Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness - BWCAW
low flying bald eagle over BWCAW lake


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The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) is by far the largest wilderness area east of the Mississippi, and one of the largest wilderness areas in the lower 48 in general. It is a unique lake and forest filled area of 1.09 million acres. It's the #1 freshwater canoeing destination in The U.S., and also the most popular wilderness area outright. This is a place you can get lost in.

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness originally received some protection in 1926 when it was declared the "Superior Roadless Area". In 1964 The BWCAW was given official wilderness protection, and in 1978 the BWCAW Act established a new rule set.

The area is filled with eagles, moose, wolves, loons and other classic Northwoods wildlife. Fishing and water based recreation opportunities are endless and all high quality. The BWCAW you see today was formed by the work of glaciers, which scoured and scrapped this Precambrian rock into today's rugged, water filled landscape. The area is considerably unique among its park peers due to the trip planning and route taking within the park. Because of the massive array of lakes, one can portage from one lake to the next, chaining multiple different lakes in one single trip, even for weeks at a time. Ultimately, the size of the BWCAW and the amount of water enables this fascinating mode of travel possible. The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is a world class outdoor destination, and a great camping experience for the whole family. Everyone should visit the area at least once.

Park facts:

Total acreage: 1,090,000
Square Miles: 1,703
Wilderness Acreage: 1,090,000
Lakes: 1175 from 10 to 10,000 acres each
Surface water: 190,000 acres
Streams: Several hundred miles
Entry points: 80
Canoe Routes: 1200 miles
Campsites: 2200
Highest point in Minnesota: 2,301 feet (Eagle MT)
75% of water is motor free
Hiking Trails: 18
Boat access points: 80
Mammal species: 52
Bird species: 155
400,000 acres of old growth
Visitation: : 200,000


Contact Information
Superior National Forest - Supervisor's Office
8901 Grand Ave Place
Duluth, MN 55808


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