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, and many other destinations.

This week, in partnership with National Geographic, a new online travel guide to the region is being unveiled. The Travel the Heart website is chock-full of recommendations by local folks about places both popular and obscure. They range from museums to parks, festivals to outdoor adventure opportunities.

The website launch is being celebrated with a media tour today and tomorrow, starting in Duluth, Minnesota and ending at Fort William Historical Park in Ontario.

“The Heart of the Continent Geotourism MapGuide and website showcase what makes the region so culturally and geographically significant,” said James Dion, Director of Tourism Programs, Maps Division for National Geographic Society. “More than ever, this project underscores the importance of connecting the local trans-border communities, smartly sharing the region’s tremendous scenic, historic and cultural assets, and helping them thrive together for future generations.”

To celebrate the launch of this major initiative, here are just a few of the fun, fascinating destinations featured on the new website that worth a trip:

1. Chik-Wauk Museum, Gunflint Trail

This former fishing resort, built in the 1930s, is now operated by the Gunflint Trail Historical Society and the U.S. Forest Service:

“Interpretive and interactive displays present the area’s cultural and natural history from its prehistoric beginnings to the development of today’s unique, rural community. Pet a beaver or see if you’re as strong as a Voyageur. View evidence of the Sudbury meteorite which crashed to Earth 1.6 billion years ago. Learn to identify area wildflowers, trees, shrubs, birds, fish and mammals. A collection of pictures, videos and other historic material allows you to immerse yourself in the lives of Gunflint Trail pioneers. Young visitors can embark on a Chik-Wauk Museum scavenger hunt.” Learn more.

2. Rainy River First Nations Pow Wow

Community celebration and traditional dance competition makes for family fun, this year’s event is June 20-22:

“Each year in June the Rainy River First Nations host a pow wow.  Pow wow is a traditional cultural practice which features traditional drum songs and dancing held in an arbour, which is the traditional structure built to hold these events.” Learn more.

3. Grand Marais Art Colony

A creative space offering classes, studios, and exhibitions, the art colony was one of the first institutions to recognize Grand Marais’s potential as an arts destination:

“The Art Colony began in 1947 as an outpost for student artists when professor and avid fly-fisherman, Birney Quick (professor at Minneapolis School of Art, now MCAD) led an 8-week painting intensive to the small fishing village of Grand Marais.  Twenty students joined Quick that first summer to explore and paint the rugged coast and inland expanse of waterways, forests, and wilderness.  Hosting weekly fish fries, Birney and his students quickly became acquainted with the surrounding community and etched out a niche for what would become the Grand Marais Art Colony.” Learn more.

4. Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park

Enjoy close-up views of the highest waterfall in northern Ontario, as well as an opportunity to learn about hydro-power:

“Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park is a popular destination for camping, hiking and swimming. There are 169 campsites, 90 with electrical hookup. The boardwalks and Mountain Portage trails are very popular and busy. The Mountain Portage Trail is a 1 km accessible trail with views of the falls and gorge.The Little Falls trail takes you to a waterfall hidden from most park visitors. In the winter enjoy 15 kilometres of groomed (skate and classic) cross country ski trails. The Little Falls Trail is perfect for snow shoeing but you must break your own trail.” Learn more.

5. Nelimark Homestead Museum

Celebrate Finnish history and heritage, and even the traditional coffee conversation, at this collection of log buildings, including two saunas:

“The house is set up with exhibit rooms, and a gift shop, but the most unique place is the Neli Coffee Room, where guests come and sit at the table,  and drink coffee and eat fresh baked goods, while they reminisce about days gone by, and even once a week meet for “Finn Talk”, refreshing their speaking in the Finnish language.” Learn more.

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