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June is the month when you can go on dozens of imaginary adventures just by watching the traffic on Highway 61. There go three trucks with Wisconsin plates hauling fishing boats. They are probably destined for a walleye lake somewhere in northwestern Ontario. The SUV with two canoes on top may be headed for the Boundary Waters or Quetico. The guy with the big backpack walking along the highway shoulder just came off the Superior Hiking Trail. The compact car with bikes on a rack is here to compete in a weekend trail race. The van hauling sea kayaks is off for a multi-day paddle among the islands on Superior’s Canadian shore. So many people going so many places; the imagination runs wild.
What is truly extraordinary about the Northern Wilds is the endless amount of places we have to enjoy outdoor activities. Add to this stunning scenery, pristine environments, the greatest lake and thousands more, and abundant flora and fauna, as well as national, state and provincial parks and wilderness areas and you have what is arguably North America’s top destination for outdoor adventures. We are blessed with more lakes than any angler can fish in a lifetime, more portages than any paddler may traverse, more miles of trail than anyone can hike and more…well you get the picture. Get away from the busy Highway 61 corridor and you’ll discover that you can enjoy outdoor fun with plenty of elbow room or even complete solitude.
If you enjoy company, or even crowds, you can find that, too. Special events held in our communities throughout the summer attract participants from near and far. The same is true for our museums, folk schools and cultural centers. Of course, there are restaurants; some so busy you frequently must wait to get a table. Anyone who has visited Grand Marais on a rainy afternoon knows the stores and shops get lots of traffic, too.
Some folks complain about the crowds; about so many people having fun. The rest of us pay them no mind. First, we are proud to welcome visitors to our communities. We sincerely want them to enjoy their time in the Northern Wilds. Second, we understand this is a special place, one that pulls on adventurous people like a strong magnet. Some of us can’t escape the pull. That’s why we choose to live here. If you are a local, you know what we mean. If you are a visitor, welcome to our world. The Northern Wilds has something to offer for just about everyone. Get out there and have some fun!—Shawn Perich and Amber Pratt