(BPT) - When people think of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, they think of Ely. This is the gateway to the BWCA, the jewel in Minnesota’s vast wilderness.
We don’t wanna brag, but of the 10,000 lakes that Minnesota is famous for, the most beautiful are up here.
What if you want to experience the magic of our crystal-clear lakes and breathe in that pristine wilderness air but don’t want to sleep on the ground or spend the night with the bugs and the bears?
There is no shortage of ways to explore the BWCA. For those who want a hot bath and a cold drink at the end of the day, here are five of the best ways to enjoy the BWCA without a tent.
Get up early. We get it, you’re on vacation, and part of that entails sleeping in and not worrying about what the clock says. You don’t want anyone to tell you to get up early. But trust us, this is an exception. In Ely and throughout the BWCA, there’s a magic in the predawn hours that is indescribable. Whether it’s a loon calling off the lake, mist rising from the water or soft light causing the lake to sparkle like a jewel, it’s a truly unmatched experience. Besides, you can always take a nap later!
A day of exploration. What Lake One lacks in a name, it makes up for in beauty. Located at the end of Fernberg Road, a beautiful drive just east of Ely, many adventurers have set out from Lake One and gone out for days, even weeks, into the wilderness. But you can just go for the day, and head back to your cozy lodge or cabin when the day is done. With its many bays and islands, Lake One is the perfect choice for a day of adventure. Bring a picnic and your fishing rod and be ready to poke around and explore.
Look at pictographs. Want to see some ancient rock art? Curious to see what it’s like to portage a canoe? Head north to the parking lot at South Hegman Lake and take a short portage to the lake itself. From there it’s another short portage followed by a short paddle to the painted rocks. It’s a great way to bundle Native American history, art and adventure in one package.
Paddleboard. Yes, purists might gripe that it’s the CANOE Area Wilderness, but times have changed and more people have embraced paddleboarding. Many resorts offer paddleboard rentals, so you can wake up, stand up and go out on the lake. If the place where you’re staying doesn’t offer rentals, check with one of the outfitters.
Take a hike. For those who want to adventure into the backcountry, Ely has plenty of hiking opportunities where you will get up close and personal with the north woods. One of the most popular is the short, 1.5-mile Kawishiwi Falls Trail, which brings foot travelers to a spectacular 70-foot waterfall. For those who have some more calories to burn, the Bass Lake Trail showcases six miles of the area’s geology and land forms.
This barely scratches the surface of everything you can do in the Boundary Waters and still end the day on a plush bed!