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21938
Minnesota

Off the Map: Voyageurs National Park & Canoe Country

Paddle and hike in one of the few places in the Lower 48 where nature’s vastness and grandeur can leave us in awe — Minnesota's famed boundary waters.
Rating (4.5)
Program No. 21938RJ
Length
8 days
Starts at
1,649
Minnesota

Off the Map: Voyageurs National Park & Canoe Country

Paddle and hike in one of the few places in the Lower 48 where nature’s vastness and grandeur can leave us in awe — Minnesota's famed boundary waters.
Length
8 days
Starts at
1,649
Program No. 21938 RJ
Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
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DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Jun 12 - Jun 19, 2022
Starting at
1,649
Aug 7 - Aug 14, 2022
Starting at
1,649
Aug 21 - Aug 28, 2022
Starting at
1,649
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Jun 12 - Jun 19, 2022
Starting at
2,549
Aug 7 - Aug 14, 2022
Starting at
2,549
Aug 21 - Aug 28, 2022
Starting at
2,549

At a Glance

Beloved by generations of canoeists and wilderness enthusiasts, Minnesota's boundary waters is one of North America’s truly untouched places. Go off the map to discover the beauty of Minnesota's North Shore, Burntside Lake and Voyageurs National Park – the only water-based wilderness park in the U.S. Gain a deeper connection with nature as you leave modern technology at home and learn about the region's geology on hikes and canoe adventures through remote landscapes and to hidden waterfalls, ancient pine forests and legendary gold mines. Study the conservationists who are the heroes behind this unspoiled nook of North America as you immerse yourself in the beautiful land they’ve tried so hard to protect.
Activity Level
Outdoor: Spirited
Walking 2-5 miles a day and canoeing for 1-2 hours on flat water.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 13 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Uncover the best of the Great North Woods as you’re led by celebrated author, musician and wilderness expert Douglas Wood, and join him in exploring the famed home of Sigurd Olson.
  • Explore Doug’s own Fawn Island on Rainy Lake, and the nearby Mallard Island of wilderness champion Ernest Oberholtzer.
  • Enjoy paddling outings on Burntside Lake and gorgeous Lake Kabetogama, and a day-long boat-adventure to Historic Kettle Falls, on the U.S-Canada border, accessible only by boat or plane.

General Notes

This program is part of our “Off the Map” series, exploring truly remote areas of the United States as a way to connect with local culture and landscapes, and disconnect with the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives. Our goal is to bring you to places that have limited access to Wi-Fi, cell service and other technology so you can enjoy authentic learning experiences without modern distractions.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Douglas Wood
Douglas Wood has been called "Minnesota's Renaissance Man." An author, artist, naturalist, musician and wilderness leader, he is the creator of 38 books for adults and children, and the recipient of many honors and awards. As a group leader, he has led scores of trips from southern Minnesota's Bluff Country to the Northwest Territories, focusing not just on the natural world of geography and geology, flora and fauna, but on the timeless relationship between nature and the human spirit.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Douglas Wood
Douglas Wood View biography
Douglas Wood has been called "Minnesota's Renaissance Man." An author, artist, naturalist, musician and wilderness leader, he is the creator of 38 books for adults and children, and the recipient of many honors and awards. As a group leader, he has led scores of trips from southern Minnesota's Bluff Country to the Northwest Territories, focusing not just on the natural world of geography and geology, flora and fauna, but on the timeless relationship between nature and the human spirit.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
A Wilderness Within: The Life of Sigurd F. Olson
by David Backes
Wilderness Days
by Sigurd Olson
The Hidden Forest
by Sigurd Olson
Keeper of the Wild: The Life of Ernest Oberholtzer
by Joe Paddock
The Singing Wilderness
by Sigurd Olson
Toward Magnetic North: The Oberholtzer-Magee 1912 Journey to Hudson Bay
by Ernest Oberholtzer
Runes of the North
by Sigurd Olson
Of Time and Place
by Sigurd Olson
The Lonely Land
by Sigurd Olson
Reflections of the North Country
by Sigurd Olson
Listening Point
by Sigurd Olson
The Voyageur
by Grace Lee Nute
Open Horizons
by Sigurd Olson
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8 days
7 nights
20 meals
7 B 6 L 7 D
DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Duluth, MN
D
Days Inn

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m. Remember to bring your nametag (sent previously).

