The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) outside Ely, Minnesota, in conjunction with Canada’s nearby Quetico Provencial Park, is home to over 2,000 lakes connected by rivers and portages only accessible to paddlers.
Hit it in the fall, when the bugs and tourists are gone, and it turns into a melting pot of colors that change with every stroke of your paddle. (It’s also one of the few places on earth where you can drink water straight from the lake).
In autumn, its boreal forest bursts with vibrant splendor into a mix of yellows and reds, offset by the dark green of balsam, spruce and pine. The colors start early in September with the maples and peak with forests of aspen and birch in late September and early October.
Best Place to Paddle: the Boundary Waters and Quetico Provencial Park areas are so vast, paddlers can put in at any number of places and have a great experience. Piragis Northwoods Co. (see below) can help you narrow your options down as they offer trips tailored to specific interests with routes for great fishing, waterfalls, wildlife, solitude and more. Boundary Waters Outfitters also offers a number of route suggestions depending on how much time you have and your ability level.
Whether you head out for a day or week, en route you paddle through swamps, bogs, streams, wetlands, rivers and lakes, in as pristine a setting as you’ll ever find.
Bonus: With wildlife on the move in the fall, you’ll have a good chance at seeing moose, bear, otter, beaver, eagles and more, while listening to loon calls and the howl of wolves as you fall asleep under the northern stars.
Outfitters: Piragis Northwoods Co., (800) 223-6565, www.piragis.com