Boundary Waters Winter Adventure
Dogsled, cross-country ski, and snowshoe northern Minnesota
Enjoy the splendor of winter in the North Woods while sampling the activities it has to offer. Dogsled across frozen lakes. Cross-country ski through snow-covered pine boughs. Snowshoe under the stars. Enjoy the benefits of a wood-fired Finnish sauna, followed by a polar-plunge in the lake. Relax at night by a cozy fire in the lodge recounting the day’s adventures.
DAY 1: The trip starts in the late afternoon at Camp Menogyn near Bearskin Lake in the BWCA. You will hike about a mile across the frozen lake to access the lodge. Upon arrival, settle into your accommodations before enjoying dinner. Afterwards gather around the wood burning stove for introductions to dogsledding and learning how to dress for the weather.
DAY 2: After breakfast you will break into groups for half or full day activities. Options include dogsledding, hiking to Caribou Rock, snowshoeing down the Back Trail, cross-country skiing to Rose Falls, or trying your luck ice fishing (don't forget your license). Enjoy dinner with the group before experiencing the stillness of a North Woods winter evening. You'll have the option to sleep under the stars in a quinzhee tonight!
DAY 3: If interested, rise early to assist the mushers with feeding and caring for the dogs before enjoying a warm breakfast. Try a new adventure or develop a recently learned skill as you decide between half or full day activities. A relaxing afternoon by the lodge's wood burning stove is always an option too! Enjoy one last dinner and then brave the sauna and polar-plunge in the lake, if you dare.
DAY 4: Early risers can enjoy one last ski or snowshoe outing before breakfast. After, pack and transfer personal gear back across the lake for the trip home. The trip officially ends in the late morning before lunch. If you use WI's van transportation you can expect to arrive back in Minneapolis by evening.
What To Expect
TERRAIN/ROUTE: You will ski, snowshoe, and sled over lakes and through the woods. The frozen lakes provide level and open terrain. Portage trails through the woods can be hilly. The Boundary Waters offers a wide range of route options from easy to very difficult, perfect for a beginner or expert.
TYPE OF TRAVEL/DISTANCE: You will use cross-country skis, snowshoes, dogsleds, and pulk sleds. Pulks are one-person sleds, powered by another individual, used for transportation. An average day consists of 2-6 hours of activity, depending on weather conditions. Dogsledding is extremely dependent on weather, snow conditions, and the dogs. You can expect at least a 15 minute ride, but if conditions are right plan on a much longer experience. Travel distances vary from 3-8 miles per day. No previous experience is needed to participate on this trip.
WEATHER: Temperatures in the winter months range from -40 F to +40 F. With proper gear and clothing you can stay very comfortable.
YOUR GROUP: The group size ranges from 15 to 20 participants, plus 2 or more Wilderness Inquiry staff in addition to the Camp Menogyn dog mushers. Each group consists of people of various ages, backgrounds and abilities. Our trips are collaborative in nature. WI staff will assist you in whatever areas you need, however most people pitch in where they can.
ACCOMMODATIONS: Participants share rooms and sleep in bunk beds. Camp Menogyn is a modern facility; however, most people will be asked to use an outhouse. An indoor bathroom is available for those who are unable to venture outside easily. Bathing is done the "Finnish way" in the sauna on our last night.
MEALS: All meals will be prepared for you by Camp Menogyn. You can expect fresh fruit and veggies, nutritious meals, and snacks throughout the day. If you have special dietary restrictions, be sure to let Wilderness Inquiry know ahead of time.
EQUIPMENT AND CLOTHING: Wilderness Inquiry will provide all group equipment. You will need to provide your personal gear as outlined in the packing list. If you are new to outdoor activities, you do not need to spend a lot of money. Wilderness Inquiry can usually arrange for you to borrow most items.A note about the itinerary: Our trips are real adventures in the outdoors. While we'll make every effort to follow the itinerary listed here, elements may change due to weather or reasons beyond our control.
In 1964, Congress designated the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW, or simply BWCA) as one of the first federally protected wilderness areas in the United States as part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. The 1.1 million-acre BWCAW is our nation’s only large lakeland wilderness, where travel during the ice-free months is primarily via canoe. The area remains the largest wilderness east of the Rockies and north of Florida’s Everglades, and the storied Boundary Waters remains the most popular wilderness in the nation.
The BWCAW, the northern third of Superior National Forest, lies on the international border between northern Minnesota and the Province of Ontario, Canada. Together with the adjoining 1.2 million-acre Quetico Provincial Park on the Ontario side of the border, this international wilderness complex forms an unparalleled lakeland wilderness complex of 2.3 million acres, an area larger than Yellowstone.
These waters form a maze of interconnected lakes, formed by glaciation. This country is part of the Canadian Shield, a geological formation that comprises portions of the earth’s most ancient exposed rock, some of which is 3 billion years old! The Boundary Waters contains about 1,175 lakes in all, making a maze of interconnected wilderness waterways to explore. Whether you paddle one of the larger border lakes -- Saganaga, Knife, Basswood, Crooked, Lac La Croix -- or one of the smaller more intimate lakes, you’ll experience an undeveloped lakeland wilderness that appears much the same as it has for hundreds of years.
Two types of forests, the Boreal and Laurentian forests, converge to create a unique ecosystem with diversified plant and animal life in the Boundary Waters. Animals that would not normally be seen together, such as the white-tailed deer and the moose, have made the BWCA their homes. Many birds, such as bald eagles, loons and over 20 species of wood warblers, use the Boundary Waters as their nesting grounds. Anglers can test their skills against the area’s lake trout, walleye, northern pike, or smallmouth and largemouth bass.
Humans have left their mark on the Boundary Waters as well. Native peoples inhabited the Boundary Waters area for thousands of years, with some human relics dating back to 10,000 BC. The Anishinabe (sometimes called Ojibwe, or Chippewa) and Dakota (Sioux) used the intricate waterways of the BWCAW for hundreds of years. Native peoples first used many of the campsites and portages (paths between lakes) still used today. Artifacts from that period still turn up. European fur traders and missionaries first came into the area in the early 1700s. A working relationship developed between the European fur traders and the Ojibwe, based on trade of European goods for native knowledge and furs. This partnership ended in the mid 19th century due to the declining interest in furs as fashion.
Fur trading and logging of the Boundary Waters began taking its toll on the fragile ecosystem. People decided to act, setting aside this pristine wilderness area and working to protect it from further harm. In 1909, President Teddy Roosevelt established the Superior National Forest, with 1,000 square miles of roadless land (the precursor to the BWCAW) later set aside in 1926 as the nation’s second administratively-established wilderness. The 1964 Wilderness Act designated the Boundary Waters as an original unit of the National Wilderness Preservation System, but with some compromises that allowed logging and motorboats to continue there. Congress passed additional protections for the BWCAW in 1978, and expanded the area to its current borders and size of 1.1 million acres. The controversy surrounding this Congressional effort for the Boundary Waters also led to the establishment of Wilderness Inquiry; WI began by taking canoe trips in the BWCAW and continues doing so to this day.
This is just the beginning of your adventure to the Boundary Waters. We will continue to provide you with more history and details as you travel through the lakes with our trip leaders. Hope to see you on the trail!
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is your cancellation/refund policy?
Your 10% deposit is non-refundable. If you choose to cancel your trip:
For trips in the continental United States:
• 6 weeks prior to start date — we will refund fees paid minus deposit.
• Less than 6 weeks — we will refund 50% of the total trip fee, or 100% of fees paid can be transferred to a future trip.
• Less than 1 week— no refunds will be issued.
For trips outside the continental United States:
• 12 weeks prior to start date— we will refund fees paid minus deposit.
• Less than 12 weeks — we will refund 50% of the total trip fee, or 100% of fees paid can be transferred to a future trip.
• Less than 2 weeks — no refunds will be issued.
In the rare event that WI cancels a trip, or we are unable to serve you, all fees are immediately refunded, including the deposit. Unfortunately, we cannot be responsible for personal expenses such as airline tickets. To protect your investment in your travel plans we recommend purchasing travel insurance. Information on travel insurance is included in your trip confirmation packet. If after registering you wish to switch trips, you may do so subject to availability. Fees may apply.
Under certain circumstances, such as death of a family member, change in health status, loss of employment, etc., we may make exceptions to our refund policies. Please let us know immediately if your plans change!
Some of the trip information on your website is different than the trip catalog. Why?
WI typically creates and prints our annual trip catalog in December. At that time we do our best to have finalized trip itineraries and set our prices accordingly. However, sometimes there are changes to a trip that necessitate adjustments to our prices after the catalog has gone to print.
Does WI offer dogsledding near the Twin Cities?
Most dogsled outfitters that we are familiar with near the Twin Cities have closed due to a lack of consistent snow. The dogsledding trip we offer is a 4-day, 3-night trip staying in a lodge near the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
What does BWCA or BWCAW stand for?
Boundary Waters Canoe Area or Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness
Does this trip have electricity for my CPAP machine, phone, camera or other electronic device?
Yes, this trip has electricity. Please indicate on your registration form that you need electricity and we will be sure to accommodate your need to the best of our abilities. If this is an international trip please check if you need an international adapter for your electronics. You can find more information on international plug ins here: https://www.worldstandards.eu/electricity/plugs-and-sockets/
I am riding in the Wilderness Inquiry van to the trip starting point. Where can I park my car?
Wilderness Inquiry has no participant parking available in our lot. We strongly recommend that participants meeting at WI make arrangements to be dropped off and picked up at WI. If you are unable to make a drop off/pick up arrangement, you can park your car at the St. Anthony Standard parking ramp ($10/day). Long-term street parking is not available.
For more information, visit these links:
Standard Meeting Places and Times
Start: Grand Marais, MN- Super America Gas Station at 1:30 PM (local time)
End: Grand Marais, MN- Super America Gas Station at 11:00 AM (local time)
This trip officially begins at 3:00 PM at the landing for Camp Menogyn on Bearskin Lake off the Gunflint Trail. The trip ends at 10:00 AM at the same location. You can use your own transportation and meet us at Camp Menogyn or take WI’s van transportation from Minneapolis for an additional fee. To ride in the WI Van, meet at Wilderness Inquiry Headquarters in Minneapolis at 7:30 AM on the first day of the trip. The shuttle returns to Minneapolis at 6:30 PM on the last day of the trip. For those driving on their own, Menogyn is about 6 hours northeast of Minneapolis, and 3.5 hours from Duluth, MN. Detailed meeting place instructions will be sent to you when you are confirmed for the trip. Booking a Flight? We recommend flying in to the Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport the night before your trip, and flying out from Minneapolis St Paul International Airport after 9:00 PM.Want to Ride With Us?
We typically provide transportation for this trip from the following places (make your selection when you register):