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DanC333
member (44)member
 
08/03/2020 06:35AM
Hi,
Starting to plan a trip to the BWCA, and was looking at entry point 37. In searching older threads, I have read about concerns about the area having been impacted by the fires. Is this still an issue?
Thanks
DAn
 
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08/03/2020 06:56AM
I wouldn't call it an issue. There is evidence of fire damage from Square up to the very southern tip of Polly. A couple of campsites along the way were nixed but the portages are fine. No big deal, just different scenery.
DanC333
member (44)member
 
08/03/2020 07:50AM
Thanks, glad to hear that.
MikeinMpls
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08/03/2020 09:54AM
I did a solo trip soon after the fires, and a trip with my wife to the area in May. I wouldn't say there is any "issue" with the fires other than the landscape is...burned and fire-scarred. To me, it's as much of the wilderness as any area that has not recently been scarred by fire. There is a lot of new life springing up. The portages can be hot and windy due to a lack of tree cover. But it's a very interesting area post-fire. I recommend it.

Mike
jwartman59
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08/03/2020 10:44AM
Where is entry point 37? I’ve been to the bwca many times and refer to entry points by the lake or river name. This would maybe get more responses from old timers who go by the lake name
DanC333
member (44)member
 
08/03/2020 11:54AM
I think its the Kiwishiwi Lake Entry.
cyclones30
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08/03/2020 12:17PM
Yep, same as the others have said. You're in the burn zone for maybe an hour or two on your first day if you get to at least Polly. No real issues unless you're planning on staying at one of those lakes within an hour or two from the parking lot.
mjmkjun
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08/03/2020 06:46PM
DanC333, if you are planning on camping at one the few sites at Kiwishiwi campground the night before your entry, bring earplugs and accept the possibility of little sleep. The potential for loud campers until the wee hours is 50:50. A crapshoot, if you will. That's because there's no charge for the primitive sites. Just giving you a friendly heads-up while you are in the process of planning.
DanC333
member (44)member
 
08/03/2020 07:06PM
Thanks! That is exactly what I was thinking! What would be another option? Or should this be the plan and realize I might have some good natured but noisy friendly company!
TipsyPaddler
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08/03/2020 08:22PM
The campground at Sawbill (EP 38) is a short drive, by North Shore standards, from EP 37 and it has many more spaces. But that has had some recent reports of being unusually crowded with noisy campers too with all the Covid-19 driven traffic. I spent a night at Sawbill two years ago and it was a very good experience (way better than the AmeriSuites in Tofte—never again!) but that was influnced by their nice store serving cold beers and hot showers at the end of BWCA trip which I think are not currently available. The campground was only 2/3rds to 3/4ths full too as we drove up and found an open site without reservstions. I think at Sawbill some sites are reservable and some number are first come, first served but I would call Sawbill Outfitters—who manage that and the Temperance River Campgrounds—to confirm.

There is also Temperance River campground, iirc, in the area but I have not seen it myself.
Hope for the best, but have a plan B and C.

My wife and I are doing a short 4 night trip out of EP37 on 8/13. But we are just planning a very early departure from the MSP area to avoid the cramped EP campgrounds which would be our normal Plan A for the Tofte EPs. Makes for a long day but hopefully results in just tired vs. tired and really annoyed.

Curious to see how full the EP37 parking lot is this year!
CoachBigD
distinguished member (159)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
08/04/2020 05:32AM
When are you looking at going?

I am thinking about a solo mid September. This is a potential EP for me.
DanC333
member (44)member
 
08/04/2020 05:44AM
Thanks for the information! I would be curious to hear about how full the parking lot/campground was when you get back form your trip! have a great time!
mjmkjun
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08/04/2020 06:07AM
Sawbill Outfitters manages Sawbill Lake Campground, Cresent Lake Campground and Temperance River Campground for the USFS. All three are fee-based. All within easy driving distance from each other. Cresent Lake allows motors since it's outside the BWCA boundaries. Call Sawbill Outfitters for any questions/inquires you may have or visit their website. They are nice folks to deal with in person or on phone.

Showers are normally available for a $5 fee at Sawbill Outfitters showerhouses--except for this year. (Employees only this year.) There's a small store for goods but now it's a walk-up window service instead of walking into the store. Cell phone accessibility just off to the right of storefront entry doors. A small tight area with benches near a roof-mounted antenna.

