Boundary Waters ice fishing for free

ice fishing in the BWCAThis weekend you can go ice fishing for free if you bring along a child younger than 16 years of age. This is a great opportunity to get out at least once during the winter fishing season.

While Josh was home for Christmas break he and a friend went spearing. They set up a dark house but didn’t need a heater since it was warm enough without.  It was early in the season so the ice wasn’t too thick yet. As the ice gets thicker there aren’t too many people who venture into the BWCA to spear since you can’t bring a power auger.  It takes quite a bit of work to hand drill and chip but they made quick work of cutting a spear hole. Their efforts paid off as they were able to spear a few northern pike perfect for a meal.

Josh is back at College and older than 16 years of age so I’ll have to find someone else to take fishing if I want to go for free.

Minnesotans fish free with kids Jan. 18-20

Take proper precautions on the ice

Take a Kid Ice Fishing Weekend is this Saturday, Jan. 18, through Monday, Jan. 20.

During the weekend, Minnesota residents age 16 or older can fish or dark-house spear without an angling or spearing license if they take a child younger than 16 fishing or spearing.

“Ice fishing is a fun way to get outdoors during Minnesota winters,” said Jeff Ledermann, education and skills team supervisor with the Department of Natural Resources. “Ice conditions are highly variable this year. If you want to start, try asking someone familiar with ice fishing and ice conditions to take you out or check out an organized activity.”

Events happening during the weekend include:

Fishing events during the rest of the season can be found on the DNR’s state parks and trails events calendar and the Becoming an Outdoors Woman program, which also has events for families.

Ice conditions vary greatly this season and can be deceiving. There is no such thing as 100 percent safe ice. Always check local ice conditions before heading out to a lake or river. Visit for ice safety guidelines and the DNR’s learn to ice fish page for more information about ice fishing.


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Sauna time at the end of the Gunflint Trail

Sauna Gunflint TrailMatt and Cassidy have been busy this winter turning a bunkhouse into a sauna at Voyageur Canoe Outfitters.  This sauna will be available for guests of Voyageur to use when it’s completed.  It is located across the river and is the first bunkhouse at the top of the hill.  Chipmunk is the name of the bunk but it was originally known as Alpine.

This historic building came from a cabin site on the Minnesota side of Saganaga Lake. All buildings had to be removed in the late 1970’s when the Boundary Waters was being established. Don Enzenauer, the previous owner of Voyageur Canoe Outfitters, took advantage of the opportunity to buy a couple cabins. He purchased Chipmunk/Alpine as well as Bald Eagle(the second bunkhouse up the hill, pictured below). Bald Eagle and a similar sized cabin were located on an island near Sag Falls. Don and his neighbor bought the two cabins for $22. The pair had to dismantle them, transport them back to the end of the Gunflint Trail and rebuild them.  Don originally placed Alpine/Chipmunk in front of where today’s lodge stands and he used it as a home.

When Mike and I bought Voyageur there was a sauna located at the base of the stairs across the river.  We needed employee housing since we were not going to have employees stay in the Black Bear Cabin any longer.  We turned the sauna into employee housing and eventually into a bunkhouse called Pike.

Building is an expensive endeavor, especially at the end of the Gunflint Trail. We have dismantled other buildings in the area to bring to Voyageur in order to save money and resources on our building projects. Don was way ahead of the green movement when it came to reusing things and I guess you could say we followed in his footsteps as we reuse and re-purpose everything we can.

The Finn Who Would Not Take a Sauna by Garrison Keillor

or The Guy Who Came in from the Cold, by Garrison Keillor.



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Canoe Registration for paddling the Boundary Waters

canoeing the bwca There was a time when any canoe being paddled in the Boundary Waters needed to be registered. That has changed for non-residents of Minnesota.

If you’re a Minnesotan who owns a canoe you probably know you need to register your watercraft. Sooner is usually better so you aren’t stuck doing it last minute on the day you want to use it. I say the same thing about purchasing my cross-country ski license each winter. There are even ski licenses you can purchase that are good for three years, just like a watercraft registration.  I’ve found saying and doing are two separate things.

Non-residents of Minnesota in the past had to either have their watercraft registered in their state of residence or register it in Minnesota. That law changed in 2017 so unless you are planning to use your canoe in Minnesota for over 90 days you don’t need to have it registered. BWCA portage

Prior to this change we encouraged our guests who were paddling to the Quetico Park with their out of state canoe to just get a tow boat ride through the BWCA to avoid the registration complication. Now they can paddle across Saganaga in their own canoe without having it registered.  I’d still take the tow boat ride! Find our more about our tow boat service on Saganaga Lake on our website.


