I am hoping someone will know of the bunkhouses that may be closest to a pine lake entry (68). We would like to minimize travel time for the morning of our entry. Also how long of a drive is it to the entry from the Grand Marais area? As always thanks for the info.
The closest option is the small, first come first serve, campground located right at McFarland lake. It is a primitive but, workable campground. I ALWAYS stay here if I've already picked up my permit.
Judge CR Magney State Park is a much nicer campground. Complete with a very nice shower house. I will usually stay here or at Cascade River State Park if I am unable to pick up my permit the day before entry. A word of warning. Don't expect to just drive up and be able to get a site at these State Parks. Even with advance planning they are often full.
Of course there are a number of places to stay in Grand Marais. And, there are bed & breakfast type places further up the shore going towards Hovland. I have never investigated these options too deeply. Simply because I'm too cheap! :) I would imagine you'd also want/need an advanced reservation for these type of places as well.
As far as outfitters go. I personally don't know of anything past Grand Marais or up the Arrowhead trail. There are several up the Gunflint Trail. But, IMHO they are much too far out of the way to be convenient.