Boundary Waters permit reservation news

There has been a flurry of emails along with all of the snow flurries we have been experiencing in the northland. The emails are about what is going on with the permit reservation system for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness or maybe most importantly what isn’t happening.

The first thing not happening is the reserving of BWCA camping permits. After the system failed it was shut down and all permit reservations that had been made have since been cancelled. The other thing not happening is communication with outfitters located anywhere but in Ely, Minnesota. Some folks from the USFS, representatives from Senator Klobuchar’s office, Representative from Congressman Pete Stauber’s office, the contractors that run the permitting system and a large handful of outfitters in Ely had a meeting to work through issues with the reservation system. Apparently the opinions and ideas of outfitters located elsewhere including the Gunflint Trail are not needed nor wanted.

Gunflint Trail outfitters

Enjoying the BWCA

What is happening, besides secret meetings, is a public meeting everyone is invited to. It shouldn’t be a surprise the meeting will be held in Ely, MN. Congressman Pete Stauber will host a forum at the Grand Ely Lodge on Saturday, February 9th at 10am due to the large number of people who expressed their concern over the BWCA reservation system crash.  Are other meetings happening? Most likely but none that we have been invited to. I guess we shouldn’t feel bad since it doesn’t sound like any of our local USFS people are involved in the meetings either. Here’s what they sent to Gunflint Ranger District outfitters…

Hello Gunflint Cooperators:

I greatly appreciate your patience as the issues with the site are being worked out.  That work still continues today.  Below is an update that went to all the cooperators on the Ely side of the BW.  Two main take-aways is this:

The Go-Live for will happen sometime AFTER February 19; and
There will be trainings for cooperators coming soon.  We do not know in what format that will happen, so stay tuned.

So, it looks like it will be awhile longer before we start reserving permits for Boundary Waters Canoe trips, we’ll do our best to keep you posted.

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Posted in BWCA

Boundary Waters Permit Information

At long last, a Press Release from the USFS regarding the BWCA permit reservation system…


“The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, located on the Superior National Forest in Minnesota, opened a quota permit sale to the public on Wednesday, January 30 on As a result of unforeseen technical issues, unrelated to volume of users, many people were unable to access the reservation process, resulting in only a small number of people receiving access to apply for a permit. For this reason, the USDA Forest Service halted the process for applying for BWCAW permits, and is withdrawing the reservations that initially were processed. We will be providing refunds for any cancellations made.

The USDA Forest Service deeply regrets this inconvenience to everyone, and we encourage people to apply again. Our goal is to provide a fair and open opportunity for visitors to experience this special location. We are urgently working with to fix the technical issue.  Under the new system, customers can simultaneously apply for and secure a reservation for a permit, so that our visitors have ample time to plan their quality experience in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

We will soon name a new date for reservations requests in the BWCAW permit system. We will provide advanced notice of this date to ensure customers have ample time to make their reservations.  Full details on the reservation process are located at”

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Posted in BWCA

Boundary Waters Permit System, FROZEN?

We’re blaming the Polar Vortex on a number of things going on right now so we may as well blame the epic failure of the BWCA permit reservation system on it too. It’s really not a funny situation but sometimes you just have to laugh. Every Boundary Waters Canoe Outfitting Company has to work closely with the USFS in a number of ways. It can often be a very frustrating relationship especially since Forest Rangers and Supervisors come and go every couple of years. Promises made in 1993 aren’t remembered, round table resolutions in 2001 are long forgotten, “gentleman” agreements in 2008 are over a decade old and in 2019 there probably isn’t a person left in the Grand Marais USFS office that could identify all of the business “cooperators” on the Gunflint Trail.  Yes, since 1993 we’ve seen the reservation system change from something as simple as making a phone call to Ely to reserve a permit to something that crashes a computer system in less than an hour.

I would like to say I’ve been sent a statement or an announcement from the USFS about what is going on with the permit system and when we’ll be able to reserve permits. But as a BWCA Cooperator for over 20 years I’ve yet to be contacted. According to the Superior National Forest Website nothing is wrong and Reserve America says to just keep checking back for status updates. We’ll let you know if and when we hear something.

  • Due to technical difficulties, reservations for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness are closed. We are diligently working to correct the problem. Please check back for status updates. We will give advanced notification of at least 48 hours or more prior to the system going live.

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Posted in BWCA

BWCA Permit System FAILURE


Boundary Waters permit

Boundary Waters Canoe Area

The Boundary Waters permit reservation system went live this morning only to crash shortly after. Anyone who reserved a permit will have their permit thrown back into the pool and will have to re-reserve their permit. The work of outfitters reserving permits for guests will also have to be re-done. It doesn’t come as a big surprise but it is a disappointment nonetheless. We’ll let you know when they attempt to go live again.

