Bear Head Lake State Park – Part 2

Now afternoon here in The Netherlands and it seems like it might finally clear off today.  My hope is to finish this and get out and hike this afternoon without getting wet.  Fingers crossed!

This is part two in my Bear Head Lake State Park, Ely, Minnesota series.  You can visit part one here.

This trip was with my husband as we prepared for and then stopped at the end of our BWCAW trip in September 2017.  Different from my solo trip as we now owned a Tiger Moth camper trailer and I had my new Wilderness Pungo kayak. So no more sleeping on the ground!  I purchased a Napier SUV tent to expand our living space and to contain all the gear we had hauled for this trip.

Our set up at Bear Head Lake

Our set up at Bear Head State Park site 71E

I wanted our tent and gear up so that I could go play on the lake with the kayak. I had taken this gear out several times this past Spring on my own but I soon realized that being part of a team has it’s advantages and disadvantages when it comes to set up.  My ideas don’t always work…duh!  The tent was not easy to configure with this new campsite being a bit unleveled.  We had heard that there was rain moving in and so we wanted to make sure that our gear and ourselves would stay dry during our three day stay. My husband did a wonderful job getting the tent to work with the trailer in order to keep us dry during our stay.  I would not have put as much effort into making it work opting for more time on the water, thus I would have had wet gear at the end of our stay.

Finally, with everything up and secured we put my kayak in the water and I went for a relaxing paddle before the rainy weather set in.

Bear Head Lake State Park

After getting to the other side of the windy lake I took a few moments to reflect on the journey of planning that got me back to this wonderful place of solitude.  This time I was able to share this wonderful part of Minnesota with with my husband, these times are precious and few, and I treasure each of them dearly.


The entire night and all the next day it rained.  Even being in  a trailer on these kinds of days is not fun.  But, we found that the this State Park has a wonderful indoor Trail Center that is open and heated with tables.  A perfect place to take our gear and repack for preparation for our BWCA trip.  The trail center had a few other campers coming and going to dry out from the wet weather.  The large space has a large wood stove and beautiful floor to ceiling windows that make you feel warm and cozy yet you can still enjoy the scenic woods that surrounds the center from the sitting inside.  I was happy to see that Minnesota tax money was well spent on this beautiful gathering spot.


After getting our gear together we drove the 10 miles into Ely, MN.  The town always is full with cars and trucks this time of the year. Each loaded with every sort of human powered craft.  It is great even on rainy days to walk down the street and “window shop” for our next “new” purchase.

Our main street tour concluded,  we headed for the International Wolf Center just east of town.  This was our first visit to the center and without much research into our visit we were a bit shocked at the entrance price of $14.00/person.  But, then I reminded myself that it was for a good cause. The center was founded for educating the public about wolves in Northern Minnesota.  The center contains wonderful historical displays about wolves and facts about how they live and migrate in Minnesota. Very educational and we both learned some interesting wolf facts from the visit.  There is also a large enclosed area that can be seen from inside the center that contains the captive wolves.  We happened to visit at the wrong time of the day and did not see any wolves.  I guess wolves don’t really like wet and rainy weather either.

The next day wasn’t much better as far as the rain.  We decided to do the Dutch thing, that is, when it is rainy you do what you had planned anyway! We had planned to fish. So we gathered the gear and went fishing anyway!


First we tried fishing from the shore at Bear Head Lake.  Husband lost lures to the lake.  I lost an entire line!  This was a first in my fishing years that I had lost an entire line!  We are still unsure what happened.  We returned to the park headquarters and exchanged the rod we had checked out for another.  We decided to try our luck at Norberg Lake just a short hike from the park headquarters.

It was suppose to be a short hike…  less than a mile, but a missed trail turn and a mile and half later soaked to the bones, plus maybe a few frustrated words spoken between the two of us, we made it to Norberg Lake by the long way. This other hiking trail we had travelled, runs next to Bear Head Lake shoreline and also links into Norberg Lake.  Fishing can have it’s challenges and on this day it was not only the hike into the location but we had zero luck with getting anything interested in what we had on our lines.  Again, I donated several lures to the depths of a lake.  Honestly, I think you can follow all my trips across Minnesota by the lures I have lost.  We finally gave up on fishing and made our way back to the campsite.  This time we followed the right trail and saw where we had made our initial mistake.  Noted verbally and mentally for the next time!!

We ended our stay and our wet days at Bear Head Lake State Park by enjoying a dinner with one of our Ely friends overlooking Lake Shagawa.  Good food always helps a bruised ego after a hard day in bad weather fishing.  The walleye still tasted great even though I didn’t catch it.

We did visit Bear Head Lake State Park for one more night, on our way out of the BWCAW and on our way back south to our storage unit location.  We camped at site 30e.

deer at Bear Head Lake

Deer at the park headquarters

This last stop on our fall visit was not as wet as the first visit. We decided not to haul out the tent for just one night.  We experienced one last campfire and outdoor dinner for the year.  We had seen some great places on this trip and experienced some wonderful adventures.  The memories will hold us through the long dark rainy winter in The Netherlands where we will plan our next adventure in Northern Minnesota.

Places we liked this trip:

Front Porch Coffee House:  Again, best apple pie and coffee in Ely!! The free WIFI keeps us coming back.

Ely Public Library: We ended up here a couple of times during our trip for the free WIFI and to read when the weather was rainy.  Wonderful spot to relax.

Britton’s Café, Ely:  This restaurant is a real hometown restaurant for breakfast and lunch only.  Great food and service!

Minnesota DNR–  where we research all of our lake access and fishing information.  A great place to find activities at all the Minnesota State Parks, many of them for free!