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Boundary Waters winter day trip

Boundary Waters ice fishingCassidy, Matt and Bosley ventured into the Boundary Waters for a day trip the other day. The plan was to catch some fish through the ice. The fish didn’t cooperate but Matt and Cassidy did catch some great photos of the BWCA blanketed in snow and ice. Come explore winter on the Gunflint Trail while staying at Voyageur.Boundary Waters lakeBoundary Waters portage snowshoeing in the Boundary Waters

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Gunflint Mail Run Sled Dog Event

Photo Courtesy of Gunflint Mail Run

The annual Gunflint Mail Run Sled Dog Race is happening this weekend on the Gunflint Trail. It’s a continuous race with two legs of equal distance, separated by a mandatory layover.  There’s a 12-dog, 100-mile race and an 8-dog, 65 mile race. This is a great spectator event with viewing available at along the course at road crossings as well a a spectator area at the Old Blankenberg Pit, where the 12-dog teams are turning around. Road crossings, Big Bear Lodge, Rockwood Lodge and especially Trail Center Lodge are other places to catch the excitement.  Races will start at 8 a.m. on Saturday at Trail Center Lodge, and an awards banquet will be held at the lodge at 10 a.m. on Sunday.  Check out who is mushing online and remember to leave your own dogs at home.

If you want to get a really up close and personal view then volunteer! Matt and Cassidy have volunteered the past few years and it’s one of the highlights of their winter. We’ve got room for you to stay at Voyageur!Gunflint Trail mushing


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Snowshoe, Ski or Skijor George Washington Pines

Gunflint Pines SnowshoeLooking for a place on the Gunflint Trail to snowshoe or ski with or without your dog? Head to George Washington Pines which is a groomed, level 2.5 mile loop for both skiing and snowshoeing. It’s a beautiful trail through towering pines and is a perfect loop for beginners.  The hills on the trail are minimal with very little elevation change.

The George Washing Pines trail is one of the busier groomed trails in Cook County due to the close proximity to Grand Marais. You can expect to see other people on the trail and it’s always nice to let them(and their dogs) know you are behind them by announcing yourself.  As with all outings with your four legged friend be sure to pick up after them.

The beautiful pine trees are courtesy of a group of boys from Boy Scout Troop #67 of Grand Marais. In 1932 they planted 32 acres of land with 14,570 Norway Pine and 7,500 White Pine after a fire in 1927.  In 2010 some of the undergrowth was cleaned up to reduce ladder fuels in the area.  Gunflint Pines Snowshoe

To reach George Washington Pines just take the Gunflint Trail out of Grand Marais and drive about 6 miles to the parking lot and trailhead on the left hand side of the road.

cross country skiing gunflint trail

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Cross-Country Skiing on the Gunflint Trail

Tis the season for cross-country skiing and Cook County is the place to do it. We’ve got over 400 kilometers of ski trails to travel located throughout the County. The Gunflint Trail has some of the best cross-country ski trails of varying degrees of difficulty and length.  When you’re staying at Voyageur Canoe Outfitters you’re just a short drive from the trails around Gunflint Lake. These are fun trails through the woods and up on ridges that offer great views and some exciting downhill sections. Whether you’re looking for a quick loop or an all day adventure you can find the perfect route and awesome conditions in Cook County Minnesota.

cross country skiing

How to purchase:

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Darkest Skies at the end of the Gunflint Trail

gunflint trail darkest skiesTilt your head back the next time you are outside at night. What can you see in the sky? The stars and constellations you are able to see will vary depending upon the amount of light pollution around you. When you are at the end of the Gunflint Trail standing on the dock of Voyageur Canoe Outfitters you can see millions of stars in the sky. It’s the perfect place to pick out constellations, view the northern lights and gaze at the milky way. We’re a very special place when it comes to dark skies and this is not just our opinion.

The end of the Gunflint Trail is ranked one on the Bortle scale and that makes us very special. The night skies rank among the darkest on the earth.  The Bortle scale was created by an astronomer, John Bortle, in 2001. It ranks the darkness of locations on a scale of one to nine; nine being inner city skies, one being the darkest. There’s no official entity that ranks locations according to the Bortle scale. Rather each number on the scale corresponds with a set of guidelines which define that ranking based on what you can see in the sky at that level of darkness. The end of the Gunflint meets all the requirements for a Bortle one.  Boundary Waters night sky bortle one

If you’re looking for a place to gaze at the stars, have an opportunity to see the northern lights or just get away from the glow of the city then come visit us at Voyageur. We’ll turn the lights off for you. BWCA dark sky


Gauging Light Pollution: The Bortle Dark-Sky Scale

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Christmas Greetings from the end of the Gunflint Trail

We wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very happy new year!

Gunflint Trail

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Snowshoeing on the Gunflint Trail

Winter is a magical time on the Gunflint Trail. There’s no better way to enjoy the woods and frozen lakes than to snowshoe. Come up and stay with us at Voyageur Canoe Outfitters and find out for yourself.

snowshoeing on the Gunflint Trail


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