Minnesota’s Magic

With a sophisticated GMC vehicle and a stylish Sea Ray sport boat in tow, Minnesota holds wonders galore.

Home to the northernmost point in the lower 48 states, Minnesota has its share of bitterly cold weather and rugged landscapes. Yet with even more bodies of water than its nickname suggests, the Land of 10,000 Lakes is rich in geographical and historical wonder—and long on appeal to boaters lucky enough to travel by Sea Ray and trailer by GMC Yukon Denali. Here are just a handful of the state’s many celebrated spots.

One of the largest and most popular in the Brainerd area, the Gull Lakes chain comprises 13,000 acres and includes eight lakes and two bays, connected along their northern border by a series of channels. Cragun’s Marina, a full-service, lake-level marina located on Steamboat Bay, is a great place to launch your Sea Ray adventure.

Archaeology buffs will appreciate the significance of the area, too: About half a mile down the Gull River from the lake’s outlet is Gull Lake Dam, where more than a dozen burial mounds have been discovered under the site, all thought to have originated from the Woodland American Indian tribes and dating back to at least A.D. 200. The burial mounds have earned the location a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.

Less than two hours on I-94 W to US-169 N from Minneapolis is Minnesota’s second-largest inland lake, Mille Lacs. This beautiful body of water was once host to large steamboats, timber and hauling supplies before slowly giving way to more 21st-century pursuits, including top-shelf recreational boating. Drop your Sea Ray at any one of the many marinas, resorts or public boat launches, then cruise in search of a quiet cove to call your own. Overhead, soaring eagles, osprey and gulls keep boaters company, and below the surface smallmouth bass, northern pike and muskie tempt anglers.

Don’t hesitate to pack your tubes or wakeboards; Mille Lacs welcomes those with a need for speed. (It also hosts regular sailing regattas and sailboard competitions.) Off-water, venues ranging from the sparkling Grand Casino to the educational Historical Society Museum offer something for every taste. Yet nature remains the biggest draw, as the many smaller surrounding lakes contribute to the sense that there truly must be at least 10,000 of them nearby.

Just 20 miles west of Minneapolis-St. Paul, Lake Minnetonka provides a smooth transition from city life to wilderness. A sweet Midwestern cottage culture marries nicely with holdovers from the Victorian era, when the lake first became home to grand, genteel hotels and inland steamboats. Sea Ray boaters will find more than 10 public launch ramps and several full-service marinas to choose from, and watersports fans will appreciate that the lake’s maximum 113-foot depth means warmer temps than in the neighboring Great Lakes.

Take time to explore Minnetonka’s extensive shoreline, with its dozens of bays and winding channels. Keep your eyes peeled for Lou, the elusive giant sturgeon with the Loch Ness-like reputation. (Sightings have been reported since the 1980s.) A word of caution: Minnetonka is one of the region’s most popular lakes, so consider visiting midweek. For any service or sales needs, MarineMax has locations in Rogers and Bayport, each just a hop, skip and a jump away.

To really get away from it all, chart a course for the north and don’t stop until you reach Lake of the Woods, on the Minnesota-Canada border. The “Walleye Capital of the World” delivers stunning views to accompany the serious fish population, so even if you’ve never touched a rod and reel, there’s plenty to occupy your attention.

The adjoining Rainy River offers several boat landings with full access, as do a variety of resorts on the south end of the lake. In the warmer months, favored outdoor activities include hiking, birding, wildflower viewing, and harvesting the abundance of chokecherries, blueberries, strawberries and morel mushrooms that grow here. Consider it insurance against running out of snacks.

To find the perfect vehicle for your next trailering adventure, visit gmc.com.

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