Home Your Guide to Ely, Canoe Country & the BWCAW – Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

Your Guide to Ely, Canoe Country & the BWCAW – Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

Ely, MN

Ely resorts, outfitters and businesses welcome you to Ely and to ElyMinnesota.com/ElyMN.us, your virtual gateway to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. These organizations know the value in these hectic times of a place of natural wonder, an excursion into the natural world that will renew your mind, body and spirit. For some it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but even that can be life-changing. Most, once they have experienced the Arrowhead Region, the Superior National Forest, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and environs, want more. They come back as many times as they possibly can, some yearly. You will understand why once you visit and recreate here. The appeal of the Minnesota Arrowhead Region is so great that people want to live here and retire here. Minnesotans have the longest life spans of any state in the U.S. for a reason. Come join us.

If you have never been here before, the best way to ease into this boreal forest region is by contacting one of Ely’s fine resorts or outfitters. They have the knowledge and skills to guide you through the process, whether you are an experienced outdoors person or totally new to the experience. If you have never “camped out” in your life, no problem; for your first visit you might want to contact a resort in the area and enjoy your first wilderness adventure from the comfort of a resort cabin, taking guidance for day trips on one of our many scenic lakes or hiking on of our many and varied nature trials. Join the Ely Field Naturalists for a guided hike each Wednesday. The subject varies weekly, so check our Events Calendar for details.

Although our long cold winters offer new adventures in these boreal forests, by spring we begin to think of canoeing into the Boundary Waters, setting up camp, and immersing ourselves in nature’s comforts and beauty surrounded by lakes, pines, clouds and camp life. Those of you who have had the pleasure of this BWCAW experience know exactly what I mean. If you have not, do yourself a favor and put a BWCAW canoe trip on your must-do list or at least your bucket list.

Whether you’re an outdoor adventurer or more of a lakeside dreamer, there’s plenty for everyone to do while in Ely, the center of the Arrowhead Region of Northeastern Minnesota.

  • Canoeing in the Boundary Waters.
  • Fishing for walleye, Northern pike, smallmouth and largemouth bass or lake trout on our many lakes, or brook trout in some of the many small streams here.
  • Bring or hone your skills as a photographer. Nature photography is easier here because we still have nature at our doorstep. Nature photography is a pastime for many here, and you will find professional photographers love this area also.
  • Hiking, backpacking, camping, or just relaxing under the stars. Maybe you would be lucky enough to see the Northern Lights from some of our dark sky areas; even if the Northern Lights don’t make an appearance, the stars are spectacular when the sky is dark.
  • For your shopping needs, Ely has all you will ever need or want to carry or take home. We’ve got you covered.

To prime yourself (if new) or to reminisce (if you’re an ‘old’ paddler, camper, backpacker ,or hiker), pick up one of Sigurd Olson’s books in our Products area. Very few writers can elicit fond BWCAW sensory memories or help a soon-to-be-visitor connect to the essence of the BWCAW experience better than Sigurd Olson (1899-1982), regarded as one of the greatest environmentalists of the 20th century — in my mind, of any century.

After years of traveling in the Quetico Superior region of Northern Minnesota and Canada, Olson purchased land on Burntside Lake near Ely. He named that land and the point that sticks out from a secluded bay there Listening Point. His second book, written in 1958, was named “Listening Point” after the land he so dearly loved and admired. Olson was a man viscerally, emotionally, spiritually, and luckily for us intellectually connected to nature, with the ability to write about that connection. The book “Listening Point” would be a great introduction to our area. After reading that book you will naturally ask the question, “Can we see Listening Point?” And the answer is yes, tours can be arranged for you by contacting the Listening Point Foundation.

For those of you who have been following www.elyminnesota.com and our Threatened Waters Blog, you know that many of your friends here in the Arrowhead Region of Minnesota have been very concerned about the threat of copper mining proposed for this area. The good news is that more and more people and professional groups basing their point of view on science, history, and a balanced view of risks and benefits are beginning to win over third-generation miners and community leaders who classified themselves as “on the fence” eight years ago. They are now saying they have learned enough to get off the fence and they do not believe that copper mining is a good idea here in Northeastern Minnesota. I am personally so pleased that these good people have taken the time to weigh the pros and cons. The tide has turned and is still turning.