Boundary Waters Entry Points
Paddle the Quiet Side® with River Point Outfitting Co.
River Point has been servicing Boundary Waters canoeing guests for a very long time---since River Point began in 1944. Owners, Jane, Steve, and James plus their competent staff has a primary goal of servicing you in the selection of the entry point for your BWCA canoe trip. From the selection of the entry point corresponding routes will be offered for your consideration during the personalized Trip Routing and Orientation Session at the lakebased facility.
Many factors come into play to select the best entry point for your group based upon availability of the entry point permit for the dates you desire, your skill and knowledge level or lack thereof, your previous canoeing experiences, the makeup of your family or group, the type of trip you want and pacing of it, the length of the trip and more.
BWCA Canoe Trips-How To Plan is most helpful and addresses what to do to get started on the planning of your canoe trip.
Entry points in the Ely area have different quotas. Some have very low quotas with just 1-4 permits or parties allowed per day.(A permit party may have up to 9 persons.) Others have higher quotas of 14 to 27 permits issued per day. Thus, each will have a different “feel” about them, different routes, terrain, and numbers of people.
When entering the Boundary Waters through an area with a low number of permits offered, the paddlers will disperse quickly from that entry point. Heavier use entry points will have more people and it may take a day or more for the canoe groups to spread out. Historically, those entry points with higher quotas may have easier routes to travel with fewer portages, and often shorter portages. But, given the natural terrain of the BWCA, there are always exceptions to the previous statement.
Every entry point area will have portages…some may be easier, some more difficult. And, sometimes the longer portage may be easier than the shorter ones. Just know that you will encounter portages, but most of the portages….about 80% of them are under ¼ mile long.
Where is River Point Outfitting Co.?
River Point is strategically located to have direct paddle access to and from 14 of the Ely area entry points. Why is this important? You may enter the BWCA from any of these entry points and paddle downstream to River Point’s lakebase at the end of your adventure. No other outfitter has such a unique and enviable location.
The entry points in green below indicate that you can paddle directly back to River Point Outfitting Co. on the South Kawishiwi River (entry point #32) and Birch Lake, depending upon the number of days in your trip. One can experience a true sense of accomplishment when arriving at the marina at RPO.
Paddle the Quiet Side®
“We did it”! or “We did the B-dub!” can be heard when paddling into River Point’s shore.
ELY AREA ENTRY POINTS
Use the information related to entry points below as a general guide to gain an idea of what options there are. Use your outfitter as your personalized, and most knowledgeable guide, to listen attentively, make suggestions based on what you want from the canoe trip experience, and then give honest and pertinent guidance so that your canoe trip can be the best possible.
Remember: the entry points in green are those that you may opt to paddle, with a gentle downstream current, directly back to River Point’s wilderness facility at the conclusion of your Boundary Waters canoe trip adventure.
#4 Crab Lake (4 permits daily-Paddle Only)
Acess into both Crab Lake and Cummings is from Burntside Lake with a 320-rod portage (about 1 ¼ mile) to Crab Lake on the entry day. Exit location is the same with a van transport required. Great entry for a fishing base camp type of trip. Good for small mouth bass with day trips leading into other lakes with walleye and northern pike.
#16, Nina Moose River –North (7 permits daily-Paddle Only)
Also called Moose River Portage North. Access is a 160-rod portage heading North from the Echo Trail. A favorite route offering many trip options, including fishing for all four main BWCA species, granite hills and cliffs, small lakes and rivers, and wildlife, including deer, fox, bear, and wolf. This entry point leads into a series of great fishing lakes, such as Nina Moose Lake, Ramshead Lake, and Lake Agnes which continue on to Boulder Bay on the eastern end of Lac La Croix Lake. From there, you may paddle eastward along the US/Canadian Border into Iron Lake and traveling further east to Crooked Lake, as one option. This is a famous historic Voyageur route.
#19, Stuart River (1 permit daily-Paddle Only)
Access starts with a rather challenging 480-rod portage (1 ½ mile) from the parking lot to the Stuart River, which roams past several shallow lakes and end at Stuart Lake, usually on the second day of the trip. Great walleye fishing. Access into either Iron Lake or Crooked Lake from there. Exit location is usually #16 Nina Moose River or #23, Mudro Lake with a van transport required.
