Boundary Waters Blog

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Updated: 5 hours 5 min ago

Storms in the BWCA- Be Prepared

7 hours 53 min ago

In a recent blog I wrote about the severe storms we experienced in the BWCA earlier in the month.  What I didn’t mention is they left me a little bit scared. It’s natural to have a little fear for oneself but what I worry about even more are those I love and of course my kids, family and Sheri Prom are high on that list.

Well, two of those people on my list left for a canoe camping trip into the Boundary Waters on Monday. We haven’t had any big storms since they have been out but believe me, before they left I gave a lot of advice about what to do in case of a bad storm. We’ve also had some of our guests asking about what they should do in case of bad weather so I thought I would offer up my advice. I’m not an expert and I suggest reading up on what to do in case of severe weather but here’s what I know.

  • Keep an eye on the weather and either bring along a radio or learn how to read clouds.
  • I’ve heard that if you can hear thunder then you can get struck by lightning. The last place you want to be is out in the open water in an aluminum canoe or boat.  If thunder is booming then get off of the lake and onto land.
  • Choose as safe of a tent site as possible. It’s nearly impossible to not set your tent up beneath trees or on top of roots when you’re camping in the Boundary Waters. Do your best to camp away from dead trees or trees that may have dead branches.
  • We’ve sat out many of storms in our tents but I’m not sure I’m going to do that in the future. If it’s super windy and lightning out the best bet would be to get out of your tent and find an open spot(not on sand because it conducts electricity) preferably in a ravine or ditch so you are lower than the surrounding land. If you can’t find an open area or ravine then a grove of shorter trees is better than beneath taller trees.
  • Squat down on top of a life jacket or sleeping pad with only the balls of your feet touching the ground and with your heels touching. Place your hands on your knees(or over your ears) and put your head down and get yourself into as small of a target as possible. You should be at least 100 feet from the nearest person.

Hopefully just knowing what to do in case of a severe storm in the BWCA is enough so that it will never happen to you. But if it does then remember the tips above and be prepared so you can weather the storm.

Happy Campers heading into the Boundary Waters

Ready for the BWCA

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Voyageur Crew Profiles- Rachel & Alex

Thu, 06/30/2016 - 6:08am

I don’t normally combine employees for their crew profiles but since Alex and Rachel came to us as a pair I thought it would be OK. Rachel is a friend of Cassidy who has been at Voyageur since last November so she came with high recommendations.

Rachel is from Eau Claire, Wisconsin and is not attending school at this time. On my employee questionnaire I ask the questions, school currently attending and what year are you in? Rachel had a clever answer and replied that she had attended UMD and her current year is the year of when she doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life.  I didn’t tell her that I rarely know what I want to do with my life or that I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.  She at least knows she might like to be a coffee shop owner someday or design magazine or album covers. Do they still make albums?

Rachel spends a lot of time at Voyageur making things look nicer. She has done the majority of the gardening, weeding and planting of flowers and she’s made a bunch of neat signs. When she’s not working she likes hiking and listening to music. The lake Rachel wants to visit most is Lake of the Clouds and her favorite piece of camping gear is her purple Spork. She is looking forward to exploring the wilderness, more paddle boarding, seeing the northern lights and watching the leaves change colors this fall.

Alex is from Apple Valley and is currently in his 26th year! Not of school but of life I’m guessing. When he grows up he wants to be an older version of his self.  Another clever answer that should be easily accomplished.

Alex spends his time at Voyageur transporting guests by tow boat and/or by vehicle. He also works on projects, cleans and keeps everything lighthearted.  He is looking forward to learning more about the area and visiting Grandpa or Meditation Lake. His favorite piece of camping equipment is his Eagle’s Nest Hammock.

We’re looking forward to having both of them around throughout the rest of the summer.

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Do I Need to Register My Canoe to Paddle in the BWCA?

Wed, 06/29/2016 - 6:01am

Did you know you must have current registration on your canoe in order to paddle it in Minnesota? Some states do not require canoes to be registered but if you want to paddle it in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness it must be registered.

In order to be in compliance you can choose from a couple of options.  The easiest and most beneficial to us would be to rent a canoe from us. Another option would be to borrow a canoe with current registration from a friend.  You can always choose to register your canoe in your state even if your state does not require registration, it usually isn’t too expensive, $11 in Wisconsin.

You can register your canoe in Minnesota at an office of registrar, there’s even one in Grand Marais. If it’s a watercraft renewal then you can process it online or in person at a registrar office.  It’s a little more expensive to register a canoe in Minnesota because we tack on a $5 Aquatic Invasive Species fee as well as a renewal fee.  The base price is $10.50 for a canoe and you can find the rates online.

Whatever you do, plan a trip to the Boundary Waters and visit us at Voyageur. We are always happy to help you.

Canoe Registration


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Now You See Moose Now You Don’t?

Tue, 06/28/2016 - 6:06am

Somehow I missed something earlier this month regarding our moose population. It turns out a petition sent to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last year has them investigating whether or not our moose should be placed on the Endangered Species List.

