Explore Ely Minnesota Activies near White Iron Lake

The wilderness canoe country is northern Minnesota’s greatest recreational asset. Outside of its beauty, uniqueness, historical significance and fishing, it has a quality that other lake and forest areas do not possess, its primitive character. This is the magnet that draws people, the fact that here alone in the Midwest one can still see country as it looked before settlement.
— Sigurd F. Olson, Ely naturalist and author

Things to Do

The Ely area offers a wide variety of family activities...fishing, canoeing, hiking, camping, exploring exhibits and museums, mountain biking, photography, golfing, birding, attending festivals and events, or just a relaxing day at the spa. Click on the image to learn about Ely's main attractions. Here's a Calendar of Events!

Places to Eat 

What better way to finish a day of fishing or hiking than with a juicy steak, a crisp, uniquely arranged salad, or a delectable dessert? Ely offers an array of cuisine that can satisfy any palate. If you're looking for a place to go after dinner, be sure to check out some of Ely's local bars and brew pubs for good drinks.

Places to Shop

Ely's unique natural surroundings are reflected in the uniqueness of its shops and services. From canoe outfitters to hand-made leather moccasins to a world-renowned nature photography gallery, you can find a range of custom goods and services within easy walking distance of downtown Sheridan Street.  


There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness,
that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy, and its charm.
— President Theodore Roosevelt, creator of the Superior National Forest, 1909

The North Woods

The North Woods stretches across our northern states from Minnesota east to New England and blankets most of Canada, giving way to tundra at the Arctic Circle. Its dense forests of pine, spruce, fir, aspen, birch, fir, oaks and maple are speckled with thousands of lakes and rivers, home to one of the most diverse animal, fish and plant biomes on Earth.

In 1909, after a half-century of logging reduced much of the old-growth forest to clearcut, President Teddy Roosevelt created the Superior National Forest, a huge swath of woodlands along Lake Superior to Canada. Thanks, Teddy. 

Canoe Country

The lakes and rivers straddling the Minnesota-Canadian border were waterways for the Voyageurs plying the fur trade in the 1800s. Birch bark canoes of the Chippewas gave way to more modern birch and canvas canoes in the 1900s as fisherman and tourists spilled into the area. Ely became the gateway to our country's largest unspoiled canoe wilderness.

In 1978 the BWCA Wilderness Act was passed by Congress, creating the 1,000,000-acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Today, the BWCA has 1,200 miles of canoeing routes on 1,000 lakes and streams and 2,000 designated campsites. Self-issued day permits are free; a small charge for an overnight permit. 

Places to Discover

The Arrowhead Region of Minnesota spans an area from Duluth to Grand Portage to International Falls. Ely sits smack-dab in the triangle's center, a great home base for day trips east to the North Shore of Lake Superior and west to Voyageurs National Park

In and around Ely there are many places to explore and many hidden gems to discover. Ever walked the trail of the Voyageurs? Or been in a historic mine? Ever hiked a trail in a national forest? You won't run out of options.