Kayaking in Boundary Waters is an adventure amidst one of the largest wilderness areas in the United States, a reason to consider Minnesota for your next vacation. With vast forested expanses, the state invites you to immerse yourself in nature, exploring its rivers, streams, and ponds. Amidst activities like hiking, fishing, and camping, the serenity and tranquility of this destination offer a soothing retreat.

The Minnesota Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, within the supernational forest, spans over a million acres. Its pristine streams, lakes, rivers, and extensive woodlands offer unparalleled exploration opportunities via kayak or canoe, ensuring limitless adventures in this breathtaking location.

Why go kayaking at Boundary Waters?

A canoe in the Boundary Waters.

Exploring Boundary Waters is a must during your vacation in this region. The geological marvels shaped by the Canadian Shield offer an extraordinary landscape. Ice glaciers, over two million years ago, carved out depressions, gorges, and canyons, eventually filling them with water.

The resulting diversity of aquatic life in Minnesota is truly unparalleled. The expanse boasts more than 1,100 lakes, inviting you to experience the thrill of kayaking through its diverse streams during your visit to the state. The indigenous communities have played a significant role in preserving the area’s richness and the captivating natural structures that abound here.

Exploring Boundary Waters

Sunset at the Boundary Waters.

Boundary Waters has been a historic home to the Ojibwe people for over 1500 years, preserving its diversity and exceptional waterways. This region served as a hunting and fishing ground for natives, fostering a complex trade network involving maple syrup and wild rice. The unique environment and thriving species in this area invite exploration and understanding.

Settlers arrived, altering the landscape, yet the community has safeguarded the region’s history. Despite fewer inhabitants, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness teems with diverse wildlife. Among the remarkable creatures are lynx, bobcats, beavers, minks, moose, Timberwolves, blue herons, and bald eagles, constituting over 50 mammal species and 200 bird species. Kayaking offers an exceptional way to explore this abundance.

The region isn’t limited to water activities alone. Visitors can partake in snowshoeing, sledding, skiing, hiking, camping, and a myriad of other experiences, making it a multifaceted destination to explore.


Top places to go kayaking at Boundary Waters

The woods in the Boundary Waters area.

With over 2000 kilometers of kayaking trails, Boundary Waters offers an exhilarating experience, inviting you to explore its diverse streams and lakes. This region showcases a rich tapestry of aquatic and plant life across its different areas.

Embark on multi-day trips and engage in various activities like fishing and hiking amidst this picturesque setting. It’s advisable to seek guidance in unfamiliar locations, ensuring you acquaint yourself with different areas before setting out on your journey.

Sawbill Lake

Sawbill Lake offers an ideal spot for kayaking, welcoming both experienced paddlers and beginners alike. The area presents opportunities for short kayak trips across the lakes, allowing exploration of the diverse aquatic life.

You’ll encounter various creatures such as beavers, loons, eagles, and moose amidst a complex array of plant species. Additionally, the region boasts intriguing natural features including erratic glacial boulders and weathered trees, enhancing the experience of this picturesque location.

Lac La Croix

Lac La Croix, another captivating lake within the Boundary Waters, stretches approximately 28 miles in length, offering a glimpse of stunning islands within its expanse. Exploring this habitat up close allows you to witness the diverse flora and fauna that thrive in this area. Opting for a kayak journey remains the best means to thoroughly explore this region and its remarkable islands.

Mountain and Clearwater Lakes

Mountain and Clearwater Lakes offer an exceptional opportunity to explore the region, particularly the crystal-clear waters of the eastern part of the wilderness area. This location promises pristine adventures, allowing you to discover various thriving species and stunning scenery, including towering cliffs and diverse wildlife.

When exploring the wilderness here, it’s essential to wear proper protective equipment. The historic voyage through this area enhances your outdoor experience, elevating it to a whole new level.

Saganaga West

Saganaga West offers an exploration of the wild waters stretching about 30 miles along the Canadian border. This location stands as one of the most challenging spots, showcasing unique aquatic life. Kayaking from one area to another is easily accessible, allowing you to witness diverse wildlife and offering stunning views of the forests and water creatures in the region.


Ely, situated in Minnesota, stands as one of the primary entry points to the wilderness. It’s essential to immerse yourself in the unique regional culture, savoring local food and cuisine before indulging in watersport activities. With numerous rental shops available, acquiring kayaking equipment is convenient. Exploring the various entry points in the area ensures you make the most of the diverse locations.

Permits are necessary for this region, so ensure you obtain them before your visit. The optimal time to explore this region is during the summer, from May through September, as Minnesota winters can be extreme, often dropping below 0 degrees Celsius.

Kawishiwi Triangle

Kawishiwi Triangle stands as one of the top locations to explore during your trip to the region, offering an excellent opportunity for kayaking. Covering an entry point of about 21 miles, it includes eight portages that allow you to navigate various areas using your kayak.

The region hosts numerous campsites, providing flexibility to explore different areas rather than being confined to one. However, it’s crucial to note that the water currents in the area can be rapid, emphasizing the importance of having appropriate safety gear on hand.


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Aurimas Bio

Hi there! I’m Aurimas, a man behind Go Look Explore. I’m passionate about hiking, exploring off-the-beaten-path destinations, and everything outdoors related. Let’s connect.