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

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


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


A Screamer, literally
February 18, 2009 by Andrew Slade

A Screamer, literally

What sane person sees a sign that reads, in essence, "Go This Way to Die," and chooses then to follow it? Well, besides fans of Russian roulette, cross country skiers follow some dangerous indicators of doom. In Ely, MN, you can follow just such a sign, except it is labeled "Screamer."Ely is the Grand Marais of the Iron Range. Instead of Norwegian fishermen, Ely has equally charismatic Finnish miners. There's a Sven and Ole's, "Sir G's," only without those cheesy bumperstickers or TV ads. And just as Grand Marais has Pincushion Mountain, Ely has a mighty fine nordic ski system … read more