#23, Mudro Lake (6 permits daily-Paddle Only)
This entry point is very popular due to the great scenery and superb walleye and northern fishing. Access into Mudro Lake involve portages ranging from 20–185 rods. Options can be to portage into Horse or Fourtown Lakes for base camping, or continue paddling to other smaller lakes to the northwest. Other paddling options also. Exit can be from Mudro, #24 Fall Lake and #16 Nina Moose River with van transport required.
#24, Fall Lake (14 permits daily-Motorboats Allowed)
Easy access to big, beautiful Basswood Lake, Basswood River, and Basswood’s Jackfish and Pipestone Bays for a good degree of solitude. Excellent walleye fishing especially in mid to late May and June. Fall has some motorboat activity (maximum 25 hp) from day fisher people. Exit from Fall, #23 Mudro Lake, #25 Moose Lake, #26 Wood Lake with a van transport required.
#25, Moose Lake (27 permits daily-Motorboats Allowed)
This is by far the busiest, most popular entry point for BWCAW travel allowing both overnight paddle or motor use (25 HP max). Many private cabins and several resorts and outfitters are located in the southwest half of the 5-mile long lake which includes an average quota of 16 motorboat groups daily. There is also more motorboat use that comes from towboat shuttles that transport groups on the first six miles of the chain. This entry point provides the quickest access to Canada’s Quetico Park. There are many trip options for paddlers with additional portages. This area was affected by the extremely severe wind storm in 1999. For trips that start on the US side of the border, River Point does not recommend Moose Lake very often due to the busy nature of this entry point. Exit from #24, Fall Lake, #25 Moose, #26 Wood Lake, #29 Ojibway(North Kawishiwi River), #30 Lake One with van transport required. May also paddle back to River Point, dependent upon number of days in the trip, from #25 Moose Lake via the Northand South Kawishiwi Rivers.
#26, Wood Lake (2 permits daily)
Access to Wood Lake is a 180-rod portage. This is a less used area, but good fishing and quite scenic. Exit from #24 Fall Lake, #25 Moose Lake, #26 Wood Lake, #29 Ojibway (North Kawishiwi River), #33 Little Gabbro Lake, or #32 South Kawishiwi River with van transport. Or paddle back downstream to River Point via the #29 North Kawishiwi River to the South Kawishiwi River #32.
#27, Snowbank Lake (8 permits daily=Motorboats allowed)
Access is a canoe launch at Snowbank Lake. Many trip options on this large lake are available for paddlers. Dropping down into Parent Lake, and making a loop through lakes, such as Disappointment, Thomas, Alice, and Insula Lakes and ending up at Lake One makes for a good trip. Healthy fish habitat is several of the lakes, very pleasant route.
Winds can be heavier on Snowbank for the first three miles or so before paddling into Parent. May also head to the west into Moose Lake and paddle further down into Lake One. Exit from #27 Snowbank, #29 North Kawishiwi River, #30 Lake One, #33 Little Gabbro Lake, or #32 South Kawishiwi by van transport. Or, with enough days in the trip, one can paddle back downstream to River Point.
#29, Ojibway Lake—also called North Kawishiwi River (1 permit daily-Paddle Only)
This entry point is also known as the North Kawishiwi River. It serves as a boat launch area and has a “roller portage”. Access the North Kawishiwi River through Ojibway Lake and Triangle Lake using two portages. This entry provides a different means to enter into the Kawishiwi flowage to access #30 Lake One (especially if all Lake One permits are sold out), or to paddle downstream into #33 Little Gabbro Lake for some excellent walleye, northern and small bass fishing and to access #32, South Kawishiwi River for the paddle back to River Point—all of which is downstream. Exit van transport from #30, #33, or #32 can also be arranged.
#30, Lake One (7 permits daily-Paddle Only)
#30F, Lake One Restricted (7 permits daily-Paddle Only)
Access is a canoe landing at Lake One. Very popular entry point because there is no need to portage when you are dropped off at the landing. Just place your canoe into the water and begin paddling the chain of lakes. Popular with families with young children and groups wanting for a relatively easy entry point.
