Minnesota is known for so many things, including tater tots, the Minnesota state fair, its prairies, and of course, Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes that truly captivate the locals and tourists alike. But did you know about Minnesota’s hidden gem, Black Sand Beach in Lake Superior?
Over the years, Black Sand Beach in Lake Superior, Minnesota, has closed and reopened to the public, intriguing Minnesotans, geologists, and tourists alike why the sand is particularly black compared to other Minnesotan shorelines composed of brown sand.
Whether you are looking for the perfect place to relax, embarking on a geologist’s or hiker’s adventure, or simply wanting to enjoy the views of the only black beach of its kind in Minnesota, here’s everything you need to know about Black Sand Beach that sits cozily on the Lake Superior.
The Birth of Minnesota’s Black Sand Beach
Unlike most beaches we are all used to that have long shorelines with brown or white powdery sand, Minnesota’s Black Sand Beach is only a small area that sits snugly by Lake Superior. It is lined with black rocks that are now called sand, but if you look closely, you’ll notice those are small black rocks.
Black sand beaches are common in tropical countries and areas with a ton of active volcanic activity. The black sand is usually formed by lava that flows to the ocean, rapidly cooling because of the water. After the lava cools, it is then shattered down into tiny fragments, giving birth to black, sometimes shiny, sand.
However, the Gopher State isn’t known to house active volcanoes. So, how did Black Sand Beach come to be? Though several natural phenomena might have contributed to the formation of Lake Superior’s Black Sand Beach, the dumping of taconite tailings into Lake Superior by the Reserve Mining between the years of 1955 and 1980 was what made Black Sand Beach what it is today.
The Black Sand Beach closed down for a while, allowing nature to run its course. However, the small black patch by Lake Superior retained its black color. The beach’s sloping shoreline, paired with the unique jagged rock formations and Lake Superior’s blue waters, has become a regular on every traveler’s bucket list.
What Makes Black Sand Beach So Special?
First, Minnesota’s Black Sand Beach is the only one of its kind. Not only in Minnesota but in comparison to other black sand beaches that have been naturally curated by nature, Minnesota’s Black Sand Beach is a collaboration of Reserve Mining’s taconite tailings (which are wastes) and nature’s prowess and gift of healing.
Did you know about Black Sand Beach’s secret moves? Its black sand helps soak up most of the sunlight, keeping the visitors cool even during the height of the summer. It is one of the reasons why Black Sand Beach is a great location for cozying down, sunbathing, and even swimming. Add the fact that Lake Superior’s waters continue to be cold even during summer.
Additionally, for rock hunters, geologists, and even those who just like to stroll around, it’s no secret that Lake Superior is famous for its agates. The Black Sand Beach is no exception to that. Keep your eyes peeled, and you might find an addition to your growing agate collection or something to remember Minnesota by.
When To Visit Minnesota’s Black Sand Beach
Black Sand Beach, also listed as the Onyx Beach, is located in Silver Bay, Minnesota, which sits north of the Land of 10,000 Lakes. If you know Minnesota pretty well, you know the snow can get so worked up here. But don’t you worry; even during the chilly winter months, Black Sand Beach will welcome you with open arms.
Although Black Sand Beach was closed down before due to being a private property, it has since reopened to the public in 2015. Remember that since Black Sand Beach is an outdoor location, there won’t be specific opening or closing times, and maybe none.
You can visit Black Sand Beach whenever you like, but it is in its best condition during the summer season, when locals and tourists can enjoy the sunrise and sunset, swim into the pristine waters of Lake Superior, and enjoy the calm waves and the warm breeze. However, if you’d like to only marvel at the magnificence of the unique blackened sands of the Black Sand Beach, late spring and early fall are great seasons to wander around there, too.
How to get to Black Sand Beach
As mentioned above, Black Sand Beach, or Onyx Beach, is in Silver Bay, Minnesota. Once you’re already in Silver Bay, you should be able to reach the North Shore Adventure Park. After that, for about a mile on Highway 61, turn right onto Mensing Drive, which will turn into W Lakeview. Turn right onto E Lakeview, then stay right at the “Y.”
Follow Water Plant Road, and it will take you to the only black sand beach. However, remember that Black Sand Beach has a dirt parking lot. There is a short trail from there that will lead you to the shores lined up by black rocks that are, sadly, not accessible by wheelchair.
Cool places near Black Sand Beach
Do you want to roam around after soaking in all the sun at Black Sand Beach? Worry not, because Minnesota has many places and activities for you! Five miles north of the Black Sand Beach is the Tettegouche State Park, where you can find the tallest waterfall in Minnesota.
Suppose you are looking for a short yet rewarding hike. In that case, the Palisade Head, a popular trail in Tettegouche State Park, boasts a 1-mile hike that will take you to an extraordinary viewpoint overlooking Lake Superior. Additionally, the Finland State Forest and the Superior National Forest, both a bit north of the Black Sand Beach, have numerous hiking trails, including the Leveaux Mountain Trail.
If you want to immerse yourself in historic places near Black Sand Beach, the Split Rock Lighthouse State Park is the nearest, only 10 miles south of Onyx Beach. Known for its historic 1920s-era lighthouse, there are tours,
Places to Stay near Black Sand Beach
If you are in for the long or slightly long haul by the Black Sand Beach, there are plenty of beautiful hotels, cabins, resorts, and more along Lake Superior. You can always book beforehand or choose to walk in if you feel a little more adventurous.
But if you want to go all in and spend your precious time in Black Sand Beach, the Black Beach Municipal Campground, located right next to the beach, offers almost 50 sites for campers to book.
Now that you’ve learned a ton about the only black sand beach sitting on Minnesotan ground, it’s time to pack your bags, hit the road, and finally have an extraordinary and unforgettable experience that only the Black Sand Beach on Lake Superior can provide.
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