How to visit Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area, Minnesota

That the Minnesota Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) is one of the most spectacular locations in a continent filled with them is not the question. Sharing a 150-mile border with Canada in northern Minnesota, it spans more than a million acres filled with 1,100 lakes and 1,200 miles of canoe and kayak routes. Its abundant wildlife, from moose to dam-building beavers, can be seen in its pristine forests and clear lakes, which themselves teem with fish, while multiple bird species fly overhead.

So, no, the question isn’t whether to add the BWCAW to your bucket list. The question, rather, is how to tackle this immense, and immensely beautiful, place. The good news is that, despite its remote location, Boundary Waters can be enjoyed by even first-time paddlers.

What is Boundary Waters

Photo: Dan Thornberg/Shutterstock

Part of the Superior National Forest and managed by the National Forest Service, the BWCAW — or B-dub, as locals call it — area contains vast forests of pine, fir, and spruce trees, untouched by development. It’s been shaped over millennia by glaciers that have carved up its landscapes, leaving over a thousand lakes that cover one-fifth of the area.

The BWCAW has