I've stayed at Sawbill Campgrounds many times over the years and will be staying again at end of August. Have always found it friendly, quiet, and relaxing. When I checked recently, almost every one of the allowed 14 entry permits per day are reserved at Sawbill Entry/EP 38. Yikes! Again, these are unusual and different times. More people; more noises. Since kids are not likely going back to classrooms I expect the trend will continue until temps drop dramatically.

Either a campsite (book at recreation.gov) nearby EP 37 or chance having a site open at the freebie EP 37/Kawishiwi Lake. It's a 30 min-40 mins drive on graveled roads from Sawbill Campground to Kawishiwi entry point. In the early hours of the morning, you may encounter a moose just hanging out on the foggy graveled roadway to Kawishiwi. ;)

Tip: If you/your group stay at Kawishiwi there's a primitive outhouse. Might be wise to bring own toilet paper as Rangers may not be servicing those frequently enough these days of high demand. When all is said and done, most canoeists/trippers are excited and don't get much sleep the night before entry.

Apologies if it's too much rambling for your need.
scotttimm
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08/04/2020 11:05AM
Another option if you don't want to camp at the public/rustic campground, is to simply camp on a BWCA site on Kawishiwi Lake when you arrive. It was a little nerve-wracking to know we would arrive mid-day on our entry date and I was worried about finding a site. I asked for feedback on here on how busy those sites are - was reassured - and we were able to easily secure a site mid afternoon. The furthest site, near the narrows that leads to Polly, is only a 20 minute paddle away and was a good first night site. The island site south of there was taken, but is also nice. We did this on our entry in June.

The rustic campground was not open then (not sure of it's current status), but it allowed us to show up mid-afternoon, take a quick paddle, and enjoy a fresh dinner that we stowed away in a soft cooler and a box/bag of wine before we made the trek up to Polly the next day. That same site was available when we passed it on our exit date eight days later.
DanC333
member (44)member
 
08/04/2020 12:36PM
Ramble away! The more information I can get from those that have been there/done that/ the better! Also, what a great idea for this entry point, to just camp on the lake, where you can find a spot, and then you have kinda started your trip a day early! Great idea!
mjmkjun
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08/04/2020 01:39PM
The road leading up to the 5-sites at Kawishiwi Campground is not in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Officially, when you launch your canoe(s) w/gear on the water you have entered the Boundary Waters perimeters. You'd be risking a fine if you entered on a date earlier than permit states and by chance, a Ranger checks your permit/entry date. Be aware of this and plan accordingly.
Wolfee
member (16)member
 
08/04/2020 01:53PM
scotttimm: "Another option if you don't want to camp at the public/rustic campground, is to simply camp on a BWCA site on Kawishiwi Lake when you arrive. "

As stated, the sites on Kawishiwi lake (and not in the rustic campground) are in the BWCA. Technically, you would need an overnight paddle permit to use those campsites if you arrive the day before your actual entry date.

With all the discussion of people complaining about campsites taken near the entry points - the last couple times I used this EP, all the campsites on Square and Kawasachong were completely empty. We camped on Kawasachong on our last day for an easy paddle the next morning. Camping in the burn area was kind of cool for a change. Nice sunny morning campsite...
scotttimm
distinguished member (385)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
08/04/2020 01:58PM
mjmkjun: "The road leading up to the 5-sites at Kawishiwi Campground is not in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Officially, when you launch your canoe(s) w/gear on the water you have entered the Boundary Waters perimeters. You'd be risking a fine if you entered on a date earlier than permit states and by chance, a Ranger checks your permit/entry date. Be aware of this and plan accordingly. "
I'm not sure if you are responding to me - and you are correct - the sites on the lake are in BWCA, the rustic campground is not. When we camped on a BWCA site we did so on the date of our permit. There are usually plenty of permits on 37, so I considered getting a permit for the day we arrived and the day after just in case all sites on Kawishiwi were taken - but in the end, I just got a permit for the day we entered, and had no problem getting a site.
DanC333
member (44)member
 
08/04/2020 02:18PM
I think he was making sure I didn't screw up and camp on the BWCA lakes before the permit allowed. Thanks, I might have! My First thought was to get to the little campground the evening before, camp there, and get an early start, but I like the idea of getting there on the day of the permit, and just going in and finding a spot in the BWCA. Might technically add a day to the trip, just a very short day on the first day.
Dan
scotttimm
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08/04/2020 02:32PM
DanC333: "I think he was making sure I didn't screw up and camp on the BWCA lakes before the permit allowed. Thanks, I might have! My First thought was to get to the little campground the evening before, camp there, and get an early start, but I like the idea of getting there on the day of the permit, and just going in and finding a spot in the BWCA. Might technically add a day to the trip, just a very short day on the first day.
Dan"

