Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (Summer), Minnesota
The basecamp for the second Outward Bound school founded in the United States is located on the edge of the most spectacular canoe wilderness in North America. In 1964, Congress designated the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) as one of the first federally protected wilderness areas in the United States. The BWCA remains the largest wilderness east of the Rockies and north of Florida’s Everglades, and is the nation’s most visited wilderness area. This 1.1 million-acre expanse stretches 200 miles along the U.S.-Canadian border, and the rugged maze of pristine lakes and bogs spill into one another over roaring rapids and down quiet, slow-moving streams. Here the trees grow to the lakeshores--a canopy of pine, aspen and birch that thin where the shoreline breaks into rocky cliffs and granite slabs. Outward Bound students can expect to share the wilderness with the bald eagle, gray wolf, and the loon, a red-eyed, black headed water bird that can swim underwater as long as 20 minutes.
In order to travel through the Boundary Waters, the canoe is the perfect tool--paddle across wind-whipped waves on lakes the size of small towns or glide across the glassy surfaces of tiny chains of lakes, all formed by glaciation around 10,000 years ago. This lakeland wilderness is part of the Canadian Shield, a geological formation that comprises portions of the earth’s most ancient exposed rock, some of which is 3 billion years old!
Temperatures in this area range from 50-85 degrees in the summer, 30-55 degrees in the spring and fall, and remain below freezing most of the winter.
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (Winter), Minnesota
The lush green forests become silent as winter settles in. Everything is frozen, quiet, covered in white snow. The air is crisp, cold and clean. More than a million acres of snow-covered forest and frozen lakes lie open for exploration on Voyageur Outward Bound’s winter dog sled and cross country ski expeditions in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA). In 1964, Congress designated the BWCA as one of the first federally protected wilderness areas in the United States and it remains the largest wilderness east of the Rockies and north of Florida’s Everglades, and is the nation’s most visited wilderness area.
A majority of those visitations occur in the spring, summer, and fall, however, and the winter in the BWCA is a time for a truly remote winter adventure. Snow glistens and crunches under cross-country skis and the enthusiastic sled dogs teem with anticipation, ready to cover another day’s distance across the snow-laden woods. Students travel in the tradition of the great polar treks in a land of unique beauty and intense silence. Enjoy vast lakes covered in trackless snow, colorful skies sharpened by the cold, and look for signs of moose, fox, and snowshoe hares while listening for the wolves howling late into the night. Brilliant stars perform spectacular displays on a velvet night sky, and any time of year you could see the electric dance of the aurora borealis--the northern lights.
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