The rapid population decline has everyone worried about the moose population. Studies have determined a number of contributing causes for the decline including winter ticks, brain worm and wolves. Placing the moose on the list would mean more money for research and no more hunting of moose. Apparently the Minnesota DNR hasn’t given their approval or disapproval of the potential listing of the moose.

According to one article I read a decision won’t be made quickly.  “That decision is potentially years away.  The Fish and Wildlife Service has a backlog of about 500 other species in the same position as Minnesota’s moose–species awaiting a full status review by the agency to determine whether endangered species act protection is warranted.”

My guess is by that time the moose will have either recovered on their own or will be on the verge of disappearing on the Gunflint Trail.  What’s that saying? “A little too little a little too late.” Let’s hope our moose make a full and quick recovery on the Gunflint Trail.


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Sunrises and Sunsets

Mon, 06/27/2016 - 8:53pm

Tony has been sharing some of his photos with me and I’d love to share them with you. This morning he woke up to a rainbow over the Seagull River. Thanks for sharing Tony!

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Canoe, Camp & Work in the BWCA

Sun, 06/26/2016 - 8:57pm

Here’s an opportunity to volunteer and take a trip into the Boundary Waters.  Sounds like a great deal to me!

The Northwoods Volunteer Connection is seeking volunteers to help with a  portage repair project in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness July 13-17.

Space is still available, but is limited to six volunteers for this project.

Food and most of the equipment needed will be provided.

Participants will help restore a popular Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness portage (Lizz to Caribou Portage) by installing log and rock water bars and check dams, and by reshaping soil, planting rocks and logs. These projects will reduce erosion and create a more sustainable tread.

Volunteers will travel by canoe to Caribou Lake to camp and will commute by canoe to the work site daily. The cost to participate is $50 per adult, $25 for students.

Interested? Contact Laurel at (218) 663-8606 or to register.


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Stormy Weather

Sat, 06/25/2016 - 7:23pm

Is it global warming that is producing stormy weather? I have no clue but I do know I now dislike storms. The USFS issued this statement regarding campsites to the east of the Gunflint Trail near the Canadian Border.

Wilderness Storm Damage Submitted by usfs on Thu, 06/23/2016 – 1:20pm On June 19, 2016, areas of Northern Minnesota experienced a severe thunderstorm with rain and high winds.   The Forest Service is temporarily closing several BWCAW wilderness campsites up the Gunflint Trail on South and Duncan Lakes.

Areas in the BWCAW that were hit hardest from the storm have suffered damage to latrines, latrine trails, portages and the general campsite area with uprooted and broken trees; making it impossible to camp and very difficult to travel in some areas.   The Forest Service has crews working to assess damage and are busy clearing portages and campsites.  Not all areas have impact from the storm.   From initial reports, most damage occurred along the Canadian Border to the east of the Gunflint Trail.

Campers should plan ahead and find campsites early in the day if possible, just in case you need to travel further than expected to find a suitable site.  When you select your site look for damaged trees and overhead hazards, as we have not yet been able to visit every site.  Visitors should also remember this is a wilderness area and they should take extra time to discuss what they should do in the event of a thunderstorm.   If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call the Gunflint Ranger District at 218-387-1750.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider employer and lender.

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Fun in the Summer Sun

Fri, 06/24/2016 - 4:30pm

The temperature jumped up into the 80’s the past couple of days and it’s been delightful. The kids have been out enjoying the beautiful weather on the river in kayaks and paddleboards. They have even been swimming and not just a quick dip, but a swim across the river. Campers are happy and our resort guests too. It’s a wonderful time to be at Voyageur!

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Chik-Wauk’s New Nature Center

Thu, 06/23/2016 - 6:03am

If you haven’t made it up to Chik-Wauk Museum lately then you’ll for sure want to make a trip up on the 3rd of July. There will be a grand opening celebration for the new Nature Center and no admission will be charged.  There will be hourly informational presentations on the nature center patio by Chik-Wauk’s Naturalist, Jacqueline Mallinson and Keith Morris. There will also be kid’s activities in the Nature Center and on the trails.

The temporary exhibit for this season is about birds.  You can learn to recognize birds and the sounds they make.  You can also check out the nesting pair of loons on the platform in the bay and hike the many trails.  birds make.

Be sure to come visit us at Voyageur too. We’ve got cold beverages, great clothing and daily canoe rentals if you’d like to take a paddle in the BWCA. You could even rent a canoe and paddle over to Chik-Wauk for the day.  Whether it’s July 3rd or any day take a trip up to the end of the Gunflint Trail and visit us and Chik-Wauk.


Photos provided by Chik-Wauk



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Come Stay at the end of the Gunflint Trail

Wed, 06/22/2016 - 6:50am

Our Riverside Cabin on the Seagull River is open and waiting for you. It has a gorgeous view, a nice deck and a private dock. It’s comfortable and quiet and a last minute cancellation made it available for you to enjoy from now until July 2nd.