Afternoon: Program Registration & Orientation: 4:00 p.m. After you check in and have your room assignment, join us at the Road Scholar table to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing the up-to-date schedule that reflects any changes, other important information, and to confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in. Orientation. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. The Group Leader is also our primary instructor and will lead field trips with our Assistant Group Leader. Unless noted otherwise, transportation for program-related activities will be via 15-passenger vans. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: Across the street at Black Woods Grill.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
2
Gooseberry Falls, Split Rock Lighthouse, Hike Shovel Point
Silver Bay
B,L,D
AmericInn Lodge & Suites Silver Bay

Activity note: Getting in/out of vans; driving about 120 miles throughout the day, approximately 3.5 hours total riding time. Walking up to 3 miles; crushed rock trails, paved trails, forested trails with roots and rocks.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will check out of the hotel, hop into the vans, and set out for Lake Superior’s North Shore to explore beautiful Gooseberry Falls State Park and its trails. From the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources: “Gooseberry Falls is the gateway to the North Shore. It is known for its spectacular waterfalls, river gorge, Lake Superior shoreline, Civilian Conservation Corps log and stone structures, and north woods wildlife.”

Lunch: Along the shore, we will have sack lunches.

Afternoon: Back in the vans, we’ll continue exploring the North Shore with a field trip to Split Rock Lighthouse State Park with Lake Superior’s most famous lighthouse. It was built because of a storm in November 1905 that wrecked nearly 30 ships. When construction was completed five years later, it became an iconic focal point, thanks not only to its life-saving light but also because of its location with breathtaking views. Next, we’ll ride to Tettegouche State Park and hike out to Shovel Point. The park — formed by ancient lava flows — comprises rugged, semi-mountainous terrain; stretches of Lake Superior shoreline; lakes, rivers, waterfalls; and pristine forest. At Shovel Point, we’ll have stunning views of the shoreline, sea caves, a sea stack, the mouth of the Baptism River, and Palisade Head. After our field trips, we’ll ride to the AmericInn Lodge and check in.

Dinner: At the lodge.

Evening: We will be joined by noted author, woodsman, and wilderness expert Douglas Wood, who will share an essay from his new memoir “Deep Woods, Wild Waters” published by University of Minnesota Press. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
3
Sigurd Olson House, Listening Point, Canoeing
Ely, MN
B,L,D
Super 8 Ely Minnesota

Activity note: Getting in/out of vans; driving about 150 miles throughout the day, approximately 4 hours total riding time. Getting in/out of canoes, paddling less than 1 mile. Walking less than 1 mile; forested trails with rocks and tree roots.

Breakfast: At the lodge.

Morning: We will check out, board the vans, and ride to Ely. We’ll continue learning about the geology and natural history of the area with commentary by our Group Leader as we go. Arriving in Ely, we will visit Sigurd Olson’s house and writing shack. Olson (1899-1982) became a conservationist in the 1920s and many years later helped to write the Wilderness Act that became law in 1964. Living in Ely for most of his life, he as a prolific writer, dedicated to the conviction that provided vital spiritual experiences. His house on Listening Point and “The Shack” — a small cabin on Burntside Lake where he wrote — are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Lunch: At the Sigurd Olson House.

Afternoon: Next, we will take a short ride out to Olson’s cabin and personal retreat on beautiful Burntside Lake, gateway to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. We will listen to essays from Olson’s books, then off the shore in canoes and paddle out to Pine Island. This state scientific and natural area is home to 400-year-old pines. After exploring on the island, we will paddle back to the vans.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Kawishiwi Falls, Wolf Center, Molter Museum, Bear Center
Ely, MN
B,L,D
Super 8 Ely Minnesota

Activity note: Getting in/out of vans; driving about 30 miles throughout the day, approximately 1 hour total riding time. Hiking up to 2 miles; forested trails, inside exhibit areas of interpretive centers.

Breakfast: At a local restaurant.

Morning: We will ride to Kawishiwi Falls and hike along the trail. “Kawishiwi” is an Ojibwe name that means “river full of beaver or muskrat houses.” The trail around it has been used by Native Americans, explorers, and voyageurs for many generations. We’ll then ride to the International Wolf Center that advances the survival of wolf populations by teaching about wolves, their relationship to wild lands, and the human role in their future. We’ll have an educational session with members of the staff. After our field trips, we’ll ride to nearby Ely City Park.

