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04/23/2021 08:17PM  
Need advice from veterans (readers digest version) on pros/cons of entry points for an early September trip:

Crowds, ease of permits, etc. (assume scenery & fishing to be comparable

Coming from Arkansas, have paddled in the Crownlands

Thanks in advance
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04/23/2021 08:28PM  
Scenery actually is different. There really isn't much for recent forest fires out of Ely to speak of unless you do the numbered chain and that area which I wouldn't recommend anyway. The most burn is off the Gunflint in certain areas...there are maps that show where these went and when.

Gunflint has more hills, cliffs, etc as a general rule. More elevation around the lakes than it's western counterparts like Tofte or Ely. Instead of us trying to generally describe them....what do you want to do or see?

Big lakes, little ones, rivers, waterfall, pictographs, better fishing, certain species. That will help focus some. Otherwise it's like trying to describe....Iowa and Nebraska. They're similar but they're different...depends what you want.
04/24/2021 08:29AM  
And just to add to the above comment, Ely is about 4 1/2 hours away from my house in Minneapolis. The Gunflint is a good 5 1/2 hours (to Seagull Outfitters for example). Tofte area is about 4 and a half as well, but then one has to turn off and head into Sawbill which is another half hour. I guess that's a wash considering one would have the same drive time heading up the Echo Trail.

Early September (post-Labor Day) used to be quiet up north). The fair ends on that weekend and kids head back to school. However, this year may be busy like last year with a lot of permits taken. It's a situation that will have to be monitored during the summer.

04/25/2021 07:43AM  
This is very helpful.
I did not know about elevation in eastern side and that Will help my crew select route.
We will probably want large lakes for less portages but with some isolation.
Some overlooks and pictographs would be nice but not required. We have those here so the peacefulness of the water and fellowship is the key.
Same with fishing. We have great fishing here but any we find in BWCA will be a plus.
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04/25/2021 07:53AM  
Depending how early in Sept you go....the first week is still somewhat busy (before holiday) Then after that it gets less it seems. We'll see what the craziness of this year brings though.

Bigger lakes with some solitude....there are options but one I'll throw out there is either a 14 or 16 permit (LIS North or Moose River North) and head for Lac La Croix. Your first day you'll surely see people as you disperse from the entry point. But once on the main portion of LLC it should drop pretty quickly. Lots of points, bays, islands and campsites to explore. You can be paddling on that big lake on your first day with an early start and decent travel speed. Otherwise no big deal to camp your first night on the way there yet.

If you don't like the thought of re-tracing your path back out you can do a loop between those 2 as long as you have 2 vehicles with one dropped at the other EP already or if an outfitter is helping you shuttle you or your vehicle. (going back out the same way isn't that bad, it all looks different heading the other way)
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04/25/2021 07:59AM  
I forgot to mention, this would be "out of Ely" for my above suggestion. But it's at least 45 min out of town. And if the border between US and Canada is opened by then...there is boat traffic legal on the canadian side of the's big enough and sparse enough I never really noticed while up there. If the border is still closed, I'd suspect far less boat traffic on their side...or almost none.

There are also places where you can get far from the border and still be on LLC. (Lady Boot Bay for example, Snow Bay, etc) Or you're only one portage away from other lakes and campsite possibilities.
05/06/2021 06:26AM  
My opinions

Ely is most active area and crowded. Also you will find more garbage in the sites in this area.

Tofte and Gunflint are my preferred areas. More trout options on the Gunflint side. More Walleye and Pike in Tofte area. Though both areas have all 3 of those.
05/06/2021 09:38AM  
The first thing you need to do when planning where to go is decide if you need to go through an outfitter or not. If you do need to go through an outfitter, there are some that can get you a bit more solitude than others. Tuscarora Outfitter on Round Lake for example. There are 3 entry points near Tuscarora so people have the chance to spread out.

If you don't need an outfitter, then there are many more options to get a little more solitude. The Homer EP near Brule is a good example. Brule itself is another good EP without an outfitter. Brule offers Brule Only permits and general permits so once you get off the main lake, you are going to see fewer people. Vernon was a nice lake off Brule and you can go further to Swan for more isolation.

I would recommend that you don't worry so much about portages. Unless there is a reason that you can't do medium length portages, there is not a lot of sense in going out of your way to avoid them. It's just time and effort. Just do it and you can get to nice areas that many avoid just because they don't want to go an extra 100rds or so.
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