Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW)

Boundary Waters Canoe Area

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) is a 1,100,000-acre designated wilderness area in Northern Minnesota that is contained within the Superior National Forest. It is a popular destination for canoeing, fishing, hiking, and exploring the natural, untouched beauty of Northern Minnesota.

Here are some fun facts about the BWCAW:
  • It has approximately 1,175 lakes
  • It receives over 250,000 visitors annually
  • It has over 1,500 miles of canoe routes
  • It boasts the highest point in Minnesota at 2,301 feet (Eagle Mountain)
  • It was named one of National Geographic’s “50 Places of a Lifetime”
  • It was home to the Paleo-Indian culture 10,000-12,000 years ago
  • It contains about 400,000 acres of old growth forest that has never been logged
  • It was previously home to Woodland Caribou, but predators, deer encroachment, and parasites led to their disappearance
  • It is home to 2.7 billion year old rock, making it some of the oldest rock found in the world
In 1978 the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Act, signed by President Jimmy Carter, added 50,000 acres to the area and banned logging, mineral prospecting, and mining. It also limited the number of motorized lakes and use of motorized vehicles (except snowmobiles) in the area.

The historic Gunflint Trail runs into the BWCAW allowing access to several of the wilderness entry points from the Cook County area. The Gunflint also allows for easy day-trip access for North Shore visitors wanting to see some of the beauty the area has to offer, without having to rent a canoe.