Bright Lights in the Boundary Waters

While out canoe camping in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness you don’t expect to see bright lights. That’s what makes camping in a wilderness area all the more fun. However, there are some instances when you might see some unusual lights like the blinking of a firefly, the dancing of the northern lights, the filtered light of a full moon or if you’re really lucky you’ll see a meteor shower.  The end of July the Delta Aquarid shower begins and they usually last well into August when the Perseids begin so if you’re planning a BWCA camping trip for this time of the summer you’re in for a treat.

Here’s some terrific information from SpaceWeather authors Bruce McClure and Deborah Byrd about the Qauariid meteors and Perseids.

Delta Aquariid Meteor Shower- Named  after their apparent “radiant” point in the constellation Aquarius, near one of its brightest stars, Eta Aquarii and caused by Halleys Comet.

When- July 12th to August 23rd

Peak Dates- July 27 & 28th

Best Time- 2AM

Anything Special?  5-10 percent leave tails

How many an hour? 10-20

Radiate From- The radiant point of the Delta Aquariid shower nearly aligns with the star Skat (Delta Aquarii). The meteor shower is named in honor of this star.

Perseids- Named after the constellation Perseus and made of tiny space debris from the comet Swift-Tuttle.

When- July 17th to August 24th

Peak Dates- August 12th & 13th

Best Time- after midnight right before dawn or before the moon rises

Anything Special?  Earthgrazers may be viewed from 9:30-10:30pm as the shower’s radiant climbs over the northeastern horizon. Earthgrazers are slow and colorful.

How many an hour? 60-100

Radiate From- constellation Perseus, near the famous Double Cluster


Watching for Meteor Helpful Hints

Prepare to spend a minimum of an hour beneath a dark sky(it takes 20-40 minutes for your eyes to adjust)

Best viewing is when the moon is new and there are no artificial lights or clouds

Bring a blanket, lawnchair or hammock & find an unobstructed view of the full sky

If you have access to a boat, dock or other watercraft consider lying down out on a lake

Be prepared for bugs with proper clothing, netting or spray

Bring along something to eat or drink

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Posted in BWCA

Voyageur Crew at the Gunflint Trail Canoe Races

The Voyageur Crew competed in the 40th Anniversary of the Gunflint Trail Canoe Races on Wednesday, August 19th. The annual races are a fundraiser for the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department. Each year there are fun canoe races for all ages and abilities, silent and live auctions, a food tent, and more than 100 raffle items. The Voyageur Crew always does an amazing job and comes home with the majority of the medals.




Mixed Forward: 1st Matt and Cass  3rd place Josh and Sarah
Guys Forward: 1st Place Josh & Jack
Ladies Forward:
Mixed Backwards: 2nd Place Matt & Sarah  3rd Place Tristan & Julia
Ladies Backwards: 1st Place Maddy and Abby
Guys Backwards: 1st Place Josh & Austin 3rd Place Alex and Joe
Solo Ladies: 3rd Place Maddy
Solo Guys: 3rd Place Josh
Gunnel Pump Guys: 2nd Place Josh
Gunnel Pump Ladies: 2nd Place Sarah
Mile: 1st Place Matt & Joe



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Posted in Gunflint Trail

This Land is Our Land

A celebration in Ely, Minnesota happening on July 27th!

Enjoy an afternoon paddle & picnic at Moose Lake & Celebrate America’s Public Lands Legacy

Join Ely’s participation in the July 27
“This Land is Our Land” national event

WHEN: Thur July 27, 4:30-6 Canoe Flotilla (canoes/paddles/pdfs provided as needed, no charge)
WHERE: Meet at USFS Moose Lake landing at 4 pm
DINNER: 6-7:00 Northern Tier Scout Base at Moose Lake (no charge)
PROGRAM: 7-7:30 Introduction of the participation organizations and (pending) video greetings from Sen. Al Franken and Sec. of State Rex Tillerson

Hosted by Northern Tier Scout Base
Sponsored by national Conservation Alliance (“outdoor businesses giving back to the outdoors”)

Participants include:
northern MN scouting groups
Hunting, fishing & conservation groups
Ely-area outfitting businesses, camps & resorts
Wilderness Inquiry
YMCA camps
Voyageur Outward Board School
Ely Folk School
North American Bear Center
International Wolf Center
VCC, UMD & UWS outdoor program students

YOU & other Ely residents, visitors vacationers, please join us!

