The Evolving Food Pack – How Gear Improves Over Time

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The Annual Border Challenges – A BeaV Perspective

By Riley Smith | August 25, 2023

We are a week away from the annual Minnesota Border Route Canoe Challenges hosted by The Water Tribe. Each year, a small-yet-dedicated crew set off from Sha Sha Resort near International Falls, from Crane Lake or Little Indian Sioux on the western edge of the BWCA, or from Moose Lake off the Fernberg with the…

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…

Is it Spring in Canoe Country Yet?

By Riley Smith | April 28, 2023

This winter has felt like a long one. The final weeks before opening water always do, but this year has felt extra drawn out. Numerous cities in Minnesota have broken their snowfall records and ice is still firmly on the lakes around Ely. To the Boundary Waters enthusiast, this is a painful time of year…

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.

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

Worst BWCAW Reviews – The Wilderness is NOT for Everyone

By Riley Smith | May 17, 2024

This time of the year, the itch for that perfect summer canoe trip begins to intensify as permits are pulled, routes are planned, gear is cleaned, and the days begin to lengthen! It’s also time to remember that for every person who lives and breathes their wilderness trips, there is another who writes theirs off…

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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