Ely

It’s not officially on the North Shore. Instead, it’s wilderness lakes and Finnish saunas, boreal forest and loon call contests. As avid paddlers and BWCA travelers, we think of Ely as our favorite weekend getaway. And the scenic and curvy drive up from Highway 61 takes less than two hours. We’ll help you find enjoyable day trips by foot or by paddle, a few surprisingly sweet cross country ski trails, and funky small-town festivals.



Posts from Ely

Miss North Shore, please come home
January 14, 2011 by Andrew Slade

Miss North Shore, please come home

What is the North Shore? What does it mean to live there? And...can saying you live here make it true? The Lake County News Chronicle reported on a case of mistaken North Shore identity. The four contestents for the title of Miss North Shore listed their homes as Silver Bay, Two Harbors...and "Scenic Highway 61." The eventual winner, Caitlyn Thompson, was the person from the scenic highway. After some consideration by authorities, however, it was decided that Ms. Thompson did not actually live on the North Shore. She lives in a Twin Cities suburb, Vadnais Heights.View Larger MapMs. Thompson's family has … read more


Snow buntings
October 25, 2010 by Andrew Slade

Snow buntings

Driving from Ely to the North Shore yesterday, I was stunned and thrilled by the flocks of snow buntings rising from the road as we passed. Photos were simply impossible, since we were going at least 60 mph and the birds popped up without warning. But the beauty of the flock in flight, the flashing of dozens of white wings, called out for something, somehow, to capture it.Maybe some snow bunting simile?Half-burnt aspen leaves, caught in the updraft, rise and dance from the burn pile.Snowflakes scatter from the road, up and out and away, only there is no snowstorm. Snow … read more


Goodbye old friend
April 5, 2010 by Andrew Slade

Goodbye old friend

My daypack for the last 20 years has been a miracle. Just a month old, it was stolen by a car prowler in Seattle and we just happened to find it in a dumpster three blocks away, emptied of anything "valuable." But far more valuable was the pack itself and all the adventures it's been on.Wherever I've gone, it's gone too. To Germany and back. Down the Green River in Utah. And up and down and all over the North Shore, spring, summer, fall and winter.When the seams began to burst, Get There! Designs in Ely fixed it up and … read more


For vigorous growth, straight and tall
October 20, 2009 by Andrew Slade

For vigorous growth, straight and tall

My trees have ED.Every fall for about four years now, I've wandered the forest around our cabin in Ely and stapled small rectangles of newsprint around the tippy top of the smaller white pines. This tippy top is called the "apical meristem," and tucked inside those needles are the starting buds for next year's most critical growth: upward.The problem is, the deer eat everything they can when winter rolls around, and those little buds are packed full of energy ready to spring out next year. Our property had hundreds of stilted little white pines, all about a foot tall and … read more


Suspended due to blueberries
July 28, 2009 by Andrew Slade

Suspended due to blueberries

This blog has been temporarily suspended due to a relative abundance of blueberries in the Ely area. The blog's author has been blinded with greed and cannot maintain his normal schedule of blog posting. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. … read more


Trails Hiking?
April 13, 2009 by Andrew Slade

Trails Hiking?

My good friends at Minnesota Power have a tendency to over-sign their trails. Maybe it's a fear of liability. When the Boulder Lake ski trails north of Duluth first opened, there were "caution" signs on every curve and dip. But this sign, at their great new trail to Kawishiwi Falls in Ely, is something new. Birds Watching?Lunch having?Perhaps the sign Yoda wrote.Here the falls are:Enjoy them you should. … read more


Feels like the last time
April 13, 2009 by Andrew Slade

Feels like the last time

Nothing like pop music of the 70s or 80s to get me through a crisis. Between Foreigner and Melissa Manchester, I've made the transition from winter to spring.Thanks to some late-season snow and the persistent grooming of Ely's great Nordic club, I enjoyed one more day on the Hidden Valley ski trails last week. It was classic spring skiing...mashed potato snow in the sun and crispy icy tracks in the shade. The best part was one more blessing by wolf tracks:Looking back, I have to wonder why I thrashed around so with the end of this ski season. It ended … read more


The Last Temptation of Winter
April 8, 2009 by Andrew Slade

The Last Temptation of Winter

Stand on a Boundary Waters lake in early spring and experience temptation. The surface of the wilderness lake is flat and smooth with well-hardened snow. You could go anywhere, especially on skate skis that would fly across the wilderness. Before the day warms up, the snow pack in the woods is crusty hard. You could walk anywhere. Cliffs rise around the shore, with just enough snow on them for easy access. You could climb anywhere. With all this temptation, what is a guy to do? Ski, walk or climb...or all of the above?The Slade and Rauschenfels clan chose "all of … read more


Blessed by wolf tracks
February 26, 2009 by Andrew Slade

Blessed by wolf tracks

I love the stories you can find, and imagine, in the winter woods. Tracks of animals are so real and definite: this animal put this foot HERE, then this other foot HERE. The biggest thrill for me is finding fresh wolf tracks, like here on a ski trail outside Ely.The tracks led off the groomed ski trail and into the woods. I could easily picture the one wolf loping off through the trees, followed by a few pack members along the same path.To me, a wolf blesses a place. I've never actually seen a wolf when I'm on foot in … read more


More pines, more poodles
February 25, 2009 by Andrew Slade

More pines, more poodles

A week in the woods on the edge of the Boundary Waters, poodles and part poodles everywhere. Chloe the standard poodle was the trail boss, at first. I took her for a short walk in on the Bass Lake Trail toward Dry Falls. This photo makes me laugh, because it's the same pose and attitude as Jim Brandenburg's pictures of wolves Only wolves don't have collars or puffy white curls. www.jimbrandenburg.com/gallery/shows/wolves.Princess Chloe would be eaten alive by wolves.Later in the week we were joined by Chloe's "cousin", Zoe (yes, the names rhyme). The Zoe-ster is a golden doodle, with … read more