Great glaciers carved the physical features of what is today known as the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) by scraping and gouging rock. The glaciers left behind rugged cliffs and crags, canyons, gentle hills, towering rock formations, rocky shores, sandy beaches and several thousand lakes and streams, interspersed with islands and surrounded by forest. The BWCAW is a unique area located in the northern third of the Superior National Forest in northeastern Minnesota. Over 1 million acres in size, it extends nearly 150 miles along the International Boundary adjacent to Canada’s Quetico Provincial Park and is bordered on the west by Voyageurs National Park. The BWCAW contains over 1200 miles of canoe routes, 12 hiking trails and over 2000 designated campsites. Wilderness offers freedom to those who wish to pursue an experience of expansive solitude, challenge and personal integration with nature. Because this area was set aside in 1926 to preserve its primitive character and made a part of the National Wilderness Preservation System in 1964, it allows visitors to canoe, portage and camp in the spirit of the French Voyageurs of 200 years ago.
The Forest Service publication, "Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness: Examining Changes in Use, Users, and Management Challenges” was a study to determine trends in use and user characteristics at the BWCAW, based on data from 1969, 1991, and 2007. These findings may need further investigation and future management action to provide opportunities for meaningful wilderness experiences while protecting wilderness character. This publication was an initial step towards researching and validating our BWCAW Travel Model study.