Boating on Lake Superior & Inland Lakes

Boating on Lake Superior & Inland Lakes

In Minnesota, outdoor recreation is a way of life, and in the land of 10,000 lakes, life on the water is what we do! It’s no surprise that Minnesota and Michigan lead the nation in boat registrations. Boating on Lake Superior and inland lakes offers world-class fishing, excellent sightseeing and incredible adventures. Whether canoeing, waterskiing, sailing, or enjoying the taste of the fresh fish you just caught yourself, time spent on the water is time well spent!

Inland Boating:

Here in Cook County, public water access is closer than you think! You can fish with your reliable outboard motor and boat, gently paddle your canoe on a quiet lake, or even guide your kayak through a torrent river.  Launch your watercraft, and create fond memories to last a lifetime.

With the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) as our backyard, silent watercraft and solitude are a paddle stroke away.  The BWCAW contains over a thousand lakes, and 2,200 campsites. Permits are required, and any of our US Forest Service offices can assist you in obtaining yours, or, utilize one of our helpful area outfitters. As many waterways are connected by portages, you have the ability to travel unlimited routes of various lengths and difficulties.

Want to use a motor? No problem! There are hundreds of inland lakes with public access ramps. The DNR maintains a comprehensive list at: From vintage Alumacrafts with an Evinrude motor to the high-speed tow boat used for waterskiing and tubing the public access areas are well marked, and launching your craft in one of lakes is easily accessible.

Lake Superior Boating:

A wonderful day on the breathtaking beauty of Lake Superior is a bucket list item for casual boaters and visitors alike. For good reason, Lake Superior offers some of the best fishing around – not to mention the most spectacular views of the ancient Sawtooth Mountain range. A day on Lake Superior can wipe away all cares, however, because of it’s “greatness” is due to its inland sea qualities. Never underestimate the power of Lake Superior, seasoned mariners say Lake Superior can turn dangerous very quickly, so here are a few tips to make sure your day on the lake is “smooth sailing” or should we say, boating.

Here are a few tips to ensure you have a great day on the Big Lake:

  1. Research wind and weather conditions.  Even if you never power too far ahoy, and want to putter close to the shoreline, check the forecast to be prepared for whatever the weather may bring.
  2. Pack and always bring along adequate provisions, clothing and basic weather gear. A fog bank on Lake Superior quickly drops temperatures into the 40’s, and experienced navigators always have a down jacket on board. Yes, even in July and August, it is always much cooler on Lake Superior than you think.
  3. Again, a Personal Flotation Device is the law for all children under 10, and you should wear one at all times too.
  4. One of the assets Lake Superior offers is that is usually is an uncrowded lake. If you are just starting to master the big lake basics remember that you can practice in a protected bay or harbor, where you’ll have the ideal conditions of light winds and low traffic.
  5. Always, always, always, and no matter what your level of expertise, tell someone before you go out on the water, bring more than adequate floatation devices (and wear them at all times), and know in advance how to swim.
  6. Two items to have on board:  A VHF-FM two way marine radio, and a compass. The radio keeps you informed and in touch with the land, and should you hit hard rain or fog, the compass will keep your direction true. A cell phone can help in a pinch, but cellular reception is spotty or non-existent along portion of the North Shore.
  7. Operation Drywater. Again, don’t drink and boat. After numerous senseless accidents and drowning, both state and federal (the US Coast Guard) are policing and cracking down on BUI’s (Boating Under the Influence).
  8. Lastly, our area charter captains are seasoned Superior mariners, and by hopping on a half day or full day charter, you can safely enjoy a beautiful day on the water.

Remember, safety is always first!

First thing to do is to learn our state’s rules which will pay off in personal safety. Boater education prevents accidents and saves lives. Whether or not the state requires it, all boaters have a responsibility to learn about boat operation, communications, navigation, and life-saving techniques before taking to the water. Statistics bear out what logic suggests—those without boater education put themselves and others at risk. Licenses and registrations are also necessary.

It’s the law. A Personal Floatation Device (PFD) for children is now mandatory, and THE rule.   And wearing a PFD for you should be the rule as well, as you need to have one on the boat for each passenger.  It’s a sad fact that 90% of drowning victims were not wearing a lifejacket, and drowning is rare when one is snapped on.  And another great rule to follow:  Alcohol and boating do not mix, and legal enforcements for impaired boating (BWI) are just as stringent on the water as they are on the roads.
Lastly, we are working hard to keep invasive species out of our area.  We treasure our crystal clear waters, and work to keep them that way. Make sure to check your boat before you launch and after your time on the water.