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Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Year XVIII

Grand Marais, Minnesota


Added by Will Wente

Peace & SolitudePristine WaterAmazing WildlifeUntouched WildernessLeave No Trace Principal

This year was our 18th year making a trip to Northern Minnesota for a weeklong camping adventure in the BWCAW. The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is located in Northern Minnesota on the Border of Canada. It is has over a million acres of untouched wilderness, lakes, rivers, hills, canyons, cliffs, and beaches. It is home to some of the best canoeing and fishing in the world.

200 years ago, French voyageurs traveling to Minnesota from the Hudson Bay created the paths and some of the campsites we use today. You can enter the boundary waters from three separate destinations, Ely, Tofte, and Grand Marais. You must obtain a permit which includes your group size, watercraft, entry point, and date of entry. Beyond that, everything is up to you. You can go wherever you please, and stay for as long as you wish.

The Boundary Waters is one of the last untouched, pristine areas in the United States, and much of that has to do with the Leave No Trace principal. From the moment you enter the boundary waters till the moment you leave you will see nothing created by humans other than fire grates and latrines at designated campsites. To access the inner lakes in the Boundary Waters, you must traverse lakes and carry your canoes and gear across portages, skinny pathways between lakes that are measured in rods (1 rod is equal to 16.5 feet). We usually stay at each campsite for only one night, and move on the next day, deeper into the wilderness. It is not uncommon to find yourself, or your group, alone on a 3 mile long lake. While this is what many people come to the boundary waters for, it is extremely important to be careful and exercise safety precautions to ensure a good trip. There are very dangerous situations, and one misstep or bad choice can ruin the trip, and put everyone in danger.

We had 7 people in our group this year. That meant at each campsite we set up 3 tents, however many of us chose to sleep in our hammocks under the stars at night. It is incredibly peaceful falling asleep underneath a brightly lit sky listening to the loons and other wildlife as you slowly fall asleep.

It was another successful trip to the BWCA, and we look forward to many more to come.

  • Will Wente
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