A note from the USFS

All – I spoke with the Forest Supervisor. We will reverse all internal and external transactions of course for fairness and close BWCAW reservations until further notice. A banner will show up shortly on the site. Our public affairs is speaking with media.

Again, the Forest has done everything asked of us the last 14 months. We don’t know why this happened, but we will keep you updated as we are updated. All previous tests the last few months pointed to success for today.

We are sick over it as well. A ton of work has gone into this; including working through furlough. We’ve done all we can to prepare and follow national direction.

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Posted in BWCA

COLD Temperatures on the Gunflint Trail

And the forecast calls for more cold temperatures this whole week. Stay warm!
Tabular Listing: January 26, 2019 – 14:46 through January 27, 2019 – 14:46 CST

Time(CST) Temperature Dew Wet Bulb Relative Wind Wind Wind Quality Solar Precipitation Fuel Fuel Battery
Point Temperature Humidity Speed Gust Direction check Radiation accumulated Temperature Moisture voltage
° F ° F ° F %  mph  mph  W/m*m  in ° F  gm  volt
14:04 -7.0 -27.9 -8.8 34 1 5 NE OK 125.0 0.24 6.0 27 15.10
13:04 -8.0 -28.3 -9.7 35 1 6 N OK 151.0 0.24 5.0 27 15.20
12:04 -12.0 -28.1 -13.3 43 3 8 WNW OK 152.0 0.24 3.0 27
11:04 -16.0 -31.0 -17.0 45 2 7 SSW OK 136.0 0.24 2.0 27
10:04 -17.0 -30.0 -17.9 50 1 4 SW Caution 105.0 0.24 1.0 27 15.80
9:04 -31.0 -41.8 -31.4 54 0 2 Caution 48.0 0.24 0.0 27
8:04 -46.0 -56.8 -46.2 51 0 0 Caution 1.0 0.24 0.0 27 12.80
7:04 -46.0 -56.5 -46.2 52 0 1 Caution 0.0 0.24 1.0 27 12.70
6:04 -44.0 -54.3 -44.2 53 0 2 Caution 0.0 0.24 2.0 27 12.80
5:04 -43.0 -53.1 -43.2 54 0 3 OK 0.0 0.24 2.0 27 12.90
4:04 -43.0 -53.4 -43.2 53 0 1 OK 0.0 0.24 3.0 27 13.00
3:04 -41.0 -51.2 -41.2 54 0 2 OK 0.0 0.24 4.0 27 13.10
2:04 -40.0 -49.7 -40.2 56 0 2 OK 0.0 0.24 5.0 27 13.20
1:04 -37.0 -46.2 -37.3 58 1 3 SW OK 0.0 0.24 6.0 27 13.30
0:04 -33.0 -41.6 -33.3 61 0 3 OK 0.0 0.24 7.0 27 13.40
23:04 -27.0 -35.3 -27.4 63 1 5 WSW OK 0.0 0.24 9.0 27 13.50
22:04 -21.0 -29.9 -21.6 62 3 10 NW OK 0.0 0.24 10.0 27 13.70
21:04 -20.0 -27.2 -20.5 68 2 7 NNW OK 0.0 0.24 10.0 28 13.80
20:04 -16.0 -24.5 -16.7 64 4 11 NW OK 0.0 0.24 11.0 27 13.90
19:04 -15.0 -23.3 -15.7 65 3 10 NW OK 0.0 0.24 12.0 27 14.00
18:04 -12.0 -21.0 -12.8 63 5 12 NW OK 0.0 0.24 12.0 27 14.20
17:04 -10.0 -18.8 -10.9 64 4 15 NW OK 11.0 0.24 12.0 27 14.30
16:04 -5.0 -17.7 -6.4 53 6 16 NW OK 44.0 0.24 12.0 27 15.40
15:04 -4.0 -14.7 -5.3 59 6 14 WNW OK 63.0 0.24 11.0 27 15.10
14:04 -2.0 -14.9 -3.6 53 6 13 W OK 110.0 0.24 11.0 27 15.40


This Afternoon: A chance of flurries after 5pm. Mostly sunny and cold, with a high near -10. Wind chill values between -20 and -30. Calm wind becoming east around 5 mph.

Chance  Flurries   High: -10 °F

Tonight: A slight chance of snow before 11pm, then a chance of flurries between 11pm and 2am. Partly cloudy, with a low around -25. Wind chill values between -40 and -45. East wind 5 to 10 mph, with gusts as high as 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Slight Chance Snow then party cloudy  Low: -25 °F

Monday: A chance of flurries after 5pm. Mostly sunny and cold, with a high near 1. Wind chill values between -35 and -45. Northeast wind 5 to 10 mph, with gusts as high as 15 mph.

Chance  Flurries  High: 1 °F

Monday Night: A 40 percent chance of snow. Mostly cloudy, with a low around -20. Wind chill values between -25 and -35. Northeast wind 5 to 10 mph becoming northwest after midnight. Winds could gust as high as 15 mph.

