Gold Mine Camp occupies a secluded spot along the Vermillion River, deep in Minnesota's Superior National Forest. It's an ideal spot for truly getting away from it all. There's no cell phone service, and about the only sound you'll hear is the casting of a reel or the call of an eagle circling overhead.
Walleye, bass, and northern pike fill the 49-mile-long river, which connects Lake Vermillion and Crane Lake. The river is slow moving and tranquil, in keeping with the pace of things at camp. In addition to the abundant fishing, there are a number of hiking trails that wind through the forest. It's not uncommon to see wildlife such as moose and deer roasting marshmallows over an open fire.
After a day on the river or trails, guests retreat to lakeside log cabins located near a handful of barbecue grills and a cleaning house for preparing the day's catch. Some of the two- and three-bedroom cabins can accommodate as many as eight guests, and all of them are outfitted with a full kitchen.
Since the company's founding in 1964, Canadian Waters, Inc. has ushered countless visitors into its over 2 million-acre backyard: the pristine Boundary Waters Canoe Area. For hundreds of years, this ancient network of woods and winding lakes and streams has been used for transportation, fishing, and camping. As an outfitter, Canadian Waters, Inc. helps customers tap into that history. The company organizes multiple- and single-day canoe trips, each of which begins with a briefing. Before anyone sets out, waterproof maps are marked with useful information, ranging from suggested campsites and fishing areas to locations of American Indian pictographs and the place where all socks go when they disappear.
The staff also prepares adventurers to tackle the wilderness for any length of time with customized gear packages. They may include canoes by Mad River, Bell, and Wenonah, as well as freestanding lightweight tents and waterproof personal packs stuffed with freeze-dried foods. The company also rents out satellite phones on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis so that travelers are never too disconnected while they escape from the daily grind.
John and Lynn O'Kane have been dedicated to outfitting explorers for treks for more than 32 years, guided by a wealth of experience and membership in the Professional Paddlesports Association. They offer a variety of services to arm adventurers for canoeing, camping, and other outdoor escapades with complete packages stocked with all the necessary goods, from ultralight aluminum canoes to live bait for fishing. To help visitors make the most of their forays into the wilderness, they offer customized route planning service and select routes most suited to travelers? desires, experience levels, and abilities to follow bread-crumb trails. Back at base, there's a bunkhouse available for rent (upon availability) where campers can enjoy time in Ely before or after they set out on their treks.
For Paradise Outfitters founder Deron DoRight, fishing trips aren't just a hobby, they are his livelihood. As a career angler, Deron has the technical knowledge and hands-on experience necessary to helm Paradise Outfitters' weeklong vacations, half- and full-day fishing trips on Rainy Lake, and two-day excursions at a local lake of the patron's choosing. Though the potential trophies change with the seasons⎯from walleye to pike to smallmouth bass, or the elusive swimming snowman⎯Deron’s aim is always the same: to help passengers enjoy the beauty of the lake and the sport of fishing, perched atop a comfortable 20-foot Ranger. When the waves ice over, two-person aluminum fishing houses and portable shelters shield anglers from chilly winds.
The pristine quality of the remote trails and clearings winding through the Superior National Forest gives new meaning to the word white. There are no people, no cars, and no buildings towering overhead to mar the scene, framed only by majestic cedar groves. The frosty trail and snow-heavy branches whoosh silently past—the only sounds you hear are the rhythmic mushing of the alaskan huskies in front of you and the almost synchronized beating of your own heart. After a meal cooked over a campfire, your trip might end with some hot-tub time, a fireside chat in a private lake house, or listening to the dogs' nighttime chorus of "Hungry Like the Wolf" as they bed down outside a cozy, heated yurt.
It was the vision of husband-and-wife team Peter McClelland and Chris Hegenbarth to create such experiences for beginning and advanced sledders of all ages. They founded White Wilderness Sled Dog Adventures to share their love of outdoor activities in general—including camping and fishing—and of sled dogs in particular. As a seasoned guide and cofounder of the Ely Area Mushing Association, McClelland is dedicated to the welfare of sled dogs everywhere. Hegenbarth handles the details, including the baking of the cookies that accompany each sled driver on his or her journey. In the National Geographic book The 100 Best Vacations to Enrich Your Life, author Pam Grout says McClelland and Hegenbarth "don't just sell you a dogsled trip—they adopt you for a few days," making sure guests are warm and well fed.
The couple has gathered together some of the most experienced dog drivers in the north woods, including licensed EMT Erik Danielson and nine-year dogsledding veteran Theo Theobald, who prides herself on seeing more moose than traffic lights in any given month. The company is one of the few sled-dog trip providers that trains its dogs year-round; staffers spend off-season months teaching the dogs to run through an obstacle course and playing hours of Twister to improve their agility.