Travel Directions to North Country
For parties spending the night with us prior to starting on your canoe trip, try to plan your arrival for between 10 AM and 4 PM, if at all possible. This will assure you that we will have sufficient staff time to review the equipment and/or food that we are supplying to your party and to properly plan and map your route with you. (You can always return back into Ely for any shopping or meals ... it's just 6 miles from the base.) If you cannot arrive between these hours, be sure to let us know your plans, and we will try to make the best arrangements possible for staff time. This may mean, for evening arrivals, that we will need to work with you the following morning. A note will be left on our office door (first building on your left prior to going up into our parking lot) as to where your room is for your overnight stay.
For parties not spending the night prior to your trip embarkation, plan to arrive as early as possible after 8 AM. It is our practice to launch the previous day's arrivals first each morning. Then we try to have all "arrive-and-out" parties on the water by noon. Briefings last about 2 hours, personal item packing time adds another one-half to one hour. Finally, if we are driving to a remote landing, we need to add an additional half hour to an hour and a half. Paddle time to your first camp site can range from 15 minutes to an hour and a half.
To get to Ely via Superior, Wisconsin / Duluth, Minnesota:
Give us a phone call at 800-552-5581 to let us know you are in the Duluth area. As you cross the big harbor bridge, look for the ocean freighters loading with wheat, iron ore, paper, and lumber. Take US Highway 53 north to the city of Virginia, Minnesota.To get to Ely via Minneapolis, Minnesota:
Take Interstate 35 north to the exit for Cloquet, Minnesota (about 15 miles short of Duluth). This will be Highway 33. Give us a phone call at 800-552-5581 to let us know you are in the Cloquet area. Once on 33, continue to the end of this highway which is the ramp entrance onto Highway 53 North. Take US Highway 53 north to the city of Virginia, Minnesota.
To get to Ely from Virginia, Minnesota:
A few miles north of Virginia will be the turn off (right) for Highway 169 North; "Ely" is noted on the highway sign. You are now 49 miles from Ely ... one hour from North Country. The little town of "Tower" is about the half way point. Just prior to reaching Tower you will pass several miles of scrub brush and dead trees. This is the result of a forest fire in May of 1993. Just past Tower you will skirt the village of "Soudan". Looking to the left, you can see the headframe and facility buildings of the Tower-Soudan Iron Mine. Production stopped in the 60's, and the property is now a State Park. A tour of the mine takes you down 2,500 feet to the last working level. For parties ending their canoe trip around noon of the last day, this is a great place to spend several hours.
About 20 miles further on 169, you will be entering Ely on the west side. Highway 169 is called Sheridan Street in Ely. Continue heading east on 169/Sheridan through Ely and out the east side.
To get to North Country Canoe Outfitters from Ely:
Take Sheridan Street (169) all the way through town. If you stop to ask directions, be sure to specify North Country Canoe Outfitters on White Iron Lake. There is a resort called North Country Lodge way out on Moose Lake which also rents canoes (20 miles past where you really want to go!).
Three miles east of Ely, you will see signs for the Kawishiwi Trail, Co Hwy 58, and Co Hwy 16. All three names refer to the same road. You will need to turn right (only way possible) on to this road. Travel 2.9 miles to the Silver Rapids Bridge (anyone in Ely can tell you how to get to the Silver Rapids Bridge if you get turned around). Cross the bridge and turn right into our driveway; we adjoin the bridge ... just follow the guard rail. The office is in the first building on your left, it is on the driveway level. Pulling up into our parking lot, a staff member should be available to greet your arrival. Keep an eye out for "Guinness", our very friendly Golden Retriever.