BEST PLACE TO CANOE - 2005
St. Louis River
It is a given that the best canoeing in Minnesota, and some of the best canoeing in North America, lies in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. If you are serious about canoeing, you already know this. There is little point in singing the praises of the place to you because you've already scheduled your annual trip. But if you are a normal, car-dependent, lazy person--in other words, a regular Minnesotan--you probably want a less demanding experience. It's not that you don't enjoy a beautiful day on a remote, wild waterway. You're just not much for portaging or overnight camping or complying with the BWCA's stringent food and drink regulations. You're looking for something along these lines: You want to spend your day on a river that has serviceable access for the drop-off and pick-up car. You want to paddle for five or six hours. Come evening, you want to strap the canoe to the roof of your car and head back to your house or cabin or motel, where you can ruminate on the grandeur of nature while not being menaced by biting insects. In other words, you want to take a day trip on the St. Louis River. For the novice or intermediate canoeist, the St. Louis offers a perfect range of options. Most of the middle stretches of the river--say, in the vicinity of Floodwood--are relatively slow and easy to navigate. But every few miles brings a set of rapids. In low water conditions, your average spaz can handle the river with little trouble. When the water is higher and moving faster, you might want to make sure your partner is both competent and relatively sober. From the Twin Cities, it takes about three hours to reach Floodwood, so expect to spend a good chunk of time in the car.