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Solbakken Resort review

I awoke Easter Sunday to the waves crashing as though we were camping along the coast somewhere. The day before, the lake had been as still as a blue ice rink, so smooth I sometimes could not distinguish where the water met the sky. This, of all places I’ve traveled, is where I am the most content.

I visited various spots on the north shore of Lake Superior 12 or 13 times as a kid. My family and I always brought our golden retriever along. Some years, when one dog’s life overlapped another, we brought two pets.

Last weekend was the second trip to Solbakken Resort my boyfriend Josh, my mutt Ace and I have made. I would certainly travel with just one of them, but having both along made the trip even better.

It’s an eight-hour drive from Fargo, N.D., to Lutsen, Minn. Not worth it, some would say. Eight hours could get us as far southwest as the Black Hills of South Dakota or as far south as Lincoln, Neb. But we chose to go east and then north. I said east first because we literally went as far east as we could and then north another 94 miles to our little resort.


To get to Solbakken Resort from Duluth, Minn., go north on Highway 61 for about 94 miles. The resort is just north of Lutsen, on the right side of the road.

Some travelers probably never go further north than Duluth, and that is OK. Just seeing the greatest of lakes is enough for most. But further north you can walk along the Superior Hiking Trail, a 205-mile path that stretches from Two Harbors, Minn., to Canada. You also find the Boundary Waters Canoe Area which covers more than 1 million acres, a place where tourists take canoes into unaltered wilderness.

Dozens, maybe even 100 resorts line the Minnesota shoreline of Lake Superior. I’ve stayed at my fair share of them – Bluefin Bay, Thomsonite Beach Inn & Suites, Solbakken Resort and others.

Bluefin Bay is a great resort. It’s buildings are open and clean, and some of its rooms allow dogs. The problem for me is the limited privacy, and everywhere you step you avoid a pile a dog crap. Thomsonite Beach was a resort I loved as a kid. But since then – probably for good reasons – it’s changed its pet policy. Staying there is now out of the question for me.


Solbakken Resort is the absolute best dog-friendly resort on Lake Superior. It’s one of the only dog friendly places remaining.

See the top banner photo that’s been on my blog for more than a year? That’s my mutt exploring the shoreline at Solbakken Resort in October 2007. He was 19 months old then. I didn’t have a dog blog yet.

A year and a half later, Josh, Ace and I finally returned. Why it took us so long to get out there again, I don’t know. Life, I suppose, kept getting in the way.

Although I’ve read how some people consider Solbakken too rustic – there are no couches, no TVs and no DVD players – it’s all a matter of perspective. After a day of cross country skiing, hiking or mountain biking, I can’t think of anything better than retreating to a cozy cabin with a fire, heat, a fridge, microwave, a shower, dishwasher and a bed.

Benefits to Solbakken Resort:

  • Private, cozy cabins
  • Hearing the waves from your cabin
  • Reasonable rates ($50 to $230 per night)
  • Lower rates during value season and midweek
  • Wood burning fireplaces
  • All necessary kitchen supplies and linens provided
  • Wireless Internet access in the lobby
  • Dogs welcome ($10 per night)
  • The best view
  • Patios
  • Cross country skis and snowshoes available
  • Hot tub and sauna
  • Public journals for guests to write in
  • No TVs

Admittedly, Solbakken is perfect for my style, but so this review isn’t sickeningly positive …

Here’s what I’d like to see added:

  • A station or two providing dog pick-up bags
  • A large sign on Highway 61 so people can find the resort easier


Guest journals in the cabins tell tales of honeymoons, getaways and ski trips. Much of the same rings out from page to page in the journals dating back to 1990 or so:

“Who needs TV when you got your own big screen right out the door?”

“My friends went south for spring break, but I went north.”

“We drank a lot of wine.”

“We’ve been loaded this whole trip. Even now.”

“The brandy was flowing.”

And there are many stories of visitors grateful for the chance to bring their dogs. The people who bring their pets – at least in my experience – have quiet, well-behaved dogs that don’t necessarily need to be leashed, although the resort requires it. The owners pick up after their dogs, too. I have not see one turd on the property.

My mutt was actually not the best behaved of all the dogs we saw. He let out a few of his drawn-out, low howls when he saw a passing rottweiler pup and later a husky.

Activities for most at Solbakken likely include sitting around an indoor or outdoor fire, reading, talking, writing, drinking, playing boardgames or cards, grilling, hiking, cross country skiing, taking photos, swimming, biking and just sitting and relaxing on the deck – something we did for hours.

As Josh said of Solbakken, “It is what it is. It’s an escape from our digital world. That’s what we use it for.”

He’s right. Whatever it is about Solbakken, something keeps drawing us back.

For more information about Solbakken Resort or to make a reservation, visit, email or call 1.800.435.3950. Solbakken Resort is located at 4874 W. Highway 61 in Lutsen, MN 55612. All of the photos below were taken on Solbakken’s property.

This was a paid review.

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