Outdoor Recreation

Being surrounded by the 3.9 million acre Superior National Forest has its benefits, and the city of Ely boasts many opportunities to get out and enjoy the great outdoors. Ely is recognized by National Geographic as one of the Best Places to Go Enjoy the Great Outdoors (1 of 2 US cities listed) and made the cut for one of the 25 Best Adventure Towns in the U.S.

Whether its canoeing & kayaking, hiking, biking, skiing, fishing, snowmobiling & trail riding, hunting, birding, camping, dogsledding, or pretty much any other outdoor pursuit you can think of, Ely has something to offer during every season of the year.

Outdoor Recreation in Ely
World Class Fishing in Ely


Imagine a place…

  • where one of Minnesota’s 10,000 spectacular lakes can been seen around every bend
  • where you have access to over a dozen species of game fish – literally at your doorstep
  • where trophy walleyes, bass, pike and trout are plentiful
  • where you’re at the front door of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and world class fishing
  • where a shore lunch isn’t just reserved for that “once a year” fishing trip

Now make your imagination a reality…live, work and fish…in Ely Minnesota.

The mere mention of Ely is synonymous with world-class fishing opportunities. Living in the Ely area means having access to a multitude of popular fish species, from Smallmouth Bass and Walleyes to Lake Trout and Muskies. Ely Minnesota lies within the Superior National Forest and is the Gateway to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, featuring hundreds of canoe access fishing lakes. The Ely area is also home to dozens of motorboat access lakes…home to some of the best fishing anywhere. Now that you mention it, think of us when you think of a place to live, work & FISH…in Ely Minnesota!

Living and working in Ely Minnesota means having some of the best fishing in the country within your reach.

The area boasts some of the finest smallmouth bass fishing in all of North America. World class northern pike live in the hundreds of Ely area lakes, not to mention the nearly 46 lb. Minnesota state record that came from these waters. Whether you’re looking for a walleye dinner or a wall hanger, Ely’s the place.

The famous Boundary Waters Canoe Area is home to Minnesota’s state record walleye, a 17 lb. 9 oz. giant. Lake trout, largemouth bass, rainbow trout, splake, crappies, bluegills, brook trout and perch all add to the fishing mix. Shouldn’t any job come with some fringe benefits? Make Ely your fringe benefit! Live, work, play….and FISH…in Ely Minnesota.


Did you know you can hike all the way to the North Pole from Ely and you’d only have to cross two highways…and they’re both in Canada? This means Ely and the forest country that encompasses the area is vast. With all this space, it’s no wonder why many folks who live here and many that visit, take advantage of the hunting opportunities that exist in the Ely area.

Ely offers a variety of species from whitetail deer to ruffed grouse as well as numerous migratory waterfowl. Whether you are new to hunting or it’s deeply rooted in your family traditions, hunting is a great way to connect with friends and relatives while connecting with nature. Generations of Elyites have made the sport of hunting a part of life. Living in the Ely area can offer you a chance to learn the way of the woods and waters. Come, join us! You too can enjoy the Heritage of Hunting in Ely!

Hunting in Ely
Hiking in Ely

Camping & Hiking

It’s Friday, the weather calls for sunny days and starry nights, and you’re looking for a quick getaway to enjoy the outdoors with family and friends. Ely has you covered with a wide range of camping options just down the road from your Ely home. Several RV parks and resorts offer sites that can accommodate rigs of all sizes and offer full hookups, laundry facilities and access to WiFi. Camping is also available in the many State Parks that dot the surrounding Ely area. There you’ll find a wide variety of options for RV and tent camping as well as camper cabins for those seeking a little more comfort. A wide variety of activities, including swimming, nature programs, geocaching, fishing and trail hiking will keep everyone of all ages entertained throughout your “staycation”. The added bonus? Many of the parks are open in the winter for those wanting to take a day trip and view the beautiful surroundings on cross country skis or snowshoes.

Living in Ely where you’re close to the heart of the Superior National Forest has its advantages, including access to an abundant number of National Forest campgrounds. A full range of options, from fully-developed campgrounds, those with limited facilities, and secluded wilderness sites meet the needs of just about any camper.

With the time you’ll save traveling you’ll arrive in plenty of time to set up camp and gather around the campfire to share stories and outdoor memories.

Ready to hit the trails? A wide variety of options for novice and experienced hikers are available just outside your doorstep.