Because there are a total 14 permits offered daily into the Lake One entry point area, the landing can be very busy, especially in the morning hours. However, there are several routes that will lead you very quickly (an hour or so) into lakes and rivers with more solitude. To the east are Lakes Two, Three, Four, Hudson and Insula Lakes. Good fishing through most of the summer.
Further out, one may paddle to Moose Lake for about a 50 mile canoe trip. Closer to River Point, you may head into the Kawishiwi River system into #29 Ojibway Lake (North Kawishiwi River) stopping along the way into #33 Little Gabbro Lake and Bald Eagle Lake for some fine fishing and great scenery. Then do a “paddle-back” downstream on the South Kawishiwi River due south with a gentle current to end your canoe trip at River Point’s marina. You may also schedule an exit van transport from #25 Moose Lake, #27 Snowbank Lake, #29 Ojibway Lake (North Kawishiwi River), or #31 Farm Lake.
#31, Farm Lake (3 permits daily-Paddle Only)
Access is a boat landing on Farm Lake with access to South Farm Lake. Paddlers access North Kawishiwi River from Farm Lake. This is a light use entry point which is quite easy. Smaller lakes with less wind with some good fishing opportunities-walleye, pike, smallmouth bass and crappie. Good route for families with smaller children or groups wanting an easy route. Some trip options available for paddlers with additional portages. Exit van transport from #29 Ojibway Lake (North Kawishiwi Lake), 30 Lake One, #33 Little Gabbro Lake, and #32 South Kawishiwi River. But, most River Point canoeists simply paddle-in with a gentle downstream current to the base.
#33, Little Gabbro Lake (2 permits daily-Paddle Only)
Access is a 200-rod portage (½ mile +) from the parking lot to beautiful Little Gabbro Lake. Portage is rather long but relatively level ground with some inclines. Expect to work a bit harder, but it is worth your effort.
Great area for a base camp type of trip, or tour into adjacent Bald Eagle Lake. Excellent fishing for walleye and northern pike, especially in mid May through June into early July. Paddle further to other campsites or stay at your base camp and do day canoe excursions. Small portage into Bald Eagle lake of just 40 rods for more fishing action with smallmouth bass, northern pike and walleye.
These two lakes are two of the prettiest in the BWCA with lovely campsite areas to enjoy the scenery. To get off into more remote lakes from Bald Eagle, take the 186 rod portage into Turtle Lake. From there you can paddle and portage into Clearwater Lake which connects via short portages to Pietro Lake and Gull Lake. A real paradise area with abundant wildlife—beaver, otter, mink, loons, eagles, and more. Hear wolves howling in the distance…all of this just a short downstream paddle back to River Point via the South Kawishiwi River.
If you paddle in a northeasterly path from #33, you may opt for an exit van transport from #29 Ojibway Lake (North Kawishiwi River) or #30 Lake One. Exit van transport from #32 South Kawishiwi River will save you the last four miles of river paddling and four short and easy portages back to River Point. Only two permits offered per day into Little Gabbro Lake, thus, this prime entry point sells out fast.
River Point is the only and closest outfitter near the Little Gabbro entry point.
#32, South Kawishiwi River (2 permits daily-Paddle Only)
Access is a 140-rod portage to the river. This amazing entry point is just four paddle miles and four easy portages, with the longest being 70 rods, northeast of River Point’s lake front location.
Extremely scenic river system on the South Kawishiwi River past pretty rapids and some great spots for walleye fishing. Photographers paradise along with plenty of wildlife. This is a superb entry point to access #33 Little Gabbro Lake, if permits are sold out there. Many campsites on the river. Most groups paddle back to River Point at the trip’s end, but van exit transport at #29 Ojibway Lake (North Kawishiwi River), #30 Lake One, #33 LittleGabbro Lake, or #32 is offered. Only two permits per day sell out quickly.
River Point is the only and closest outfitter near the South Kawishiwi River entry point.
#34, Island River (3 permits daily-Paddle Only)
Two small portages leading to Isabella River. No portages on Island River. Island River entry point is about 2 miles west of the Isabella entry point. This entry point leads to the Isabella River. The area around both Island River and Isabella Lake is truly the heart of moose country in the Boundary Waters. Opportunities abound for moose sightings due to the low lying marshlands which is the natural moose habitat, and it is also abundant with ducks, geese, mink, otter, and beaver.
