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Boreal Community Media

Cook County is now home to the first floating public sauna in the United States

Sep 25, 2023 11:30AM ● By Content Editor
All photos by Laura Durenberger-Grunow

By Laura Durenberger-Grunow - Boreal Community Media - September 25, 2023

First, it was the Grand Marais saunas along Lake Superior in October of 2021, then the mobile, wood-fired sauna in May of 2023, and now, Cook County's own Sisu and Loyly Nordic Sauna has done it again. 

 Cook County's own Sisu and Loyly Nordic Sauna is home to the first public floating sauna in the United States

Last week, Katie Usem, owner of Sisu and Loyly Nordic Sauna, officially launched the first floating sauna that's open to the public in the US, on Devil's Track Lake at the popular Skyport Lodge

"I've been thinking about a floating sauna since the beginning, but the timing just wasn't right," Usem told Boreal Community Media. 

Until now. 

The floating sauna provides a unique opportunity for sauna-lovers, all with gorgeous views!

Floating saunas are incredibly popular in rural and urban areas in Nordic countries, and while there are some public floating saunas in the works throughout the US, the timing came together just right for Sisu and Loyly to be the first and make history.

The floating sauna was built by wooden boat maker Timber Arched, a Minnesota-based company that also built Sisu and Loyly's mobile sauna, and resembles an upside-down hull.

Inside, sauna-goers (up to six guests) can experience a crackling wood-fired heat source combined with over 500lbs of stone with a Huum stove, and beautiful views of Devil's Track Lake.

 Inside the floating sauna is a wood-fired Huum-brand stove, which is incredibly efficient at heating the space

And speaking of the lake, unlike the Grand Marais "flagship" location, as Usem referred to it, visitors can and are encouraged to jump right into Devil's Track Lake for the traditional "cool down" cycle. "The Lake Superior location prevents users from jumping into the lake directly from our property due to safety concerns," she added. 

The Skyport Lodge location also has another noticeable difference, which is that kids of all ages can enjoy the sauna (with consistent supervision from a parent/guardian), making it completely family-friendly. The Grand Marais, Lake Superior location is only available for use by kids aged 10 and over, with direct supervision of a parent/guardian, due to insurance policy parameters. 

 The inside is shaped like an upside-down boat hull, complete with gorgeous wooden benches for relaxing

Visitors to the floating sauna must bring their own water bottles, swimsuits, towels, robes, flip-flops, or other types of shoes. Sauna users do have access to bathroom amenities and grounds at Skyport, and depending on the time of the reservation, can grab some food or a drink at the Raven Rock Grill before or after. 

Like so many things in Cook County, this project didn't come together by itself. 

The wood-fire stove and beautiful views welcome visitors as they step inside

Usem said she is so grateful to the community for being supportive and excited about this new venture. Specifically, she wanted to call out The Barrett Family (Ian, Rebecca, and David), her husband Sam Usem, and Tom Kranz for "Going above and beyond in helping me get the sauna boat up to Cook County, and in and out of the water in the harbor and on Devil's Track Lake." (The sauna had a short test run in the Grand Marais Harbor before making its way to Devil's Track Lake.) 

Additionally, "I am grateful for the support of Bill Hansen and Mark Hansen who made it possible to moore in the Harbor for four nights, and a huge thanks to Skyport for being a great partner," she added.

 Sauna-goers have access to Skyport Lodge's bathroom amenities and grounds. Visitors can also enjoy a drink or food at the Raven Rock Grill

The floating sauna is already a popular attraction, selling out the first two days that it was open, and guests are giving rave reviews. However, according to Usem, Mother Nature will determine when the season ends. 

For now, "While our weekends are filling up fast there are still some openings, as well as good availability on Wednesdays and Thursdays", she said. 

To learn more about the floating sauna, mobile sauna, or "flagship" location or to make reservations, visit:


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