Special Places

The Superior NF contains over 445,000 acres of surface water, or about 12 percent of the Forest area. There are almost 2,000 lakes at least 10 acres in size; over 1,300 miles of major streams supporting cold water fisheries; and over 950 miles of major streams supporting warm water fisheries. In addition there are over 2,000 miles of trails for hiking, hunting, riding and more. 


Highlighted Areas

Superior National Forest Scenic Byway

The Superior National Forest Scenic Byway, designated as Forest Highway 11, runs from the taconite town of Silver Bay to the logging town of Aurora.  There are long stretches of unbroken forest along this 54 mile road, giving the driver a good sense of being away from it all.  Several trails and campgrounds are on or near the route for perfect resting areas.

For a brochure describing the Byway in detail, click here. 

Check out the interactive mapping application showcasing the 96 waysides located along the North Shore Scenic Drive (MN Highway 61) between Duluth and Grand Portage along the North Shore of Lake Superior.


A map of the Superior NF Scenic Byway

To visit the national Scenic Byways webpage for more information, click here.

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness


Established in 1964 as Federally Designated Wilderness (pdf), the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is over one million acres of rugged and remote boreal forest in the northern third of the Superior National Forest in northeastern Minnesota.

The BWCAW extends nearly 150 miles along the International Boundary, adjacent to Canada’s Quetico and La Verendrye Provincial Parks, is bordered on the west by Voyageurs National Park, and by Grand Portage National Monument to the east. The BWCAW contains over 1,200 miles of canoe routes, 12 hiking trails and over 2,000 designated campsites. The BWCAW is composed of lakes, islands, rocky outcrops and forest.

The BWCAW is the only large temperate lake-land wilderness in the National Wilderness Preservation System and is renowned for its water-based recreational opportunities. The sculpting of the landscape by powerful glaciers over an immense period of time has left behind a variety of landforms and rocks as well as thousands of lakes and streams, interspersed with islands. This network of connecting waterbodies provides unique opportunities for long distance travel by watercraft—a rare experience within the continental United States.

Prepare for your Wilderness Trip

Successful trips don't just happen. Plan ahead for the BWCAW! Visitors can find solitude, adventure, risk, and excitement but the trip planning begins months before entering the Wilderness.

The BWCA Wilderness is one of the most visited wilderness areas in the country. High visitation translates to the potential for impacts to natural resources. We need your help treading lightly on the Wilderness; to keep it full of solitude and pristine for future visitors like you.

Prior to reserving your permit, please review the following to ensure a wilderness trip is right for you:

Be aware tht wilderness has inherent dangers, and is a primitive setting where you meet nature on its own terms. Trails are not well marked, if they are marked at all. If you are a newcomer to camping, or even an experienced backpacker, but not canoe camper, consider camping outside of the BWCAW on one of the 254 backcountry sites on the Forest, or one of our free rustic campgrounds.  There you can experience many of the same things as you do in the Wilderness, but without the need for permits and with easier access to emergency services.

More About Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness