News & Notes

Big Wine and Cheese Affair Features Voyageurs, Gourmet Treats, and Inspiration

Paddlers grab a bottle of wine from the supply boat

At a fundraiser that is unlike any other, more than 100 people celebrated the mission of Wilderness Inquiry with a wine and dine on the water. The second annual Big Wine and Cheese Affair featured notable guests, moving stories about Wilderness Inquiry’s impact, and fine dining while participants paddled 24-foot Voyageur canoes on the Mississippi River. (more…)

Four reasons Voyageurs National Park should be on your bucket list

Voyageurs National Park

Every summer Wilderness Inquiry guides 24-foot cedar strip canoes through the stunning landscapes of Voyageurs National Park. Visitors can paddle on one of our 5-day trips without any portaging, leaving more time to appreciate the varied wildlife and amazing views of northern Minnesota. There’s no shortage of reasons to visit, but we whittled down the list to four must-experience highlights. (more…)

Join Explorer Ann Bancroft in the Great River Race

Contestants in Wilderness Inquiry's Great River Race celebrate

This September anyone who sponsors a boat in Wilderness Inquiry’s Great River Race can compete against world-renowned explorer Ann Bancroft. On September 16, Bancroft will take place in the seventh annual event, which starts and ends at Hidden Falls Regional Park in St. Paul. The course covers a 6-mile loop on the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers. Event participants take in beautiful views from the water, get a solid workout, and go home with a story about how they raced one of the world’s greatest explorers in the middle of her longest expedition to date.


New Zealand: I want to go back

After 10 days hiking, biking, kayaking and driving through beautiful New Zealand, all I want to do is go back. I had heard for years that I “MUST go to New Zealand.” However, it wasn’t until I glimpsed the snow-covered Southern Alps, hiked through Castle Hill, and touched the wild Tasman Sea that I truly understood the allure of this country. I did all of those activities on the first day of Wilderness Inquiry’s 10-day, 10-person November trip to the South Island. (more…)

Grand Rapids: Redefining its river relationship

Canoemobile paddled with more than 1,000 eighth graders from Grand Rapids Public Schools last week at a critical time. The community is redefining its relationship to the Grand River with the GR Forward Downtown & River Action Plan. The plan emphasizes environmental education, social equity, and community engagement, all hallmarks of the Canoemobile program.

Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss initiated the idea of hosting Canoemobile as part of her involvement with the Cities Connecting Children to Nature initiative. GR Parks and Recreation and GR Public Schools then partnered with Wilderness Inquiry to bring the program to town for the first time. (more…)

Bringing the world outside, one community at a time

Canoemobile visited Salt Lake City for the first time this month, hometown to our newest partner Vista Outdoor, whose mission is Bringing the World Outside. We were grateful to have Vista’s CamelBak water bottles in the dry desert air, keeping students, outdoor leaders, and teachers hydrated and ready to learn!

The community welcomed Canoemobile with open arms. As Wilderness Inquiry Outdoor Leader, Christine Tomlinson, described it: (more…)

Canoemobile: It’s only the beginning

Canoemobile is just the beginning. We have learned over the years to first bring outdoor adventure close to where people live in order to open up a world of opportunity: confidence in new skills, health and wellness through new activities, and employment through skills training and connections. That’s why Canoemobile was in Santa Barbara paddling with folks from Alpha Resource Center, camping with them at Cachuma Lake Recreation Area, and introducing them to careers in the outdoors with our partners from Toad&Co outdoor clothing company. (more…)

Uganda: What impressed me most

By Chris Nelson, Chattahoochee Nature Center Executive Director. Artwork by Ugandan students, proceeds from which fund local schools and create sustainable communities integral to protecting gorilla habitat.

In January, my wife and I traveled to Uganda and our first trip to Africa. Our small travel group from the Chattahoochee Nature Center was led by a wonderful local team from Wilderness Inquiry, a partner organization.

We spent an amazing 12 days traveling 1000+ miles overland visiting four national parks and countless other stops along the way. Each stop held a new surprise: remarkable animals, beautiful people, and breathtaking vistas–from acacia savannas to lush tropical rainforests! (more…)

Meet the Outdoor Career Academy graduates! Our future leaders

St. Paul students traded-in their spring break plans to camp, paddle, and expand their career options. From day one of Outdoor Career Academy (OCA), they demonstrated teamwork and leadership as they climbed into Voyageur canoes and paddled Lake Phalen. The curriculum was packed with sessions taught by industry professionals offering certificates in First Aid, CPR, Leave No Trace, and included a visit to the University of Minnesota Recreation Administration department. (more…)

Apostle Islands: The Accessible National Park

Spending time on Stockton and Sand Islands in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore may have been noisier than expected during the summer of 2016, but the result was worth the ruckus. This February, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore received the National Park Service “Accessibility Excellence” Award for developing universally designed campsites at Quarry Bay on Stockton Island and East Bay on Sand Island. Sites now include a boardwalk leading to oversized tent pads, making the sites accessible for individuals with limited mobility.

Combined with Wilderness Inquiry’s accessible base camp near Little Sand Bay, these improvements make the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore one of America’s most accessible national park units.

Real cooks, real fire: 5 best campfire meals

Come-on baby, light that campfire. Cooking in the wild just got a whole lot more interesting! Whether you’re digging a fire pit or working over a fire ring, rimmed with rock or brick, you want to be sure the blaze has died down a little to an even burn.

A Taste of the Apostles guide and cookbook author, Beth Dooley, shares the best five meals you can make over a campfire.


Defying disability in the depths of winter

“These trips are textbook examples of why Wilderness Inquiry exists, bringing people of all ability levels together to build community and accomplish common goals. These trips are what make us who we are,” said outdoor leader Larry Raineri, having just wrapped up the second Boundary Waters Winter Adventure of the season with Living Well Disability Services. These trips bring people of all ability and experience levels together to enjoy Minnesota’s natural wonders in depths of winter.


Students from Career Ventures learn job skills while repairing boats

Every other week, students from Career Ventures volunteer their time and talent to make an impact at Wilderness Inquiry. Career Ventures serves people who are Deaf, Deafblind, Hard-of-Hearing, Blind and Low Vision. The partnership between Wilderness Inquiry and Career Ventures is mutually beneficial, with students learning job-related skills while providing amazing work that contributes to fulfilling WI’s mission.


Beth Finch, John Butler, and Doug Martin join Wilderness Inquiry’s Board of Directors

Wilderness Inquiry is thrilled to welcome Beth Finch, John Butler, and Doug Martin as new board members. Our Board is an involved and experienced group of volunteers who are dedicated to carrying out WI’s mission. Beth, John, and Doug have been enthusiastically elected to join our team!

All introduced to WI in a unique way, our newly appointed board members bring a wide range of skills to Wilderness Inquiry’s leadership team and have a strong connection to our mission of discovering common ground through inclusive outdoor adventures.  (more…)

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