Boundary Waters
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Burntside Lake
BSA Base
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Other Lodging

Boundary Waters

BSA Base
Burntside Lodge
In Town
Other Places
Van Vac
Your other options are one more resort on Burntside Lake and a dozen spread out across six lakes in the Ely area. Just remember none of these resorts are new. They have all been here for quite a while and have their loyal following who renew reservations from year to year. Several of them do not even advertise because they have not had openings for years. This means if you wish to stay at one, you need to make reservations at the earliest possible date. You stand a much better chance if you can come in May or June since longtime guests come in July and August. Each resort has its own flavor, but they're all on great canoe routes, and they all boast great fishing. These are family run so you'll receive lots of individual attention whether you're planning a day's paddling trip or need a fishing guide.
Anderson's Resort is at the eastern edge of Burntside Lake. It's a great collection of rooms and cabins with a dock and yard. But it is very popular, with the same families reserving the same dates for half a century. Getting a reservation will be difficult. 3133 Fireside Drive, Ely 55731. 218-365-5286.
However, if Burntside Lake seems too big and rough for your tastes, there are others. Little Long Lake is narrow and deep, wedged between forested ridges which separate it from Burntside Lake on the north and Shagawa Lake on the south. It gets much less wind and is full of walleye, pike, small and largemouth bass, black crappie, and bluegill. Fish sampled in Little Long are larger than other area lakes, due to the presence of smelt, a prime forage minnow.

A 45 rod portage connects to Burntside Lake, and a 320 rod portage to Bass Lake, allowing overnight or multinight canoeing trips with Little Long Lake as a base. With only two resorts and some private cabins on the lake, Little Long is much less used than Burntside or Shagawa.
The first resort on Little Long Lake is Camp Easton, which was a boy's camp and in 2008 became a commercial family resort. There are cabins (left), a dining hall (right) , waterfront (above), and program of events. Mom would not have to cook, and kids could be enrolled in swimming, fishing, canoeing, nature study and hiking. There are canoes and motorboats for rent. The Waterfront has a beach, docks and bath house with rest rooms and showers. 1729 Camp Easton Road.
Shig-Wak Resort is at the other end of Little Long Lake from Camp Easton. It is only eight miles out of Ely and faces directly onto the Echo Trail, a major paved highway. There are seven very modern cabins and three "kitchenettes." Cabins have modern baths and fully equipped kitchens. They face directly on the water across a broad, level lawn. There are boats for rent or you can bring your own, and canoes are free to guests.
Adjacent to the dock is a small store, snack bar, beach area, and playground. Bonfires are held each evening, and there are beach volleyball and horse shoe courts. It sounds like a family resort, but at heart Shig-Wak is a hard core fishing camp. Little Long is considered by many to be the best fishing lake in the area immediately accersible to Ely, and ShigWak offers crossover trips to neighboring lakes, and fly in trips to more distant waters.

Those are done by Van Air, a local outfit specializing in dropping off fishermen and their canoes on remote lakes, many of them along the Canadian border. You can also take a sightseeing flight, or a dinner flight up to Crane Lake.

1522 Echo Trail, Ely 55731. 800-777-4413.

The next lake is Shagawa. It's not as big as Burntside, but is still large enough for wind to kick up strong waves. Most of the Ely fishing guides use Shagawa for their one day trips because it's right next to town and is so full of fish you're almost guaranteed a successful experience (even though Little Long Lake fish tend to be bigger).
An interesting canoeing trip is to paddle the Burntside River out of the southwest corner of Burntside Lake and down to the west side of Shagawa. You'll see lots of wildlife and probably catch lots of fish. It's a good option on a windy day when the big lakes are too choppy for canoes. You have two lodging options on Shagawa.

Grand Ely Lodge is modelled after the 1900s era lodges of the Western national parks. It's a plush facility, with docks, fishing guides, restaurant, bar, exercise room, gift shop, and other amenities. The big lobby shown at right is complete with huge fireplace, wood and leather chairs, and canoes, antlers, paddles and other north country artifacts hanging from walls and rafters. Grand Ely Lodge has its loyal guests, who come up every year for a week or two. Its location on the edge of town gives you convenient access to the wolf and bear centers, Dorothy Moulter Center, restaurants, shops, and outfitters. You can either hire one of the fishing guides, who will meet you in the lobby and drive you down to his boat, you can rent a canoe or motorboat from the lodge, or you can bring your own, park it in the lodge's lot, and launch it from their dock or boat ramp whenever you want. There are several bicycling loops available from Grand Ely Lodge. So if you want to see the area, want to soak up the local atmosphere and scenery, but like a very civilized approach to your wilderness, want to be close to town and do not want to cook, this would be the place for you. Grand Ely has the added advantage of being open year round. All but one of the cabin resorts out on the lakes close during the off season.