Lunch: At the city park, we’ll have sack lunches.

Afternoon: We’ll ride to the Dorothy Molter Museum. Known as the “Root Beer Lady,” Dorothy (1907-1986) was the last non-indigenous resident of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The museum that honors her preserves and interprets the Northwoods wilderness heritage she lived. Next on our exploration agenda is the North American Bear Center, a wildlife educational facility that helps people learn about bear behavior, ecology, and relations with humans. We will meet and hear from Center staff and have time to view and explore the exhibits independently. We’ll then set out on a hike along the Trezona Trail that goes around Miner’s Lake in Ely, an old iron ore mine that has since filled in with water. NOTE: Depending on timing and local conditions, this hike may take place after dinner.

Dinner: At the Boathouse in downtown Ely.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
5
Voyageurs National Park, Study Cruise to Kettle Falls Hotel
International Falls, MN
B,L,D
AmericInn-International Falls

Activity note: Getting in/out of vans; driving about 140 miles throughout the day, approximately 3 hours total riding time. Getting on/off a boat; riding 60 miles round-trip. Walking up to 1 mile; graded crushed rock trails.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will check out of the hotel and ride to the Rainy Lake Visitor Center, gateway to Voyageurs National Park. We will then board the park boat “Voyageur” and set off on a 60-mile round trip down the wild and stunningly beautiful east arm of Rainy Lake, passing dozens of islands and enjoying expansive views of lakes, bald eagles, and more. We will reach the historic Kettle Falls Hotel, accessible only by boat or plane and a fixture on the landscape for more than a century. A National Park ranger will provide expert commentary.

Lunch: At the historic Kettle Falls Hotel.

Afternoon: Back aboard the “Voyageur,” we will begin our return voyage back to the Rainy Lake Visitor Center. We’ll have a different look at the lake and learn more about this incredible part of the planet. Returning to the hotel, we’ll have some time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: At Thunderbird Lodge on Rainy Lake.

Evening: Douglas Wood will read passages from his book “Fawn Island” and “Granddad’s Prayers of the Earth.” The remainder of the evening is at leisure.

DAY
6
Oberholzer’s House on Mallard Island, Fawn Island
International Falls, MN
B,L,D
AmericInn-International Falls

Activity note: Getting in/out of vans; driving about 30 miles throughout the day, approximately 1 hour total riding time. Walking up to 1 mile; forested trails.

Breakfast: At a local restaurant.

Morning: We will get in the vans and ride to Rainy Lake with commentary by our Group Leader as we go.

Lunch: At Fawn Island, we’ll have sack lunches.

Afternoon: Our next field trip will be to historic Mallard Island, home of wilderness warrior Ernest Oberholtzer (1884-1997). We’ll learn about his role in protecting the Quetico-Superior area and explore his residence, now under stewardship of the non-profit Ernest C. Oberholtzer Foundation that maintains the island home as a place of inspiration, renewal, and connection to the natural world. After the field trip, we’ll ride to nearby Thunderbird Lodge on Rainy Lake.

Dinner: At Thunderbird Lodge.

Evening: Douglas Wood will read passages from his book “Fawn Island” and “Granddad’s Prayers of the Earth.” Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
7
Paddling Canoe from Woodenfrog Point on Lake Kabetogama
Duluth, MN
B,L,D
Days Inn

Activity note: Getting in/out of vans; driving about 150 miles throughout the day, approximately 4 hours total riding time. Getting in/out of canoes; paddling up to 2 miles, approximately 2 hours. Walking up to 1 mile; forested trails.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will check out of the hotel, hope into the vans and ride to Lake Kabetogama for a field trip by canoe to explore Lake Kabetogama and the Grassy Islands. We’ll learn about the geology and natural history of the lake and the area as we paddle along 2 billion year old rocks.

Lunch: At Woodenfrog Point we will have sack lunches.

Afternoon: We will hop into the vans and begin our ride back to Duluth and check in to the hotel before dinner.

Dinner: At Black Woods Grill. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: We will gather for a wrap-up session and closing remarks.

DAY
8
Program Concludes
Duluth, MN
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out 8:00 a.m.

Breakfast: At the hotel. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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