Posted in environment

All Aboard for a trip to Chik-Wauk Museum

There’s a special presentation happening today at Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center. Dave Battistel has spent years exploring and documenting the history of the railroad around the Gunflint Trail and north.  You’re sure to enjoy his presentation but if you can’t make it then check out his YouTube Channel.

Gunflint & Lake Superior Railroad: Logging the Boundary Waters at the Turn of the Century by Dave Battistel Sunday Afternoon Special Presentation

This is the story of a Wisconsin logging company, headquartered in Thunder Bay, who incorporated and built a railroad in Minnesota to harvest timber, and in the process created one of the most unique logging operations in North America. The railroad had no American terminus or connection; its only access was through Canada. The logs cut in Minnesota were transported to Port Arthur to be processed into lumber and were shipped to a burgeoning construction market in Canada and the United States.

All presentations are family friendly and free to the public, they will be held inside the Chik-Wauk Nature Center. Donations are appreciated.

Check out for the full schedule for Sunday afternoon presentations.
Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center is located 54 miles up the Gunflint Trail turn right on to Moose Pond Drive.

Be sure to budget enough time to explore the network of nature trails crisscrossing Chik-Wauk’s 50-acre grounds located on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy at one of the museum’s many picnic benches and stay all day!

 July 23, 2017
02:00PM – 03:15PM
Presentations are free to the public, donations are appreciated
Event Website
Posted by: Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center

Posted in Gunflint Trail

Paddle the Boundary Waters

Do you have a canoe camping trip in the BWCA planned? Here’s a way to get get a stipend for meals while you’re out in the Boundary Waters.  Sign up online at the Northwoods Volunteer Connection website.

Why monitor visitor use?

Many visitors to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) seek a place separated from the modern world within the 1 million acres of undeveloped forest and water, where they can gain a sense of solitude and connect with nature. With more than 150,000 annual visitors, the chance of encountering another person is likely in the more popular areas of the BWCAW and in some cases this can change the dynamics of a wilderness trip.

In an effort to better understand the use that is occurring in the Wilderness, visitor use monitoring is conducted every year. This activity helps the US Forest Service to determine the opportunities for solitude or likelihood of encountering other people within the BWCAW.

Those individuals participating in this program travel a route on a specific date to conduct monitoring. Volunteers will spend part of the time monitoring use from a campsite and while travelling.

Monitoring Dates and Locations

Please fill out an interest form below and indicate your preference of dates and/or location.

LaCroix Ranger District

07/05/17    Trout Lake
07/30/17    Lady Boot to Boulder Bay of Lac La Croix
08/09/17    Slim Lake
08/11/17    Shell Lake
08/25/17    Lake Agnes
08/29/17    Eugene, Beartrack, Takucmich Lakes
09/15/17    Iron Lake
09/24/17    Hustler-Oyster Lakes

 Tofte/Gunflint Ranger Districts

07/04/17    Tuscarora
07/22/17    Long Island
09/18/17    Kawishiwi to Malberg
09/21/17    Long Island

Kawishiwi Ranger District (Ely)

07/18/17    Gabbro/Bald Eagle
07/21/17    West Knife
08/03/17    Ima Lake
08/28/17    Basswood River
09/19/17    Knife Lake

What is expected of Visitor Use Monitoring volunteers?

  • Be self-sufficient in the BWCAW.
  • Provide the gear needed to travel and camp in the BWCAW or rent through an outfitter.
  • Work in groups of two.
  • Perform monitoring activities for 8 hours on the day(s) indicated in the designated location.
  • Follow monitoring protocol.
  • Perform daily check-ins
  • Follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles.


Daily Schedule for Visitor Use Monitoring Volunteers

  • AM – Spend 2 hours in camp documenting any people you heard or see at campsites or on the water.
  • Travel the designated route (either around the lake you are camped on or to one or more adjacent lakes) documenting any people you see or hear.
  •  PM – Spend 2 hours in camp documenting any people you heard or see at campsites or on the water.

The Perks

Volunteers receive…

  • A waived entry permit fee (for groups with only two people).
  • Food reimbursements of $25/day
  • Some camping equipment may be available for use from the Northwoods Volunteer Connection depending on the timing of monitoring trips.

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Posted in BWCA

Biggest Blueberry on the Gunflint Trail

There’s a contest this summer on the Gunflint Trail and it involves one of my favorite passtimes- picking blueberries. While the berries are starting to turn blue there are still way more green berries on the bushes than there are blue ones. It’s this time of the year I cringe to see anyone out picking because I fear they are damaging the green berries for future pickers. If we wait a little while longer then more of the berries will be blue and it will be worth picking.

