A Few Tips for Faster Portaging

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2022 Border Challenges

By Riley Smith | September 2, 2022

  Everywhere one walks and paddles in the BWCA there is a unique connection with the past. Every lake, every portage is filled with stories of legendary figures and lives lived. And through those stories come the marvelous tales of adventure and achievement born of adversity and hardship amidst the beauty. This coming week, a…

Five Ways to Make the Most of BWCA Permit Day

By Riley Smith | January 20, 2023

With BWCA permit day just around the corner, plenty of people are waiting in eager anticipation of how opening day will set the trajectory of their summer trips. Some people will log on the moment that permits open to try to reserve a premium entry point on the dates that they are available to go.…

How to Name Over 1000 Different Lakes: Part 2

By Riley Smith | October 27, 2023

Last year, we published an article about Boundary Waters lake names, their inspirations, their backgrounds, and which themes and names are common or often repeated. Among 1100 different lakes in the BWCAW alone, there are quite a variety of names! In this sequel article, we are visiting the BWCAW, Quetico, and Voyageurs National Park to…

The Ten Types of BWCA Campsite

By Riley Smith | November 30, 2022

Every traveler to the BWCA has their ideal of what a campsite should look like and what features it should have. Perhaps it has a sprawling camp kitchen or a nice overlook. Perhaps it’s perched on an island or alongside a sprawling beach. But whether the campsite is easy to access or is tucked back…

The Route Planning Game

By Riley Smith | June 15, 2023

“Probably the best remedy for the canoe freak is map watching. Pouring over maps can often get you through the canoeless season when nothing else can. I recommend it highly. If you coat the maps with plastic, you can even use them as tablecloths, curtains, and all sorts of things. However, no matter what you…

Map Mondays – Week 5 – Baker to Magnetic

By Riley Smith | August 7, 2023

As part of our continuing series on the “route planning game,” we are creating routes using randomly selected entry points, exit points, and number of days to create unique and fun BWCA routes. This week highlights a route across some of the busier routes on the eastern BWCA but, in using some creative strategy, allows…

8 Great Places to Canoe/Kayak Camp this Fall in Minnesota

By Riley Smith | September 29, 2022

Fall is a magical time of the year to get out and enjoy nature. And for me, I think it’s my favorite season to head out in a canoe to relish in the fleeting days of open water. The Boundary Waters are so special this time of year, and next week’s article will cover how…

Overnight to Dorothy’s – A Trip Report

By Riley Smith | August 23, 2022

  I will admit that sadly I never met Dorothy Molter. When I took my first Boundary Waters trip, she had already been gone for 17 years. And yet, like many of us who have only enjoyed the stories, she remains a revered figure in our local history. And it’s the same for so many…

Smoke On the Horizon – How Fire Towers Changed BWCA History

By Riley Smith | July 19, 2022

A drive out from Ely today, and you won’t see many fire towers. They’ve vanished as antiquated methods of dutiful rangers past. But less people remember how those fire towers have shaped our wilderness experiences.

How Trees Tell the Story of the BWCA

By Riley Smith | March 21, 2023

Today is the International Day of Forests which means it’s the perfect day to celebrate the trees of the BWCA. The Boundary Waters are a unique mosaic of forests born out of wildfire, windstorms, logging, and the passage of time. Despite the history of disturbance, the Boundary Waters contain the largest tracts of old growth…

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