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6 Reasons to Visit Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Wilderness

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is the most visited Wildernesses Area in the United States and the second largest Wilderness Area east of the Rockies.

By: Megan Wind + Save to a List

With over 1 million acres of lush forests, diverse wildlife, and pristine glacial lakes and rivers, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is a unique treasure located in northern Minnesota. It is the most visited Wildernesses Area in the United States and the second largest Wilderness Area east of the Rockies. The BWCAW, which attracts more than 250,000 people each year, has more than 2,000 backcountry campsites, 1,200 miles of canoe routes, and over 230 miles of overnight hiking trails. The Boundary Waters is Minnesota’s crown jewel. Here are six reasons why you should plan your next wilderness adventure to the BWCAW:

Photo: Brian O’Keefe

1. Best place for bonding.

There is something special about spending time with someone in a canoe or tent in the middle of the wilderness. It is a unique way for friends and families to connect and build long-lasting relationships. People of all ages and skill levels can enjoy the BWCAW whether they are camping, hiking, canoeing or dogsledding. The Boundary Waters is where generations of families have come to develop a lifelong love of nature that brings them back again and again.

Photo: Taber Tang

2. The amazing sunsets.

There is nothing like watching the warm vibrant colors of the sky fade and dance over the rippling reflections of a lake. The Boundary Waters Wilderness and Voyageurs National Park are home to some of the best sunsets in the country. Voyageurs National Park’s Kabetogama Lake recently won USA Today’s Reader’s Choice for 10 Best National Park Locations for Sunrise/Sunset, and it’s clear why.

Photo: Dave Freeman

3. The beautiful night sky.

In the Boundary Waters, the night sky is so clear that you can see the Milky Way and sometimes even the Northern Lights. You are far away from the light pollution that comes with civilization, giving you a chance to view the stars like you’ve never seen them before. The Northern Lights can be viewed year-round in the BWCA, but are seen more often during the winter season. The Boundary Waters is a top destination for those wanting to see the night sky in the vast Wilderness.

Photo: Dave Freeman

4. Top fishing and hunting destination. 

The Boundary Waters wilderness is an angler’s paradise. Sportsmen and women can enjoy the world-renowned fishing and incomparable scenery that so many have come to know and cherish. Walleye, northern pike, smallmouth bass and lake trout are just some of the fish found in these glistening waters. Ely, Minnesota, is the gateway to the Boundary Waters and ranks as the 12th best fishing town in America according to Field & Stream. Many people who visit the BWCAW travel long distances for these unique fishing opportunities. To find out more about the sportsmen and women fighting to protect the Boundary Waters visit: http://www.sportsmenfortheboundarywaters.org/visit-bwca

Photo: Brian O'Keefe

5. Plenty of wildlife.

The Boundary Waters Wilderness is home to a variety of wildlife including deer, moose, black bear, and even Canadian lynx. It is also within the range of the largest population of wolves in the contiguous United States. The Boundary Waters provides unique opportunities, where you can experience wildlife up close. Paddling in the early morning or late evening will give you a chance to view wildlife as they move to the edge of the water to feed or drink. Along with the Superior National Forest, the Boundary Waters contains 20 percent of all the fresh water in the entire National Forest System. This helps to create a diverse ecosystem that is important to protect.

Photo: Steve Piragis

6.  The pristine waters.

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is home to some of the cleanest water in the world. Many of the lakes and rivers in the BWCA are so clear that you can see straight down to the bottom and visitors often pride themselves on drinking straight from the lakes and rivers.

These pristine waters are currently threatened by sulfide-ore copper mining, which would seriously harm the Boundary Waters watershed and the wildlife that calls it home. The forests of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness are deeply interconnected through streams, lakes, wetlands and groundwater. Sulfide-ore copper mining activities would disrupt this relationship, resulting in the loss of forest area and native biodiversity. This unique Wilderness needs to be protected from this risky type of mining for the enjoyment of future generations. To learn more about the cause and find out more about how you can help, visit savetheboundarywaters.org  

Photo: Dave Freeman

Discover amazing adventures in the BWCAW here!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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