Five Ways to Make the Most of BWCA Permit Day

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The Ten Most Challenging BWCA Lakes to Visit

By Riley Smith | May 16, 2023

The Boundary Water Canoe Area Wilderness encompasses over a million acres and 1100 named lakes interconnected by portages and streams, but sometimes that vast expanse can feel a little cramped, especially along entries where larger numbers of groups congregate. For the cynic who feels the BWCA is lacking some inherent quality of wilderness in this…

A Bird’s Eye of the BW – Telling the Story from Above

By Riley Smith | April 13, 2023

It started as a funny game of sorts. As I was scrolling past google satellite imagery dreaming of future canoe country routes and trip plans, I would begin noticing the occasional canoe group on the photos. I soon began looking for them. It was a game of “I spy,” picking out small floating canoes and…

Emergency Communication in the Wilderness – 4 Things To Know Before Your Canoe Trip

By kodev | February 20, 2020

If you’ve never been on a wilderness trip before, the idea of traveling beyond cell service, seemingly out of touch with the rest of the world, can seem daunting. The questions are many: How do we let concerned family members know where we are? Will there be any cell service? What if we need to…

Map Mondays – Week 11 – Morgan to Lake One

By Riley Smith | September 13, 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’s route running from one of the BWCA’s quietest entry points to one of the busiest, embraces a mentality of solitude…

An Expert’s Perspective on BWCA Forests

By Riley Smith | September 15, 2023

Lee Frelich, Director of The University of Minnesota Center for Forest Ecology, is one of the foremost experts on the forests of the BWCAW and the fire ecology that dictates its composition. We interviewed him to gain his invaluable insight into this incredible ecosystem, its history, and a glimpse into its future. Question 1. For…

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 4 – Bower Trout to Little Indian Sioux North

By Riley Smith | July 24, 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’s randomly selected entry points set us up for a cross-BWCA trip. It’s a long, 10-night trip that covers most of…

Three Generations of BWCAW Rules Videos – Side by Side

By Riley Smith | December 13, 2023

It’s as ubiquitous of an experience as one can find tied to a canoe trip into the Boundary Waters, and the memories of it are deeply rooted in my childhood as they are for many who make the annual pilgrimage north to paddle the border waters of canoe country. Even now, I can close my…

The 12 Longest Portages in Canoe Country

By Riley Smith | September 22, 2023

The act of portaging between two waterways is usually, understandably, an intentionally short affair. Paddle to the closest point between two water bodies and then portage. This doesn’t make it easy or “type 1 fun” every time, but it’s the burden we bear for wilderness travel. Some portages stick with us whether they are steep…

Map Mondays – Week 3 – Crab Lake/Cummings Lake to Big Lake

By Riley Smith | July 10, 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 an arduous 6 night trip through the far western reaches of the BWCA. This area of the BWCA can…

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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