Wildlife in Wildlands – A History of BWCA Wildlife

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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…

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…

A History of the Humble BWCAW Fire Grate

By Riley Smith | September 29, 2023

Across the BWCAW there are campsites big and small. Some have shallow water and sandy beaches, others sit perched high upon rocky outcroppings. Some sit close to shore while others are tucked back into the forest. Some are perfectly suited for a single tent while others could easily accommodate the maximum 9-person group and then…

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…

How to Hike the BWCA this Fall

By Riley Smith | October 19, 2022

For those of us whose Boundary Waters trips don’t end with canoe season, Fall can be a challenging time to decide what activities to pursue. As the ice begins to line the outer edges of the lakes and canoeing becomes tougher, it’s just the perfect time of the year to hit the trails and backpack…

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.

How to See the BWCA in One Trip

By Riley Smith | August 9, 2022

  When it comes to planning trips, I can be a bit of a dreamer, and if you’re anything like me, you spend a great deal of time thinking about what could be possible. I may not have the days lined up or the permits pulled yet. I may not even know which friends will…

Map Mondays – Week 5 – Baker to Magnetic

By Riley Smith | August 7, 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 highlights a route across some of the busier routes on the eastern BWCA but, in using some creative strategy, allows…

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…

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…

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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