Superior National Forest to Reopen Portions of the BWCAW, National Forest Lands

DULUTH, Minn. – The Superior National Forest is reopening the BWCA later this week due to recent rains, cooling temperatures, and progress made on fires.

Forest officials say the BWCA will reopen Saturday but closures will remain in place near the still-active John Ek and Whelp fires.

Portions of the BWCAW closed due to the Crooked Lake fires in Canada will also reopen.

The closure of Forest Service land at the Upper Gunflint Trail remains in place.

“We’re thrilled to reopen some of our public lands to visitors. The drought is not over but we’re starting to see more rain and lower temperatures. These conditions moderate fire activity and lessen the chance of new fires showing up,” said Connie Cummins, supervisor for the Superior National Forest.

Forest officials say if you had a previously reserved permit for after September 4, your permit is still valid.

Reservations will be live starting September 2 at

Fire restrictions will remain in place for the entire Forest. Open flames are prohibited, including campfires and charcoal grills.

Visitors may use propane or gas-powered devices with on/off switches.

The Forest is evaluating other current closure orders with our state partners and will notify the public when we have additional updates.

Reservations for available permits began at noon on Thursday.

This lead to area outfitting companies in Ely being flooded with calls and questions about this weekend’s opening.

“We’re really excited to that it’s opening up to get people getting our canoes back out in the woods. As well as getting people up to Ely and to our store. We’ll get rolling. It’s pretty exciting,” Piragis Northwoods Employee, Drew Brockett says.

These local businesses say the reopening couldn’t have worked out any better as the fall is a great time of the year to camp in the BWCA.

“September has been getting busier and busier every year. It kinda used to be the secret time when the bugs are gone and the fall colors are out to get out in the wilderness for a trip. I think the secret is out for how good fall can be for a canoe trip,” Ely Outfitting Company Owner, Jason Zabokrtsky says.

For the Ely Outfitting Company, they are currently working on getting staff back after losing 100% of their business because of the closure.

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