Great opportunities to hear wolves, and possibly observe wolf tracks on the shorelines and portages. With about a day and a half to two day paddle you will access Bald Eagle Lake, and from there Little Gabbro Lake for excellent scenery and superb walleye, northern, and small mouth bass fishing. Great scenic campsites, too.
There are many short portages on the Isabella River (about 8 with the longest being 190 rods at the entrance to Bald Eagle. So, it is more about paddling a short distance, then getting out of the canoe and loading the gear for a short portage, then back into the canoe to paddle again, and so on. As the terrain changes to higher ground in Bald Eagle, the portages cease unless going into the smaller and pretty little lakes to the north of Bald Eagle (see #33 Little Gabbro Lake entry point). Paddle directly back via a wonderful downstream gentle current to River Point Outfitting Co. on the South Kawishiwi River. Or, schedule an exit van transport for either #33 Little Gabbro Lake or #32 South Kawishiwi.
River Point is the only and closet outfitter to the Island River entry point.
#35, Isabella Lake (3 permits daily-Paddle Only)
Access is a 35-rod portage to Isabella Lake. Isabella entry point is about two miles to the east from the Island River entry point. This entry point leads to the Isabella River. Reference information on #34 Island River entry point above for paddling west back to River Point’s base on the South Kawishiwi River. Another option from the Isabella entry point is to paddle east to Parent Lake via the Parent River. Many short portages with the longest being 57 rods. Many opportunities to observe moose and other animals, ducks, turtles, loons, and birds. Or, do a base camp on Isabella Lake which has just four campsites…a remote and smaller lake.
River Point is the only and closest outfitter to the Isabella Lake entry point.
#36, Hog Creek (5 permits daily-Paddle Only)
Access is a 15 rod portage from Hog Creek leading into Perent Lake. Tiny streams are encountered versus wider expanse of most lakes. Stay on Perent Lake for a base camp experience. Remote area with lots of wildlife and lowlands.
River Point is the only and closest outfitter to Hog Creek entry point.
#37, Kawishiwi Lake (9 permits daily-Paddle Only)
Access is a boat landing at Kawishiwi Lake. Very remote entry point and definitely “off the beaten” track. This entry point is the farthest to the east of all the Ely area entry points. This entry can be the start of an adventure all the way to #30 Lake One with a variety of scenic and remote lakes to paddle. End the trip on the numbered lakes of Lake Four, Three, Two, and One. Great fishing, great opportunities to both observe and hear all kinds of wildlife and birds. Photographers dream.
This entry point can also be the start of a paddle trip all the way back to River Point’s base on the South Kawishiwi River via the Isabella River, Bald Eagle and Gabbro Lakes, finally the South Kawishiwi River. The entire paddle is downstream. Exit van transport at #35 Isabella Lake, #34 Island River, #33 Little Gabbro Lake, or #32 South Kawishiwi River can be arranged dependent upon how many miles your group wished to paddle.
River Point is the only and closest outfitter to Kawishiwi Lake entry point.
#75, Little Isabella River (1 permit daily-Paddle Only)
Access is a 20-rod portage to the Little Isabella River. Several short portages before you reach the middle of the Isabella River. Very remote entry point with abundant wild life. Short portages with marsh lands and winding rivers help to make it an easier area to paddle. The typical route leads through Bald Eagle Lake and into #33 Little Gabbro Lake (great fishing and extremely scenic), continuing into the Kawishiwi River system of the North and South Kawishiwi River back to River Point. This entire route follows a gentle downstream path. Good option of an entry pint to access Bald Eagle Lake and #33 Little Gabbro Lake when that entry point’s permits are sold out.
River Point is the only and closet outfitter to Little Isabella River entry point.
#84, Snake River (1 permit daily-Paddle Only)
Access is a 160-rod portage to Snake River & several short portages before reaching Bald Eagle Lake. Back-up option to access Bald Eagle Lake and #33 Little Gabbro Lake when that entry point’s permits are sold out, or when permits are not available for a specific date in the canoeing season. Very short paddle into Bald Eagle Lake, but there is a long portage at the beginning, which can be rather brushy, and often this entry point has low water levels.
River Point is the only and closet outfitter to Snake River entry point.
The season's grand fall finale is great for canoeing the BWCA
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