Located in Superior National Forest in northeastern Minnesota, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) is an outdoor lovers dream and a summer must. Stretching over 100 miles along the US and Canadian border, most of the lakes and rivers are designated as paddle only (meaning no motors) and allow visitors to truly be one with nature. Getting 250,000 paddlers a year, it’s one of summer’s favorite escapes.

Photo Credit: Patty Carlson

So how do you plan the best possible trip?

It’s actually pretty easy. You can either bring your own canoe or rent one from one of the many outfitters and tour companies in the park to make transportation easier. Both day-trippers and campers are welcome and either option offers excellent wildlife viewing opportunities, fishing, and paddling adventures. Moose, deer, and beavers are the most seen animals but don’t be surprised if you see a black bear, red fox or bobcat on the shoreline, too.

Photo Credit: Random Letters

Spend the Night…or Day

If you plan on spending the night, you’re in luck. There are over 2,000 campsites along the rivers and lakes and can be reserved on a first come, first serve basis. If resorts are more your thing, they have those too and everything in between from rustic to luxury. You’ll just need to plan your route around where you’ll need to pull out to get to your accommodations around sunset.

Photo Credit: Mark Kortum


The best times to visit are May through September when temperatures range from 60-70 degrees. The Boundary Waters Canoe Area can be easily reached in two hours from Duluth and four hours from Minneapolis-St. Paul. Permit are required for the day and overnight trips and can be purchased for $16 per adult and $8 per child up to 17 years old, but book your trip as far in advance as possible because they only sell a certain number of passes per entry point a day.