Split Rock Lighthouse on Lake Superior

Discover Split Rock Lighthouse on Lake Superior, Minnesota

Split Rock Lighthouse is one of Lake Superior’s most picturesque lighthouses and one of the most popular historic sites in Minnesota. Sitting atop a 130-foot sheer cliff at the edge of the water, she invites you to experience the stories of her heritage. The Minnesota Historical Society operates this site which includes the Lighthouse, Light Keeper’s House, Oil House, and Fog Signal Building. There is also a museum, visitor center, and museum shop. 

Split Rock Lighthouse, Lake Superior

Split Rock Lighthouse standing tall over Lake Superior

 

Experience Split Rock Lighthouse

During the main season (May-October), explore the historic site on your own with a self-guided experience. Friendly guides are stationed throughout the site to answer questions and share Split Rock’s unique history. Enjoy the introductory movie, explore the exhibit gallery, and walk in the footsteps of the original lighthouse keepers while visiting the restored Keeper’s Home, Fog Signal Building, Oil House, and of course, the Lighthouse itself.

Looking for a truly unique experience? Try a Keeper’s Tour! This 60-minute guided tour leaves before the site opens and you get to see the grounds through the eyes of the keepers and their families.

Don’t have a lot of time, but still want to visit? Take advantage of the Grounds Pass option, which gets you access to the historic site and that iconic Split Rock view.

In the off-season (November-December, and March-April),  purchase a Grounds Pass and check out the Visitor Center, Museum Store, Museum, and the historic grounds. Read about exploring Split Rock Lighthouse during the winter months: Split Rock Lighthouse: a Sweet Winter Treat.

My favorite thing is walking around the lighthouse itself. The view from the Observation Deck atop the 130-foot cliff is amazing! And there is a trail that leads to the cliff with informational panels sharing interesting stories along the way.

For more information about hours, admission, and events visit: mnhs.org/splitrock

Split Rock Lighthouse Museum

The Visitor Center, Museum, and Museum Store are open year-round. The Museum has some interesting, interactive displays.  Did you know they hoisted all of the building materials from the water, up the cliff, to build the Lighthouse (no roads yet!)? See a replica of the hoist engine! And you’ll love the Lego model of the lighthouse, built with 20,000 Legos for the centennial in 2010. 

The Museum Store has lots of great North Shore apparel, local art and merchandise, books, local guides, and souvenirs.

Replica Hoist

Replica of hoist that brought building materials up the side of the cliff.

 

The Birth of Splitrock Lighthouse

The early 20th Century’s iron ore boom sparked the need for a lighthouse. The demand for iron ore shipments from Minnesota’s mines brought hundreds of freighters across Lake Superior. Tragically, 29 ships perished in the famous storm of 1905. Soon after, Congress appropriated $75,000 to build Split Rock Lighthouse. It was commissioned in 1910.

The Lake Superior International Highway opened in 1924 (now known as Highway 61, the North Shore Scenic Drive). Consequently, the North Shore was open to more travelers, and the lure of the lighthouse made Split Rock one of the most popular destinations in Minnesota.

The lighthouse was decommissioned in 1969 as a result of new navigational technology.

Edmund Fitzgerald Memorial Beacon Lighting

Once a year on November 10th, Split Rock’s beacon is lit in remembrance of the lost ship SS Edmund Fitzgerald. At the toll of the bell, the names of all 29 lost crew members are announced, and the Naval Hymn is played. The beacon is lit at the end of the ceremony, and you can tour the lantern room. This is the only time that you can see the interior of the light tower while the beacon is lit. The event attracts nearly 900 people each year. Edmond Fitzgerald Beacon Lighting 

 

Edmund Fitzgerald Memorial Beacon Lighting at Split Rock Lighthouse.

Edmund Fitzgerald Memorial Beacon Lighting at Split Rock Lighthouse.

Split Rock Lighthouse Hours

January 1 – 23, 2022

The Minnesota Historical Society Split Rock Lighthouse Visitor’s Center, Museum Store, and outdoor grounds are open Thursday through Monday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (closed Tuesday and Wednesday). The lighthouse and historic building interiors are closed in the winter. Admission is free. 

January 29 – February 28, 2022

The Minnesota Historical Society Split Rock Lighthouse Visitor’s Center, Museum Store, and outdoor grounds are open Thursday through Monday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (closed Tuesday and Wednesday). The lighthouse and historic building interiors are closed in the winter. Admission is free. 

March 1 – April 24, 2022

Split Rock Lighthouse is open daily from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. The visitor center, fog signal building, and historic grounds are open to visitors with a grounds pass. Access to the lighthouse and keeper’s house are only available on the Keeper’s Tour.

April 30 – October 24, 2022

Split Rock Lighthouse is open daily during peak season. 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Tickets for the Grounds Pass, General Admission, and the Keepers Tour are available.

October 25 – December 18, 2022

Split Rock Lighthouse is open daily from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Tickets for the Grounds Pass, and the Keepers Tour are available.

See Split Rock Lighthouse’s full schedule 

How to Get There 

Split Rock Lighthouse is located at mile marker 46 along  Highway 61. It is between Castle Danger and Beaver Bay.

You May Also Like

Guide to North Shore Rivers & Waterfalls

Roadside Art With a Message, Northeast of Grand Marais, MN

Things To Do In Silver Bay, MN

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.