The Ten Types of BWCA Campsite

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

By Riley Smith | June 28, 2023

The June 28th USFS newsletter contained the results of a six-month-long survey with confidential feedback from 100 individuals representing a wide scope of BWCAW users, affiliated businesses, nonprofits, and managing agencies. Their survey delved deep into the complexities of managing America’s busiest, and often one of the most complicated and controversial, wilderness areas. The results…

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…

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…

Map Mondays – Week 6 – Duncan to Duncan

By Riley Smith | August 14, 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 nice sightseeing and exploring kind of route entering at Duncan Lake east of the Gunflint Trail. Total Mileage:…

Gear Features: We’ve got your back(straps)!

By Riley Smith | August 2, 2022

  At Portage North and Sundog Sport, we sell gear that we would want to use and that we can trust. In that pursuit, we are constantly improving our gear so that it can be more enjoyable to use, more trustworthy, and easier to make to a high standard. Much has changed since Portage North…

How to Chase the Northern Lights – A Short Story

By Riley Smith | March 28, 2023

Article writing can be a process for me. I usually have five or six partial articles in the queue and sometimes take long breaks from one before coming back to it again. Sometimes there are complicated graphics or illustrations to put together or lots of research to be done. Very rarely is an article reactionary…

How to Name Over 1000 Different Lakes – The BWCA

By Riley Smith | October 14, 2022

The Boundary Waters have seemingly endless lakes bearing names from Ojibwe, French, English, or English mistranslations, misspellings, or honest translations of the Ojibwe. Many have fascinating backstories of how they came by their names. Some lakes have seemingly had the same name as long as time can remember while others have switched multiple times. This…

Six Rules for BWCAW Portage Etiquette

By Riley Smith | May 15, 2024

If you are new to wilderness canoe camping, especially in a heavily used wilderness area like the BWCAW, then the group traffic at some of the busier portages in Canoe Country may come as a shock. Here are six [written and unwritten] rules you should apply the next time you portage on a well-congested portage trail.…

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…

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…

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.

1 Comments

  1. […] emanating out from the camp kitchen, and there are some themes seemingly weaving through the sites (see our article from last year.) There is also astounding variety and in the wonderful individualism of campsites we can learn […]

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