We would hate to see it sit open so we’re offering it for just $250. Not $250 a night, just $250 total. You can come today and stay until the 1st of July for just $250.  How is that for a deal? There’s a full kitchen, living room, bathroom, two bedrooms and we provide towels, linens, blankets and pillows. You can rent a boat and explore Saganaga, take a canoe and visit the Palisades on Seagull, walk over to Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center or hike any of the nearby hiking trails. Or just sit back and relax.

We would love to have you as our guest so give us a call and book your stay today. 218-388-2224.

Seagull River at Voyageur Canoe Outfitters

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Severe Storm in the BWCA

Tue, 06/21/2016 - 6:55am

Sunday night a powerful storm moved through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Heavy rain, wind gusts over 40 miles per hour and lightning strikes pummeled our area of the BWCA accessed from the Gunflint Trail for over an hour.  Branches and trees toppled over and unfortunately this left one man dead, a boy severely injured and another person suffered injuries as well.

We heard the news this morning at breakfast. A couple of our crew were at Hungry Jack Lodge last night where search and rescue team members were present. The news of a death and injury traveled fast especially since one of our crew members and her mom were camping on nearby Rose Lake.  We were all very concerned until we discovered it was a man who had been killed on Duncan Lake and a younger boy, possibly his son had been severely injured, potentially two broken legs and a broken pelvis.

When our crew member and her mom returned to Voyageur they informed us they had actually camped on Duncan Lake. During the raging storm they heard someone screaming for help but knew they would be of no help if they were to attempt to paddle in the wind, waves and lightning.  A helpless feeling but better than creating another emergency situation where rescuers would be needed.

The boy was rescued from the campsite and taken by ambulance to Cook County Hospital and then transported by helicopter to Duluth. According to an online article the boy was in critical condition as of 3pm on Monday.  There was another man and boy at the campsite who were not injured.  According to another article, the man who died was 43 year-old Craig Walz, a teacher from Rochester, Minnesota.

Another man was injured while camping on Clove Lake on the Granite River. A tree struck him as well and search and rescue paddled and portaged in to help transport him out of the Boundary Waters.

What a scary experience for everyone involved. We’re thankful more people weren’t injured including those involved in the search and rescue. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all.

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Sunset on Saganaga

Mon, 06/20/2016 - 6:12am

The crew was out for a night of fishing and caught some wonderful photos of the sunset.

Saganaga Sunset

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Water Temperatures Warming Up in the BWCA

Sun, 06/19/2016 - 6:06am

All it takes are a few days of sunshine and the lake water warms up quickly. I should rephrase that, the shallower smaller lakes warm up quickly, the bigger, deeper lakes take a little bit longer.  On a calm day the surface temperatures are inviting while the deeper water remains much cooler.

The water temperature on Saganaga usually doesn’t get into the 70’s. Some smaller lakes in the BWCA will get into the 70’s but the average temperatures are in the upper 60’s.  This isn’t warm when compared to a swimming pool because the average pool temperature is in the 80’s.  Shallow lakes in other parts of the state might get that warm but not up here.

Then there’s Lake Superior that is so big and so deep that we rarely swim in it. Every once in awhile we’ll be brave and go for a dip near Grand Marais but it’s never for a long swim. As you can see from the maps below the temperature of the water is quite frigid. The good news is, it is warming up.

We have to make the most of the opportunity to go swimming because before we know it the water temperatures will begin a downward fall.

water temperatures of Lake Superior


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Quetico Park Canoe Trip

Sat, 06/18/2016 - 7:56am

Our guest Fred Shermock shared these photos from his Quetico Park trip last summer so we thought we’d share them with you. Makes me want to paddle the Falls Chain in the Quetico, how about you? There are permits available and we’d love to help you plan your trip so give us a call, 218-388-2224.

Quetico Park photos from Fred Shermock


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Changing Hands on the Gunflint Trail

Fri, 06/17/2016 - 12:38pm

When Mike and I purchased Voyageur Canoe Outfitters in 1993 we were known as the New Kids on the Block. Twenty odd years later we are no longer new and we are no longer kids. It used to be businesses on the Gunflint Trail remained in the family and didn’t change over often if ever but things are different these days and there are a number of new faces on the Gunflint Trail.

I don’t have time to go through all of the turnovers and sales today but I’ll give a quick rundown and talk more about them in a different blog.  Gunflint Lodge was in the news back in December for selling out but that sale fell through. Now another buyer is about to seal the deal, if they haven’t already. A lodge that has been in the Kerfoot family for years will no longer be and the new owners are ready to take over.

I don’t know how old the new owners of Rockwood Lodge are but they took over last November so they are technically on their first summer.  There are new owners at Loon Lake Lodge and the new owners of Tuscarora are now in their second season of outfitting canoe trips into the BWCA. Big Bear Lodge has replaced Old Northwoods Lodge at mid-Gunflint Trail and the name change was brought along by the new owners there. I think they have been there for a couple of years now.

There are still a couple of long lasting family businesses on the Gunflint Trail including Trout Lake Resort and Norwester Resort. Both have been around a long time and are celebrating milestones. More about that later too.


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