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Renovated overlook along Highway 61 boasts spectacular views (with video)

Wayne Smith (from left), Jean Paine and Connie Smith, all visiting from Pennsylvania, take in the view earlier this week from the new overlook at the Mount Josephine Rest Area along Minnesota Highway 61 near Grand Portage. Susie Island is among the features seen in the foreground; Isle Royale looms on the horizon, more than 15 miles away. (Andrew Krueger / / 3
The Rock of Ages Lighthouse on Lake Superior is visible in the distance on a clear day from the new overlook at the Mount Josephine Rest Area along Highway 61 near Grand Portage. The lighthouse is more than 15 miles from the overlook. (Andrew Krueger / / 3

On a clear day, you can't see forever from the newly renovated Mount Josephine Rest Area overlook near Grand Portage -- but spotting the white tower of the Rock of Ages Light gleaming in the sun more than 15 miles away is pretty close.

The pullout along Minnesota Highway 61, on a cliff overlooking Lake Superior between Grand Portage and the Canadian border, has new picnic tables, new restrooms and a new observation deck that juts out to the edge of the cliff, giving a wide panorama of Wauswaugoning Bay, Hat Point and nearby islands including Susie and Lucille. In the distance, on the horizon, looms the large mass of Isle Royale, with Rock of Ages off its southwest tip.

A grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at the wayside on Friday from 1:30-2:30 p.m., with representatives from the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Minnesota Department of Transportation, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the North Shore Scenic Drive Council.

The cost for the improvements to the rest area, made as part of MnDOT's Safety Rest Areas Program, was $645,187, according to MnDOT District One project engineer Aaron Gunderson. The facilities are ADA accessible.