A Wilderness of the People – The 2023 Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Situational Assessment

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The Best BWCA Entry Points for Every Winter Activity

By Riley Smith | December 12, 2022

With lake ice quickly becoming travelable, many of us are dreaming about where in the BWCA we’ll head this winter. Winter is a peculiar contrast to summer in this neck of the woods. A whole different gear set is required to travel and stay safe (more on that in future articles.) Accessibility becomes much harder…

A Few Tips for Faster Portaging

By mlarson | June 3, 2019

“Anyone who says they like portaging is either a liar or crazy,” said Bill Mason, the legendary Canadian paddler and environmentalist, in his 1984 film Waterwalker.  While there’s a gritty sense of satisfaction in carrying your entire camp over rocks, roots, and trees, for most paddlers portages are something to be completed rather than savored. And…

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…

The Evolving Food Pack – How Gear Improves Over Time

By Riley Smith | March 6, 2023

Every spring as outfitters begin gearing up for the busy summer season ahead, production begins to turn from winter dogsports back to portage packs. Alongside the new gear, a reunion of sorts takes place as old packs come back to us through the fall and into the spring as outfitters send in old gear for…

Map Mondays – Week 2 – Kawishiwi Lake to Stuart River

By Riley Smith | July 3, 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 is a fast-moving 5-night trip from Kawishiwi Lake to Stuart River. It crosses some of the quietest stretches of the…

The Lost BWCA Entry Points

By Riley Smith | November 4, 2022

The Boundary Waters have always been steeped in discussions of how to manage the number of people who visit it. Unlike western wildernesses, there is no natural filter which prevents large numbers of visitors from enjoying it. Many wilderness areas are remote, buffered by dozens of miles of existing land that one must travel through…

How to Make the Most of High Water in the BWCA: A Trip Report

By Riley Smith | June 1, 2022

Open water season is well upon us and this year has been extraordinary so far. A decent snowpack and a late melt combined for a high water spring. As a result, there have been numerous stories of capsized watercraft and perilous experiences. High water can be a challenge and a hazard that should not be…

Leave it to Beaver – How Beavers Change the BWCA

By Riley Smith | August 16, 2022

When I study nature, I love to learn about the superlatives. I appreciate how the tallest mountains, the biggest trees, or the oldest animals have a way to serve as ambassadors, helping people to appreciate the natural world even if they don’t understand the “nitty-gritty” science of everything. It’s with this mindset that I set…

Let’s Break the Ice on a BWCA November Canoe Trip!

By Riley Smith | November 18, 2022

  It’s been snowing all week here in Ely which points to a winter season fast approaching. In the meantime, this is one of the more challenging seasons for wilderness travel with many big lakes still open, smaller lakes starting to freeze, and trails and forests covered in fresh, wet snow. To the majority of…

Flying South – Where Do the BW’s Birds Go?

By Riley Smith | January 5, 2024

Every winter, the forests of canoe country fall silent as so many of the sounds of summer fade with the season. With the coming of winter’s chill, many of the birds that call these wild shores their summer home head south to milder wintering grounds from the rivers of southern Minnesota, the southern states, all…

Author Bio:

Riley Smith

Riley is the Director of Community Engagement and Public Relations for Portage North and Sundog Sport. He comes from a background in wilderness programing and environmental education with four years of BWCA outfitting and guiding before taking this role. In his free time, he can be found out canoeing, hiking, snowshoeing, capturing photography, and writing.

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