About Us:

BWCA-Wilderness.com was started by Nathaniel “Nate” Merrill, as an place to collate information about Minnesota’s BWCA wilderness area and to assist in the aggregation of information about the BWCA and and visiting the BWCA.

Nate has loved the BWCA from an early age, and has had a continuous fascination with the idea of wilderness areas. While Nate didn’t visit the BWCA but, 2-3 times as a teenager; as an adult has been able to visit frequently for the last 4 years both on canoe trips and hiking trips to the area. Nate also camps and hikes with his young family at state parks and has made some trips to the Superior Hiking Trail (SHT).

About the BWCAW:

Historically, the area that became the BWCA was part of the area that the Ojibwe, Chippewa, and Sioux Native American settlements. There is much evidence of the thousands of years that the Native Americans lived in this area with some of the most obvious evidence being the pictographs in the various areas of the BWCA at Basswood River, Agnes Lake, Kahshahpiwi Lake, Kewatin, Payne, Hulburt, LacLaCroix, Fishdance, Hegman and in many other areas.

In the 17th century the area was first explored by people from Europe (the French), and subsequently the area was then explored further by European people in the 18th century. By the late 18th century the area was then descended upon by fur traders (Voyageurs) and was part of a system of Canoe routes that were developed by the First Nations in Canada and then further developed by the fur traders; which connected to a system of routes throughout the main land of the USA and Canada.

Moving into the 19th century the area was then mined and logged.

In 1978 the BWCA was declared a Wilderness Area by the US Congress in the “Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Act”. The BWCA is in Northern Minnesota along the Canadian border with over 1 million acres of land as part of the wilderness area; On the Canadian side of the border in Ontario the BWCA is connected with Quetico Provincial Park also a wilderness area this provides for an additional 1 million acres of land in the recreation area.

Even with the succession of if mining and forestry activity (and the blowdown storm of 1999), the area has become a highly pristine area with minimal evidence of the industrial activity that occurred in the BWCA.

Facts about the BWCA:

  • 250,000+ annual visitors
  • 1000+ lakes
  • 2,200+ campsites
  • 1,500 miles of canoe routes
  • 1.1 million acres


Canadian Border Outfitters: BWCA History

Wikipedia: Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

Wikipedia: Quetico Provincial Park

Wikipedia: Voyageurs

Wikipedia: North American Fur Trade

Wikipedia: Grand Portage National Monument

Wikipedia: Canadian Canoe Routes

Friends of the BWCA: Visit