Voyageurs or BWCA sampler

I will be in nothern Minnesota in june and have an opportunity to sample one of these two parks for just one full day. I realize these parks are best explored via extended trips and camping. Thus anything I do will have to be, preferably a guided tour and rental as a day trip, on either Park’s outer boundary vs. interior. A non-motorized body of water if preferred, making Voyageurs less attractive. Is it possible to sample either park as just a day trip?

Check out Sawbill Outfitters. They are on Sawbill Lake, near Tofte. There’s an entry point to the BWCA on Sawbill. Can get self issued day use permit. They rent canoes and all you need for day or longer trip.

Lots of options in BWCA
Dozens of places rent canoes. Guides are harder to come by, but I’m not sure you need one for a day trip. The outfitters can provide you good recommendations, and, as the previous poster said, day permits are always available. Note that overnight permits are another story entirely!

Sawbill is a great place with a great outfitter. The area around Ely is also wonderful, with lots of options. Do you want wildlife, scenery, history, fishing? Choose the area you want to go out of, and then pick an outfitter. Start corresponding with them to decide what day trip you’d like to do.


more info
If BWCA, the western section.

Wildlife sightings and scenery, not fishing.

BWCA day trips
My wife and I live close enough to the BWCA to do several day trips a year, but we generally go in off the Gunflint in the east. Here is some day trip info for points west of Ely on the Echo Trail. This an address for the Piragis site past newsletters:

In the May 2, 2005 and May 9, 2005 editions of the newsletter, Bert Heep, one of the fine folks at Piragis, has written up day trip routes for Little Indian Sioux River south, Little Indian Sioux River north, and Stuart Lake.

BWCAW Day Trips
My two choices would be out of Bearskin/Hungry Jack area or Gunflint Lake for waterfalls and pretty scenery. Here’s a link to Boundary country Trekking. Ted still does some guided canoe trips. Known them for almost 20 years now, great people and Ted was born and raised on the Gunflint Trail on an island in Poplar Lake. Their small lodge (Poplar Creek Guesthouse) is great for a few nights and I garuntee you won’t find a better breakfast ANYWHERE. Here’s the link. WW

Go to Ely,
Just my .02… but go to Ely, get there early, rent a canoe and take a day trip… daytrip permits do not cost you anything and you can enter anywhere you wish… The numbered lakes are good just to paddle, Farm Lake area, Moose Lake Area… lots of places to paddle, and some very neat places to visit in town and the surrounding area.


Grand Marais Area
I live in Grand Marais and one of the nice things about entering the BWCA from this side is that you get to come to the north shore of Lake Superior. If you’ve never been to the north shore just imagine a fresh water ocean on one side and on the other rivers cascading down canyons and over waterfalls.

For a day trip, there are many great lakes to paddle. My favorite day trip lately is from Bearskin to the Stairway Portage. You can read my trip report here:

Plus, if you have the time, you can get a guided kayak trip on Lake Superior from Superior Coastal Sports or if you stay at Lutsen Resort, you can get one from there for free.

The Grand Marais side definitely has a ton of bang for the buck.

My Thoughts Exactly
Didn’t want to start a “Ely vs Grand Marais” tussle, but IMHO there is no comparison. Grand Marais is one of the most beautifull towns I’ve ever been to. Been going out of GM since the early '80’s and Ty at the Beaver House was a kid helping his pop. When I go down the hill into town it’s like coming home! I’ve steered several people towards that particular entry point over the years, one P.netter who I literally bumped into after reccomending it. You’re a lucky man to call that place home. Now I’m having a craving for a Sven and Ole Uff-da-zah and a good “Sit” down at Artists point! WW

Voyageur Park vs. BWCA
Clearly BWCA is paddlers paradise and Sawbill and other entry points lend themselves to day trips. I thoroughly enjoyed a 5 day trek through Voyaguers a few years ago in kayaks. True more motor traffic but they head out along main routes and are gone (fishing). Staying near shore and inner islands means less disturbances. Oldly enough most of the campsites, when you look at a map, are clustered around distances a motor boat could travel in a few hours.

With so many entry points along southern border of BWCA And so many lakes just outside the BWCA in national and state forest areas - you could find scores of places to paddle that have that BWCA feel, and wouldn’t even need a permit!!!