That's what I did - and it worked really well. I had two permits reserved at first, one for the day we would arrive in case the rustic campground was packed/closed and the next day when I thought I would enter. I watched the weather forecast leading up to it, and cancelled the extra permit accordingly about a week ahead. Rain was forecast for the first day, so we just decided to take our chances and enter the second. There were still plenty of permits available on both days, so I didn't feel like I was stopping anyone from being able to enter on either day. We wanted to have as contactless of a trip up as possible, so I didn't want to stay at a bunkhouse. We didn't have any issues staying on Kawishiwi Lake - packed in potato salad, green salad, hot dogs with all the fixin's in ziplock bags, and cold wine for that first night. Wasn't as nice as eating in Ely, but made for a very comfortable first night and a quick entry the second morning to get up to Polly early. Polly had emptied out, and we had our choice of sites rolling into the lake around noon.
CoffeeInTheWoods
distinguished member (125)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
08/04/2020 02:55PM
DanC333: "Hi,
Starting to plan a trip to the BWCA, and was looking at entry point 37. In searching older threads, I have read about concerns about the area having been impacted by the fires. Is this still an issue?
Thanks
DAn"


I've been through that route three times in the last few years. It's actually quite interesting to spend a few hours in the burn area before Polly. Unfortunately, We got caught in a thunderstorm on the burn end of the Polly portage. Not a lot of shelter if the rain moves in.
cyclones30
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08/04/2020 05:25PM
The first come first served campground has I think 5 sites officially and when we were there on a non-covid year it was full and those folks looked like had their campers setup for the long haul. You could sort of find your own hole in the woods in a spot or two along the road....we just slept in our truck the night before. (that sucked) That did however lead to a VERY early entry that next morning which had us well ahead of any other trippers that day :)
mjmkjun
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08/05/2020 07:05AM
scotttimm, my input wasn't directed at you but at DanC333 for the reason he cited.
What cyclones30 wrote reminds me of the time when I pulled into Hog Creek parking lot early one morning and discovered 3 tents set up. Must have woke them up as they crawled out of their tents soon after--looking a bit hungover. The parking lot there is bigger so I suppose the fellas had decided on a makeshift overnighter. Thing is, they had also built a small fire too on the graveled lot. Lucky for them I wasn't a ranger. I didn't say any corrective to them as it wasn't my part to play. They were polite and nice and appeared to be all young military personnel out for camping adventure. Later, I paddled past their site on Perent Lake to observe a bonfire of sorts with them dancing around it holding pints of booze and waving to me. Yep, young servicemen out for comradery and raising cane in the woods.
MikeinMpls
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08/05/2020 08:58AM
cyclones30: "The first come first served campground has I think 5 sites officially and when we were there on a non-covid year it was full and those folks looked like had their campers setup for the long haul. You could sort of find your own hole in the woods in a spot or two along the road....we just slept in our truck the night before. (that sucked) That did however lead to a VERY early entry that next morning which had us well ahead of any other trippers that day :) "

Not pertaining to the fires, but:

I've camped at the rustic campground (in an early May, long before COVID), and we were the only ones there. A couple of years ago, I soloed out of Kawishiwi Lake and the campground was a small village. One guy had some kind of structure...far more than a tent. It had metallic walls, windows, two separate entrances, about seven miles of guy wires...it wasn't a house, but it was far more than a tent. It was legal, as far as I could tell, but it indicated to me that this dude, his group, and the five ATVs parked on the road next to their site were in it for the long term. They did not have room with the structure and the two pickups and trailers to park in the ATVs in their campsite area.

Kawishiwi Lake is interesting in this regard. As others have said, the campground is outside the BWCA, but the lake is within. The campsites on the lake (within the BWCA) can get super crowded in the summer, likely by parties that will never go farther in the Bdub than Kawishiwi Lake. In that way, the shoreline can look like Lake One with a lot of tarps and partiers. In May we saw supposed day-trippers bringing cans of beer in with them.

So, go north. The burn area is really cool. It offers a perspective of geography and geology of the area that one can't get walking in the woods.

Mike
08/05/2020 03:54PM
If you would be interested in seeing what this area looked like before the fire, we spent the last night before Kawasachong erupted in flames camped (the last night of our trip) on Kawishiwi. I fondly remember our time on Kawashachong, even as the fire was burning in the distance, and we didn't realize we were close to being caught in it.

Kawishiwi Lake trip
 
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