Superior National Forest reopens portions of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and National Forest lands

Forest Service News Release

Superior National Forest reopens portions of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and National Forest lands 

Closures remain in place for the Greenwood, John Ek and Whelp fires

Duluth, Minn., September 1, 2021 — The Superior National Forest is reopening some areas of the Forest, including the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, given recent rains, cooling temperatures and progress made on active fire. However, certain closures will remain in place where active fires remain on the landscape. 

The Forest is lifting the full closure of the BWCAW, the Crooked Lake closure near the fires in Canada. The Forest is slightly modifying closure maps for the Greenwood Fire, and the John Ek and Whelp Fires. The closure of Forest Service land at the Upper Gunflint Trail remains in place. 

“We’re thrilled to reopen some of our public lands to visitors. The drought is not over but we’re starting to see more rain and lower temperatures. These conditions moderate fire activity and lessen the chance of new fires showing up,” said Connie Cummins, supervisor for the Superior National Forest. 

“After talking with our fire experts about the latest data and weather conditions, we believe we have the capacity to manage the potential risk to the public of wildfire in some portions of the Forest,” Cummins added. 

What this announcement means for visitors: 

  • Full BWCAW Closure is being lifted: Portions of the BWCAW will reopen, effective September 4, including the Crooked Lake area near Canada. 
    • If you had a previously reserved permit for after September 4, your permit is still valid.  
    • Available quota permits will be live for reservation on Thursday, September 2 at 12:00 PM on
  • BWCAW Closure due to John Ek & Whelp fires: A new closure area has been drawn for the John Ek and Whelp Fires: Seagull Lake EP #54/#54A/L, Saganaga Lake EP #55/#55A/J, Missing Link Lake EP #51, Brant Lake EP #52, Cross Bay Lake EP #50, Kekakbic Trail EP #56, Skipper and Portage Lakes EP #49, Kawishiwi Lake EP #37, Hog Creek EP #36. 
Map of the John Ek and Whelp Fire Closure/USDA Forest Service.
  • Upper Gunflint Trail closure: Forest lands and roads along the upper Gunflint Trail remain closed. However, the Gunflint Trail and private land and resorts are open. Trails End and Iron Lake campgrounds remain closed.
Forest lands and roads along the upper Gunflint Trail closed in the area
shown in this map/USDA Forest Service
  • Greenwood Fire closure: A closure remains in place for the Greenwood Fire, however it has been slightly modified to open the Stony Spur and a portion of prospector Loop Trail, which allows ATV riders to safety ride from Babbitt to Ely, Minn. The following entry points are closed due to Greenwood Fire: Island River EP #34, Isabella Lake EP #35, Bog Lake EP #67, Little Isabella River #75, Snake River EP #84, and Pow Wow Trail EP #86.
Map of the Greenwood Fire Closure/USDA Forest Service. 

Of the 65 fires reported on the Forest in 2021, nearly half, or 29, have been caused by humans. To minimize risk of human-caused fires, fire restrictions remain in place across the entire Forest. Open flames are not allowed, including campfires and charcoal grills. However, visitors may use propane or gas-powered devices with on/off switches.  

“Although risk is being mitigated by the change in the seasons, it’s not completely eliminated. In the fall, we can get an alignment of low humidity, high winds, and high temperatures and a fire can get up and moving. This has happened in the past. The typical fire season for northern Minnesota extends through September,” said Cummins.  

The Forest is evaluating other current closure orders with our state partners and will notify the public when we have additional updates. Please visit the forest website for more information or call your local district office.