Rustic Campgrounds: Superior National Forest

On our way to the start of our river journey in Wisconsin Kyle and I spent a few days in Superior National Forest in Minnesota; this area is also known as the “Boundary Water Canoe Area Wilderness” or “BWCA”, because the lakes up there border with Canada. I wanted to write about it a bit and provide some information because it is such an amazing place and I encourage everyone to try to visit sometime in their journey of life. We were there in the middle of Summer and while a bit buggy, it was beautiful weather and temperatures. I have heard that Spring or early Fall are also great times to visit because the bugs are a bit subdued. Anyway, all throughout the forest they have what are called “rustic campgrounds”. These campgrounds are completely free, first-come-first-serve sites, and you are allowed to stay up to 14 days. There are 18 rustic campgrounds in the forest and there are 3-9 sites at each campground. There are picnic tables and a fire ring at each site and most of them have lake access. They also all have access to a porta-potty type bathroom. Although you do have to take a dirt road for about 1-2 hours in order to reach the campground, my Mazda towing Solvi did just fine and the directions and signs provided by the Forest Service (called the Department of Natural Resources up here) made getting around pretty easy. The signs all clean, easy to read, have arrows and mileage information for you. While the sites are a bit rugged without water and electricity, the fact that you can drive your car right up to the site makes it much more do-able for those who don’t like backpack type camping. But as the name “canoe area” implies, its wonderful to bring a small boat to enjoy the lake.

Now that I have explained the amenities, let me just say that growing up in Utah I have been to lots of beautiful lakes, forests, and campgrounds- but something about this place was different. The amount of wildflowers, wild life, and isolation from the busy world was very special. We absolutely loved the lake access at our site as we swam and took the boat out daily. The whole time we were there our pace of life slowed immensely; we often took time to just sit and observe our surroundings. One situation that stands out in my mind was the afternoon I decided to do some laundry. We had been living out of my car for over a week and were getting low on clean clothes so I set up my chair a couple feet off the shore and grabbed our biodegradable soap. There I spent over two hours hand washing each garment, scrubbing and rubbing,


and working the soap through with my hands. I would then pile up the soapy clothes on a rock and continue on.Once all the clothes had been washed by hand I took them individually out into a deeper part of the lake and rinsed them. Once rinsed and rung out as best I could, I hung them on some line that I put up between trees. Like clockwork, as soon as all the clothes were hung, the sun poked through the clouds and a nice breeze came across the lake. There our clothes dried in the sunshine and breeze. Kyle mentioned the next day when he put on a clean outfit that he felt like his clothes were cleaner and fresher than usual- maybe he was just being nice, but I also thought they had a different feel to them. Doing laundry by hand next to a lake doesn’t really sound like it would be all that influential, but it was special to me. For the two hours it took to get it all done well, my mind was clear. I was focusing on what I was doing, enjoying the cool lake water rushing over my hands, the breeze as I would hang up each garment. Due to the isolation of where we were I was able to enjoy doing laundry, something that used to be a chore to me.

On other days we would spend our afternoon laying on a towel right next to the lake. Books, music, games, water, beer, cameras, hats, sunscreen, and bug spray scattered around us. We spent hours and hours just laying in the sun, randomly getting up to swim in the lake or take the boat on a sail. I had some fun with the wild daisies and attempted to take some close up photos.


Due to the fact that there was no cell phone service, no people around, and neither of us had any obligations to anything or anyone else, we spent our days going on impulse. If we felt like just laying and talking in the sunshine, that’s what we would do- for hours. If we felt like going on walk or gathering fire wood, we would do that. It takes a bit of time to get used to, but spending a whole day doing nothing but what comes to you through instinct is rather refreshing, I strongly encourage you to try it out.



As I mentioned above, most of the sites throughout the forest have lake access. The lake we stayed at, Kawishiwi Lake, had a boat launch that we were able to pull the car and trailer up to, and then we took the boat around the bend to our individual campsite. Therefore we could keep Solvi in the water right near the tent which was nice as we could watch over her and also take her out whenever we wanted. One afternoon Kyle took Solvi sailing and I stayed on shore taking some photos and footage for the time lapse.


Solvi‘s home while we camped

Overall Kyle and I had the most spectacular week at Kawishiwi Lake Rustic Campground in Superior National Forest. The quality time we spent together and with the boat was much needed after so much work and effort to get the boat finished and towed up north. There was one day that I just sat in my camp chair next to the water and said my thank you’s. I was just feeling so grateful for all the experiences and beautiful places we were able to enjoy that I needed to make sure to thank the universe for providing it all. So as I sign off, I’d like to give a challenge to anyone reading this. Sometime today or tonight, take 1-10 minutes, whatever you can give yourself, and go outside. Once you are outside find a quiet place to sit or stand- be quiet and still. Observe what is around you, pay attention to smells, sounds, and sensations that come to you. Breathe. Say five thank you’s for people, things, or experiences in your life that bring you joy. The world is a beautiful place and if we could all just take a few minutes each day to appreciate it, I feel as though the world truly would be a better place 🙂


Check out these links for more information on camping and visiting Superior National Forest:…/stelprdb5295334.pdf

3 thoughts on “Rustic Campgrounds: Superior National Forest”

  1. Thank you for letting me experience that natural environment with you. My heart is full with a peace that can only come from our natural world. Your words are medicine for the stress of our technical world today.
    I know you will continue to enjoy your steps back in time.


    1. Connie,
      Thank you so much for your kind and encouraging words. I am glad that you felt you were able to experience the natural environment along with us. That is my goal 🙂 Miss you lots and hope you’re doing well!


  2. What a beautiful and lovely description of your stay in northern MN. I was researching Kawishiwi Lake rustic campground and came across your post 🙂


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