Yesterday I mentioned that Tom and I rode the Gitchi Gami Trail beginning at Temperance River State Park. After we were done riding, we spent a little time hiking and exploring the river which constitutes the center of the park.
Temperance River State Park is so named because it does not have a “bar” across the mouth of it where it meets Lake Superior. At least that is the story. But the Temperance River is different in other ways from most of the rivers flowing into Lake Superior along the north shore. The Temperance River Gorge was formed by a lava flow followed by swiftly flowing water that carved potholes into the softer lava. Over time the water joined the potholes together. So, instead of a river bed flowing straight, you have a series of labyrinthine curves where the water abruptly changes direction from one pothole to the next.The water continues to act as a drill, digging these holes deeper and deeper as the years go by.
There are flat places where you can walk along the river, but most of the time you are looking down into the gorge at water swirling in deep holes. The Temperance River State Park has overlooks and rails along much of the gorge because falling into the water could be very dangerous. About a mile up the gorge, past Hidden Falls, the river widens out and people come here to wade and swim. Of course, you have to be respectful of the narrow gorge close by. There are several signs which state, “Life is short, don’t make it shorter. There are steep cliffs and strong currents in the area.”
Temperance River State Park has a 57 site campground on Lake Superior. All the sites are reservable which is a good thing because the campground is usually full in the summer.
We enjoyed our visit to Temperance River State Park and the walk along the gorge. If you are ever driving along MN 61 on the North Shore, be sure to stop and check it out.