Located three blocks north of downtown Ely, the Trezona Trail features flat and rolling terrain. At just under 4 miles in length, the mostly-paved trail forms a loop around Miners Lake, a former ore mining pit and passes by the historic Pioneer Mine. The Kawishiwi Falls Trail is another popular trail that’s located just outside of town. The 1.5 mile, relatively easy walking path passes through woods filled with some of Ely’s most common trees including Spruce, Pine, Ash and Maple and takes visitors to stunning views of the Kawishiwi Falls and Fall Lake Dam.

Those looking for longer treks won’t be disappointed by the number of long distance trails in the immediate Ely area. Considered as one of the most scenic byways in Minnesota, the Echo Trail just outside of town serves as the entry point to several trailheads, some with designated camping locations. And, for a true adventure, enthusiasts can drive down beautiful Highway 1, catch a segment or two of the Superior Hiking Trail and be home again before nightfall.

Living in Ely means you can return to your favorite hiking spot whenever the mood strikes.

Snowmobiling & Trail Riding

According to statistics gathered by Vermilion Community College in Ely, the normal snow accumulation in the area for the winter season is a whopping 71.0”! Add in miles of well-groomed trails and you have the perfect conditions for a fantastic sledding experience.

Over 400 miles of trails, including the 165-mile Taconite Trail wind through forests filled with snow-covered trees and landscapes that are difficult to reach on foot during the winter months. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to travel across lakes and connect to other trails. Stop at one of the many trailside lodges along your way to eat a hot meal and warm up next to a cozy fireplace before heading home.

During the warmer months adventure seekers can turn their attention to off-road ATV rides on many of the same trails. Options also include hundreds of miles of roads where riders can scramble up hills, drive through muddy bogs and rock-strewn terrain. And the back-country scenery can’t be beat!

Several local Ely outfitters and businesses rent snowmobiles and ATV’s and can help you locate the trailheads. Gas up your engines and get ready for amazing, high excitement adventures. The opportunities are endless!

Snowmobiling in Ely
Canoeing in Ely

Canoeing & Kayaking

With the BWCAW and over 2000 lakes at your doorstep, canoers and kayakers can find just the right match for a day trip or an extended journey on the water. Hegman Lake has one of the finest examples of original Native American Pictographs and is a perfect option for those seeking a family-friendly day paddle. Plenty of close-to-town lakes offer easy access and plenty of options to stop in a calm inlet for a break and a swim to cool you down on hot summer days.

Talk to any local, and you’ll hear many a story of canoe camping in the BWCAW. Tales of lakes that meander through forests, bogs, and granite cliffs that soar high above shorelines. Tales of wildlife sightings including moose, bears, beavers and wolves. Tales of soaring eagles, listening to the sound of calling loons and the bird songs of Chickadees, Sparrows, Finches, and Grosbeaks, to name just a few. Tales of the vast variety of plants and fruit seen on shorelines and in campsites. Tales of spectacular star gazing and northern lights displays.

As you can imagine, living in the area gives you access to a wealth of knowledge that will make your trip unforgettable. And, if you’re new to the sport, several resorts and outfitters offer rentals, canoeing and kayaking classes and guided trips.


One of the most unique opportunities you’ll have to enjoy the outdoors during the winter months is in Ely dog sledding. Considered as the “Sled Dog Capitol of the U.S.”, several dog sledding outfitters operate in the area and offer a variety of trip options – from half day to day multi-day lodge-to-lodge and tent camping adventures. You’ll be taught how to drive your own team and even take part in feeding and caring for the dogs. It’s a fantastic way to see Ely’s Winter Wonderland while mastering the basics of mushing.

In February, Ely hosts the Wolftrack Classic, a premier 65-mile mid-distance sled dog race through Minnesota’s State Trail System. Many Elyites volunteer to help with vet checks, act as road crossing guards and assist the teams line up at the starting gate.

Some people only dream of running their own dog team or participating in a dog sled race. Live in Ely and make it your reality.

Dogsledding in Ely
Cross-Country Skiing in Ely


Cross-country ski enthusiasts will absolutely love living in Ely. For those with school-aged children, the Ely Nordic Wolves Ski Team offers all students the opportunity to learn how to ski and become technically proficient in both classic and skate skiing.

An array of groomed and ungroomed trails traverse the area in and around Ely. The Hidden Valley Recreation Area has over 25 km of machine-groomed trails and a heated chalet. Right in town, the Trezona Trail has a 6.5 km groomed trail that loops around Miners Lake that can be used by classic and skate skiers alike. Lakes and a large network of backcountry trails provide another great venue that many Elyites use regularly for skiing.

Given the large number of skiing buffs who make Ely their home you’ll find it easy to plan a “meet up” for any time of day. It’s an awesome way to get some exercise and develop new friendships.