According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, moose are the largest animal in Minnesota and average about 1,000 pounds. They are members of the deer family, but to many people, they’re a lot more impressive.
“[Moose] are pretty incredible creatures,” says Kjersti Vick, marketing manager of Visit Cook County. She also says that some people are “moose- magnets.”
Visitors to Lutsen often ask “How can I see a moose?” It’s one of the most asked questions at the information center of Visit Cook County.
Seeing a moose might involve a bit of luck but it’s also knowing where to look and how to slow down. Hiking and canoeing give you better odds.
“Anyone has an equal chance to see moose if they are quiet,” Kjersti says.
Driving at dawn or dusk and looking in a swampy or shaded area are your best bets for spotting a moose. If you do see a moose remember to keep your distance.
“No taking selfies with a moose,” Kjersti jokes. She advises moose spotters to keep their distance. Especially between a mama moose and a baby.
“They are very skittish and will charge if they feel threatened,” Kjersti says.
Kjersti, who grew up near Lutsen says as a child she was taught a healthy respect for wildlife and nature. Because they are so large, that healthy respect is important.
Once while waiting for the school bus as a child Kjersti saw a mama moose and baby across the road. She walked back into her house and missed the bus.
“I think they are pretty incredible creatures and remarkably graceful,” Kjersti says. If you follow her tips you may discover that for yourself.
If you want to take your moose hunt a little more seriously, be prepared to venture north. The Visit Cook County website lists three routes along the Gunflint Trail National Scenic Byway that can be driven by car: Greenwood Loop — a two-hour drive, the Lima Grade Road — a one hour drive or the Eagle Mountain Route — a one and one-half hour drive.
“Many people see them when just driving along the Gunflint Trail near low places and creeks,” said Susan McGowan-Stinski. She is an administrative support assistant with the U.S.D.A. Forest Service at the Gunflint Trail Ranger District in Grand Marais. “They are very beautiful and interesting animals.” She also urges moose-seekers to drive slowly and take hikes.
If you’ve got a day to kill looking for wildlife, there is a moose-viewing platform 24 miles north of Grand Marais. But just because it’s named a “moose-viewing” platform doesn’t mean the moose will cooperate.
“You’re not guaranteed to see a moose,” McGowan-Stinski said.
In her lifetime she said she’s seen a moose maybe ten times. And in the past two years, she has seen a moose along the Gunflint Trail three or four times. But by getting out and hoofing it you are guaranteed to be among wildlife and nature. Remember to respect nature, be considerate of other visitors and leave no trace behind.
The moose viewing trail and platform are located north of Grand Marais off the Gunflint Trail (County 12).
- From MN 61, turn north on County Road 12 (Gunflint Trail) in the center of Grand Marais.
- Follow Cty 12 about 24 miles north.
- Parking is located on the left side of the road just opposite FR 316.
- There is parking for approximately 15 cars.
- Hike down the snowmobile trail northwest for 1/4 mile to a narrow path that leads off to the right to the viewing platform. Note that you will pass a closed road on the way.
A moose viewing map and additional information are available on the US Forest Service website.