It Started in the Quetico: How One Trip Changed Me

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The Best Month To Plan A Canoe Trip? Might Be September…

By mlarson | June 2, 2019

For most of us, the best time to go on a canoe trip is any and every opportunity presented. But if you have a little flexibility in planning your trip, September is a wonderful month to visit canoe country. Here are a few reasons why September might be the best month to plan a wilderness canoe…

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…

10 Steps in Planning an October Canoe Trip to the BWCA

By Riley Smith | October 7, 2022

Fall is a magical season in canoe country: a brief respite of quiet calm between the relative chaos of summer and the icy grip of winter. And, in many ways, the experience of a canoe trip in the BWCA is greatly enriched by the season. Once October 1st rolls around though, the looming threat of…

From the Boundary Waters to Superior – How the Water Falls

By Riley Smith | October 27, 2022

The Boundary Waters are one of the premier destinations in Minnesota and across the Midwest, but, as far as water is concerned, the Boundary Waters are not the end of the journey, but the beginning. Most people enthusiastic about the Boundary Waters know that it is divided into two watersheds along an invisible line known…

It Started in the Quetico: How One Trip Changed Me

By Riley Smith | July 26, 2022

A few weeks back, I reflected on why I enjoy introducing new people to the BWCA and the outdoors in general. My personal enjoyment for sharing those things is as much a reflection of the people that took the time to share them with me. This place would not be as special as it is…

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…

10 Lost Routes in the BWCA

By Riley Smith | February 22, 2023

Warm weather in February is a dangerous thing. If it’s too warm, the mind starts wandering ahead to summer canoe adventures. Warm weather only intensifies the time spent pouring over maps both in remembering treasured trips past and scheming the ones to come. And for me, one of the things I’m looking for on the…

How to Start Wilderness Winter Camping on a Budget

By Riley Smith | December 7, 2022

The wind howls around the steep rocky palisade displacing snow which softly blanketed the lichen-speckled crag the night before. The cold wind bites the face as the eyes turn upwards towards brilliant hues of pink and orange igniting the morning sky. The evening dark and long makes the dawn all the more magical. And with…

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…

How to Pack for a Canoe Trip – The Three-Pack System

By Riley Smith | May 15, 2024

One of the technical ways flatwater canoe trips are packed differently than backpacking trips is in how to organize gear. In a backpacking trip, the gear in the pack often belongs to the person carrying it, with a few communal items like food or shelter divided between party members. The presence of a bulky watercraft to portage…

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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