Why come to Ely to enter the BWCAW?
Ely offers the most entry points, with more permits, but less permits per entry point.
Because there are more entry points, more permits can be issued, but the permit count per entry point per day can be kept to one per day as opposed to other locations which issue eight per day. What does that mean for you? Less traffic on the lake. More ease in getting permits. More places to buy permits.
Entry points are close to Ely
50 entry points are close to Ely; half are within a half-hour and none are more than an hour and a quarter away. What does that mean for you? It's great to be out in the wilderness, but when you're ready to emerge into civilization again, it's nearby and accessible. A comfortable bed, a shower, a delicious meal and a cold beer are all available within minutes of getting off the trail. Other towns that access the BWCA are 60 miles from the nearest entry point.
Ely's been doing it the longest
The concept of an outfitted canoe trip began in Ely! Outfitting pioneer Bill Rom founded his business in 1926. Bill built his business to become the largest canoe outfitter in the world and the largest Grumman canoe dealer in North America by the1960s when an article in Argosy Magazine dubbed Bill the “Canoe King of Ely.”
Ely does it the best
Today there are 20 canoe outfitters in the Ely area, more than anywhere else - not only around the BWCAW but in the world! Ely's outfitters are not just business owners, they are experts in their field. They continually research to find the best and lightest equipment, the most delicious food easiest prepared, the best routes for whatever particular interest the party has. Their advice is priceless, and yet many will offer it just upon the purchase of your permit from their location.
Ely's Wilderness is different
The wilderness just north of Ely consists of a boreal forest, a unique zone in which coniferous (firs and pines), not deciduous (broad-leafed), trees abound. The weather is unique because of the position of the land away from ocean currents which moderate the cold temperatures in the southern hemisphere. Because some of the BWCAW is near Lake Superior, that body of water also effects the type of trees that dominate the area and it is more deciduous than coniferous. Another tree type seen in the area is the beautiful white birch. Plant species in a boreal forest include mosses and lichens, which attract certain animals that like to feed on them, like moose. All of these factors create a wilderness that looks a little different than the east side of the BWCA.