The Annual Border Challenges – A BeaV Perspective

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The BWCAW Permit and Visitor Use Report

By Riley Smith | August 30, 2023

At the end of July, last year’s visitor use report was published by the USFS. It notes current statistics and trends in visitor numbers and activities. It also provides a unique benchmark which, along with past visitor surveys (and more major studies from 2007, 1992, and 1969) gives a glimpse into the people utilizing the…

Finding Solitude in the BWCAW

By mlarson | June 18, 2019

Though the Boundary Waters is the most visited wilderness area in the United States, it’s refreshingly empty compared to most national or state parks and seldom feels crowded. For many, the occasional encounter with another group is no big deal. But all of us dream about wilderness solitude at some point in our outdoor career:…

Echoes of ’93 – Managing a Complicated Wilderness

By Riley Smith | February 3, 2023

“There is currently too much visitor use in some areas of the BWCAW on some days. Excessive use results in the following impacts: Off-site camping on non-designated sites which impacts vegetation, soils, and heritage resources. Some designated campsites and portages are too heavily impacted based upon our LAC inventory data. Approximately 85% of all existing…

Trail Stories: Why I Love to Share the Wilderness

By Riley Smith | June 28, 2022

  In my time in the Boundary Waters, I have come to love sharing the experience with people who are completely new to it all, yet there is so much potential for things to be frustrating when introducing people for the first time. Perhaps you won’t be able to travel as quickly as you normally…

Map Mondays – Week 1 – Hog Creek to Skipper/Portage

By Riley Smith | June 26, 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 big trip of nine nights from Hog Creek to Skipper/Portage. It’s certainly a big and challenging route, but…

The Magic of a Winter Wilderness

By Riley Smith | January 25, 2023

The Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota are special. There’s no denying that. Every year, hundreds of thousands flock to this northern wilderness area to experience a landscape where canoes outnumber the cars and a wild landscape is, in some ways, locked in time. But every winter as the canoes are tucked away, the summer tents…

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.…

The Comprehensive Guide to Portaging Like a Pro

By Riley Smith | June 14, 2023

We all took our first portage somewhere. From those first tender rods on wobbly legs, we each struggled to carry all our gear from lake to lake. For many of us, this was also a time of questions: “Why did I bring so much gear?”, “Why is my canoe so heavy?”, “Am I in good…

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…

Footsteps of the Past – Tracing Minnesota’s Historic Portages

By Riley Smith | July 14, 2023

. In 1992, a report was concluded as portages of historical significance were surveyed in order to be included in a bid for the National Register of Historic Places. As part of this survey, archeologists looked for signs of the past and recorded the conditions of the trails and how time had changed them. The results were varied. Some trails had vanished completely or become so overgrown that they were nearly impossible to follow. In a few places in Minnesota though, there are still opportunities to trod in the tread of voyageurs and native peoples alike with a canoe on your shoulders and a sense of adventure in your heart. The spirit of the portage is still very much alive in the land of 10,000 lakes. Here are some of the most historic portages in the state.

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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