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Last updated by Silver Canoe on 2/27/2015 7:42:01 PM


Canoeing is the most popular activity in the Boundary Waters. Most lakes in the BWCA are only accessible by canoe. Canoeists have to paddle and portage (carrying the canoe and gear overland to the next lake or river) to reach their destination.


Motorboats are allowed on a few lakes within the BWCA. These are found mostly near the boundaries of the BWCA. The motors on the "motor lakes" are limited to a maximum horsepower. The limit is set by each lake and is either 10 HP, 25 HP, or no limit.


With all of the lakes, fishing is a very popular activity. Many people go just to enjoy the great fishing that the Boundary Waters has to offer. The most popular species are walleye, northern pike, smallmouth bass, and lake trout.


There are several hiking trails in the BWCA. Some can be traversed in a day while others, such as the 75-mile Border Route Trail, take several days to complete.


While you can get a day permit to enjoy the Boundary Waters, I believe it can be most appreciated by staying overnight. In the BWCA, you must stay at designated campsites - those that have a firegrate and a latrine.


Native Americans lived in the Boundary Waters area long before Europeans ever knew that this place existed. Those that once lived there left behind traces for us to see. The area has many pictographs (paintings made on rocks) of people, canoes, moose, and other wildlife. The paintings give us a glimpse into what their life was like.


The BWCA abounds with wildlife. You can see loons, ducks, geese, swans, deer, eagles, beavers, bears...the list goes on and on. If you are lucky, and quiet, you may even see a moose. I would also mention that the area has no shortage of insect life, either...


For birder lovers, binoculars or a spotting scope is a must. They also come in handy for potential viewing of the larger wildlife. The birds of BWCA are often overlooked by birders, perhaps in part because of the limited access to the birds' habitat from the lakes and portage trails. However, for those with the patience and interest, it's a birder's delight.

Peace, Solitude, and Relaxation

You can find peace, solitude, and relaxation while canoeing and camping. However, solitude and "relaxation" come with a price. The BWCA is the most visitied wilderness area in the United States. To be able to get away from the crowds, you must be willing to work hard. A trip to the Boundary Waters will probably be the most work you've ever done on a vacation. In my experience, though, there is no feeling that compares to sitting by the fire at the end of the day, relaxing and reflecting on the beauty all around me.

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