Lakeside lodges, resorts and campgrounds provide a
comfortable stay at the edge of this quiet, peaceful
wilderness. The story of the Gunflint Trail is told at the
Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center, at a restored
In the winter, many lodges cater to cross-country
skiers who can explore more than 200 km. of groomed
trails. Snowshoeing trails and dogsled outings add to the
winter fun. Snowmobilers have miles of trails to explore.
Winter enthusiasts appreciate the abundant snowfall the
Gunflint Trail enjoys, and the special beauty this season
endows on the wilderness.
Ely, at the western edge of the Boundary Waters, has
interesting shops, restaurants and museums. Dorothy
Molter was the last resident of the Boundary Waters, and
her log cabins, which were moved to Ely after her death,
provide a glimpse into her incredible life in the
wilderness. At the International Wolf Center, you can
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness
National Geographic Traveler
magazine named the BWCAW
as one of the top 50 travel
destinations in the world.
Trails link the lakes and rivers; primitive campsites are
scattered along lake shores. While some paddlers come to
fish, others come simply to experience nature without the
sights and sounds of civilization. National Geographic
Traveler magazine named the BWCAW as one of the top
50 travel destinations in the world.
The Gunflint Trail and Sawbill Trail, both off Highway
61 along the North Shore, are eastern access points to the
BWCAW. The Ely and Crane Lake areas provide access to
the western side of the BWCAW. Outfitters in all these
areas help their customers plan their canoe trips and
provide canoes, camping gear, food, and fishing tips.
Permits from the Superior National Forest are required
for entry into the BWCAW in order to protect this
wilderness preserve; the permits are available through
canoe outfitters, as well.
The Gunflint Trail, a 63-mile paved highway, is a
state and national scenic byway that explores the north
woods and lakes inland from Grand Marais. The lakes
surrounding the Gunflint Trail are legendary favorites
with anglers looking for trout, bass and walleye. Hikers
have their choice of Superior National Forest trails,
including the seven-mile round-trip trek up to Eagle
Mountain, the highest point in Minnesota. The forest also
has boat landings and rustic campgrounds. A ranger
station in Grand Marais provides information on
recreation and wildlife in the Superior Forest.
observe a resident wolf pack and learn more about this
fascinating animal. The North American Bear Center
features videos of black bear behavior and live bears in a
There are dozens of resorts and campgrounds in the
Ely area and on the perimeter of the BWCAW. The
Superior National Forest district office in Ely has
information on boat landings, rustic campgrounds, and
hiking trails. Just west of Ely, Bear Head Lake State Park
has a swimming beach and lake scenery very similar to
the Boundary Waters.
Ely is a winter destination, as well. Several outfitters
offer dog-sledding trips. Snowmobiling, ice fishing and
cross-country skiing are other winter draws.
With more than 1,200 miles of shoreline, most of it
undeveloped, Lake Vermilion west of Ely is one of the
region’s largest and most beautiful bodies of water. There