If you just can’t wait to get out there and you find yourself in the posession of a big blueberry then head on over to an official blueberry weighing station. Not sure how Voyageur Canoe Outfitters missed out on the opportunity to be one of the stations but we do have one nearby at Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center.

Good Luck and happy picking!

blueberry picking on the Gunflint Trail


Biggest Blueberry Contest – Gunflint Trail

Occurs all day every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from Friday, July 21, 2017 – Saturday, August 12, 2017

Gunflint Trail, MN

Can you find the BIGGEST blueberry of the season? The 1st annual Biggest Blueberry Contest will be held on the Gunflint Trail from Friday July 21- Saturday August 12. Blueberries will be measured by weight and must be picked fresh and not store bought. Even if you don’t have a heavy blueberry, we still encourage you to enter as you could win a prize through our randomly selected drawing.

The three rounds of Blueberry contests will be

  • Friday July 21 – Saturday July 29 with prize drawings on July 29
  • Friday July 28 – Saturday August 5 with prize drawings on August 5
  • Friday August 4 – Saturday August 12 with prize drawings on August 12

Look for an official Gunflint Trail weigh station to submit your blueberry! Weigh stations are Hungry Jack Outfitters, Nor’Wester Lodge, Rockwood Lodge, Golden Eagle Lodge, Tuscarora Lodge, Gunflint Lodge, Chik-Wauk Museum & Nature Center, Way of the Wilderness or Bearskin Lodge.

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Posted in Gunflint Trail

Christmas in July on the Gunflint Trail

I’m not sure when our tradition started but every July the Voyageur Canoe Outfitter Crew celebrates Christmas. One of the best parts of our celebration is dining at Loon Lake Lodge. It’s such a beautiful place with the log lodge right on the lake and they do a terrific job of preparing food for us. This year they even had Christmas music playing for us!

The tradition includes making a gift for your Secret Santa. It’s so neat to see how creative our crew is. This year was no exception and everyone loved their gifts. Rachel made a video for me that I’ll have to share with you at a later date because she hasn’t emailed it to me yet.  There were homemade candles, oils, doilies, hat racks, lamp shades and much more.

A big thanks to Loon Lake Lodge for being a part of our Christmas in July.

Voyageur celebrates at Loon Lake Lodge

Posted in Gunflint Trail

Boundary Waters Canoe Trip Video

Brock Johnson provided us with a link to his youtube video of his BWCA canoe trip with Voyageur Canoe Outfitters. It’s filled with great Boundary Waters scenery and we knew you would enjoy watching it. Thanks for sharing Brock!  Check out his other videos at

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Posted in BWCA

Moose Moment on the Gunflint Trail

We were visiting Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center yesterday when all of a sudden the woman working the desk said, “There’s a bull moose at the end of the road.” Everyone stopped what they were doing, hurried to their cars and took off to see if they could find it. I looked at my watch and it was after 5pm so I made the comment, “That’s one way to get everyone out the door so you can close shop.” My daughter was with me and thought it was just her way of telling everyone to leave so she was delighted when we pulled out of the driveway and spotted a bull moose in the pond.  Everyone who had been at the museum was parked alongside the road and taking photos of the moose as he dipped his head into the water to find submerged plants and get a slurp or two of water.

Gotta love moose moments on the Gunflint Trail.

gunflint moose

Moose on the Gunflint Trail


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Posted in Gunflint Trail

Extraordinary Elsa

We are so lucky to have Elsa at Voyageur for another summer. She runs the kitchen and makes sure everyone keeps running by providing fuel in the form of food. I think this is her 8th season as our Chief Cook, Bottle Washer, Baker, Server, Sewing Repair Person, Housekeeper and anything else we ask her to do.

She’s in charge of everything food related at Voyageur. She prepares three meals a day for our crew as well as the pancake breakfasts for our guests. She makes our legendary Hudson Bay Bars, Voyageur Cookies and Gorp.

Most importantly she’s my blueberry picking buddy. We spend countless hours scouring the earth for little blue berries. We are like the postal service rain or shine we pick on. Bugs? What bugs? That’s part of the fun and so is the excessive heat we’ve encountered while picking too.

There is only one Elsa and we hope to hold onto her forever!

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