Boundary Waters

From Burden's Landing

On the north shore of Minnesota bordering Ontario, Canada.

Kristin recommended a canoe trip here as a great vacation. Many, many people have since confirmed this.

Ed and I are going for our Midwest (July 2011) trip.

There are two entry points: Ely from the west and Grand Marais (Gunflint Trail) from the east. They're both about equidistant from Duluth (2-3 hours), although Grand Marais is closer (three hours) to Minneapolis than Ely (five hours). Rebecca's dad recommended making Ely your home base and enter from there: the lakes are a bit more accessible, with shorter portages, better for first timers/beginners. However, Rebecca personally loves Gunflint Trail: It's a bit quieter and pretty easy to shoot up into Canada.

  • There are a few bears around but we aren't guaranteed to run into them. Also, they are not grizzlies and mainly cause problems by getting into people's food. There is no hunting right now so no worries about getting shot
  • Portages: there are 16000 lakes in BWCA and almost none of them are connected by a canoeable stream. Therefore, a portage (Lifting the canoe across land) is often necessary. The longest would be 1 mile, but most are substantially shorter
  • Food/water. It is unlikely that we would be catastrophically stranded without water because they give us a water filtration device
  • Getting stranded due to canoe damage. He says it is theoretically possible, but the only time he has seen this happen is: a) one idiot who decided to take a canoe over a waterfall and b) an inebriated tour guide (now ex-tour guide) who took a canoe onto class 5 rapids and got wrecked. The lighter canoes (i.e. better for portages) are more likely to spring a leak, but they provide duct tape with the canoes which usually is sufficient for getting through the trip
  • Other people around: he said we will see other people on the lakes due to the time of year, for better or worse

Mosquito season goes from May to October, with the worst of it in May and June.


Boundary Water Canoe Areas has a listing of local outfitters and lodges.

We contacted:

Recommended by Jacob Kaplan-Moss, David Evan Harris's friend:

How to Get There

The closest airport seems to be Duluth in Minnesota, which is between 2-3 hours drive away from both Ely and Grand Marais. It's more expensive to fly there, as you might imagine. Minneapolis is about a three-hour drive away from Grand Marais, five hours from Ely, and is a cheaper airport.

See Also