Jim Orcutt is their fishing guide. We've used him and he's excellent. During a month when everybody was complaining about poor fishing, we caught fish as fast as we could bait our hooks and reel them in. Jim knows Lake Shagawa like the back of his hand, and knows the other area lakes pretty well. He'll take you out on half day or all day trips. He's especially good with kids, even the ones who have never been fishing before. He is in demand, however, so you need to make a reservation before you arrive in Ely.

400 North Pioneer Road, Ely 55731. 800-365-5070.

Lady Bug Lodge is the other Shagawa Lake choice. 1950s style resort has eight cabins, all with modern bathrooms and kitchens. Dock has canoes, pontoon boats and motorboats. Internet access, unusual for the area. Best fish guiding service of any lodge. 2279 Grant McMahan Blvd. 866-200-8400.
If you want to get further back into the wilderness, half an hour out the Echo Trail is Wilderness Lodge on Big Lake. It's a cabin resort without restaurant. There are 15 cabins, all with modern kitchens and bathrooms. There are also two islands with tent camps and cots already set up. You can rent these sites by the night or the week. Big Lake is rated one of the best Walleye lakes in the Boundary Waters, and is pretty good for most other fish, too. There are a lot of islands on this lake if you want to do your own camping. But Big Lake accesses several other outstanding canoe routes, so if you're not interested in being close to town but you're coming for a hard core wilderness canoeing week, this would be a great place. Canoes are provided free to guests and they can process your permits for you or outfit your trip. Several hiking trails also fan out from Big Lake. One possible problem for some people is you're out of range of phone service or internet access. The lodge lists "booster service," but it didn't help our phones. There is a basic grocery store, so if you stock up on your way in through Ely, you may be able to avoid any trips back into town.

East of Ely on the Kawishiwi Road is Silver Rapids Lodge, sitting where the water rushes down from White Iron Lake into Farm Lake. Silver Rapids offers both cabins and motel style accomodations, with restaurant, bar, dock and canoes. There are multi day loop trips around several lakes and rivers, but they don't take you into the actual Boundary Waters wilderness. Silver Rapids offers the usual guide services and partial outfitting, and there are hiking trails leading out in several directions. The lodge, as you can see in the photo at right, is directly on a paved road. The restaurant is full service, so after a long day on the water, if you don't feel like cooking, you won't need a trip into town.

459 Kawishiwi Trail, Ely 800-950-9425.

Out Fernberg Road east of town, on Jasper Lake, is Northwind Lodge. This is the only resort on Jasper, five miles from the Canadian border. The cabins are nestled in dense forest with a loud creek cascading down the middle of the property. There's a 1962 cabin built on an island in the middle of the lake which you can rent by the night or the week, but it has a limit of two people. There are eight cabins and two apartments back on land. Jasper has great fishing. It does not become as hostile on windy days, and connects with other lakes, so you can easily piece together a variety of day trips, overnights or weeklong expeditions. The Baltich family established this resort in 1939 and continues to run it, taking great pride in their hard core northwoods ambience. The Red Rock store stocks outdoor equipment and some food items. This is another case of the same families coming back every year for three generations, so make reservations early. PO Box 490, 2267 Fernberg Road. Ely 55731. 800-280-1078. www. visitnorthwind.coms

Further out Fernberg Road and left on Moose Lake Road you come to LaTourell's Resort. Their claim to fame is that they are the last outpost of civilization. From their docks heading northeast toward the Canadian border, it's all water and forest. LaTourell's offers ten A frame cabins and the usual store, docks, boats, guides, outfitting and support services. They're on Moose Lake, a big, deep lake connecting to a network of other lakes and famous for huge fish. LaTourell's touts the fact that they are the closest resort to famous Basswood Lake, which sits on the U.S. - Canadian border and is considered the best fishing lake in North America. But LaTourell's offers something special : they hold deed to a couple of campsites on Basswood Lake. For $800 per person, they will drop you off there and come back in a week and pick you up. You'll have a full sized wall tent with cots, screened kitchen tent with table, chairs and stove, all camping gear, all food, and a boat or canoe to use fishing or exploring. PO box 239, Ely 55731. 800-365-4531.
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