Chance Snow  Low: -20 °F

Tuesday: A 20 percent chance of snow showers. Mostly cloudy and cold, with a high near -11. Blustery, with a northwest wind 10 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph.

Slight Chance   Snow Showers and Blustery  High: -11 °F

Tuesday Night: A slight chance of snow showers before midnight, then a chance of flurries after midnight. Mostly cloudy, with a low around -26. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Slight Chance  Snow Showers then Mostly Cloudy Low: -26 °F

Wednesday: Mostly cloudy and cold, with a high near -12. Blustery.

Cold and  Blustery High: -12 °F

Wednesday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around -31.

Mostly Cloudy  Low: -31 °F

Thursday: Sunny and cold, with a high near -7.

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Posted in Gunflint Trail

BWCA Canoe Trip Outfitting Video

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Posted in BWCA

50% more snow than normal, use salt sparingly

Snow removal companies in our neck of the woods are in good spirits thanks to all of the snow we have received. On the North Shore and Gunflint Trail our snowiest months are February and March but we’re already at 50% more snowfall than normal(average winter snowfall is around 91.5″).

Snow totals to date as compared to last year at this time (Oct. – Jan. 10):

                                                2017/18          2018/19          % increase

Lutsen Mountains:                  39”                  59.5”               +52%

Central Gunflint Trail:             25.25”             68.53”             +85%

Upper Gunflint Trail:               33.5”               42”                  +25%

Hopefully that doesn’t equate to that much more salt people are putting on the ground and into our water.  Salt contains Chloride which is harmful to fish and other aquatic wildlife. Here’s some information from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency about how to use salt sparingly to protect our waters.

  • Scatter patterns

    Though no environmentally safe, effective, and inexpensive alternatives to salt are yet available, smart salting strategies can help reduce chloride pollution in state waters. You might think more salt means more melting and safer conditions, but it’s not true! Salt will effectively remove snow and ice if it’s scattered so that the salt grains are about three inches apart (see this illustration for a visual reference. If you publish the graphic, credit the Regional Stormwater Protection Team). A coffee mug full of salt (about 12 ounces) is all you need for a 20-foot driveway or 10 sidewalk squares (roughly 1,000 square feet). Consider using a hand-held spreader to apply salt consistently, and use salt only in critical areas.

    And sweep up any extra that is visible on dry pavement. It is no longer doing any work and will be washed away into local waters.

    Additional tips for limiting salt use:

    Shovel. The more snow and ice you remove manually, the less salt you’ll have to use and the more effective it can be.
    15oF and below is too cold for salt. Most salts stop working at this temperature. Use sand instead for traction, but remember that sand does not melt ice.
    Slow down. Drive for the conditions and make sure to give plow drivers plenty of space to do their work. Consider purchasing winter (snow) tires.
    Hire a certified Smart Salting contractor. Visit the MPCA’s Smart Salting webpage for a list of winter maintenance professionals specifically trained in limiting salt use.
    Watch a video. Produced by the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization, it offers tools for environmentally friendly snow and ice removal.
    Promote smart salting. Work together with local government, businesses, schools, churches, and nonprofits to advocate for reducing salt use in your community.
    Learn more on the MPCA’s Chloride webpage.

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Posted in environment

Otters Sliding, Rugby Sledding

The one thing I love about otters is their playfulness. It’s so neat to be walking in the snow and come across tracks of otters sliding in the snow.  They like to slide on their bellies and push forward with their feet to get wherever they are going. There’s no other track I’ve seen that looks like an otter slide as it’s usually 6-10 inches in width with webbed foot prints in it.  They can slide up to 22 feet on the ice and also like to slide down riverbanks in the summer.

Possibly inspired by otters, our dog Rugby decided to try sliding himself. The track was much different but it looked like he thoroughly enjoyed himself.

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Posted in Gunflint Trail

Why kids(and everyone) need wilderness



It’s amazing the number of articles one can find about the benefits of spending time in the wilderness. It’s equally surprising to hear about situations where people aren’t respecting the wilderness. One would think everyone would treat the wilderness gently since it offers us so much but it isn’t the case. Joshua trees in Joshua Tree National Park have been cut down to make illegal campsites  and garbage is piling up in other National Parks. It’s sad to hear about these instances and we’re thankful for folks respecting our Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and surrounding Superior National Forest.  Why are we thankful? Edward Abbey said it best, “Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit.” Why do kids and adults need wilderness? Here’s just a few reasons listed in a recent article I read and I know we can all come up with hundreds more.

  • 1. Kids need the freedom to learn what life is like without a schedule.
  • 2. Kids of all ages need a connection to nature.
  • 3. Kids need time to kick back and relax.
  • 4. Kids need to figure out how to exist without technology.
  • 5. Kids must be taught the importance of conservation.
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Posted in BWCA

Moose on the Loose

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Posted in wildlife

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