BWCAW Wilderness FACTS Wildlife Viewing/Birding Scenic Touring Seasons Outfitters Links
The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is truly an international wonder. Its 1,100 lakes, spanning the Minnesota-Ontario border, bring beauty, serenity, and vast solitude to the many visitors who go there.
The nation's largest wilderness area east of the Mississippi -- but only barely east of it -- is the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). Its 1.1 million acres anchor wildness in northern Minnesota. Like-sized Quetico Provincial Park adjoins the BWCAW in neighboring Ontario and together they form a 2-million-plus acre wildland complex that supports wolves, moose, deer, bear, lynx, beaver and the very symbol of the north woods, the loon.
BWCAW AT A GLANCE
ACREAGE 1.09 million acres
VISITORS 200,000 per year
HISTORY The earliest recorded white folk explored the area about 1660. Soon after that came the "Voyageurs" French and other northern Europeans, exploring and exploiting the resources of the area. They traded manufactured goods for furs well into Canada. The Native People trapped and traded furs with these people.
BEST TIME TO VISIT The first part of June and the last two weeks of August is traditionally when the best weather conditions exist. FISHING There are four major fish species you will find swimming the BWCA and Quetico Park lakes. Northern pike, smallmouth bass, walleye, and lake trout.
LOGGING Logging began in around 1893 which was so-named the "era of tall pine logging."
MOTORS Snowmobiles had been allowed in certain areas of the BWCA until September 8, 1976. The first snowmobile use came to the BWCA about 1950. Motorboats were used in the BWCA as early as 1922. Now banned but on a few large periphery lakes, canoes rule the water. Skiers and dogsleds slip through the woods during the winter.
RESORTS The BWCA has an 80-year history of recreational use. This area became one of the first parts of Minnesota extensively served by resorts. The 1920s and 1930s, roads made the area accessible and ushered in a period of rapid growth in the resort industry.
For additional information, call the Grand Marais Area Tourism Association: