Fall Lake Campground is located on the shores of Fall Lake and provides direct access into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). The campground opens in early May in time for walleye fishing season, making it a popular place for anglers. Others are drawn to Fall Lake for its birding, swimming, hiking and boating opportunities.
Superior National Forest, located in northeastern Minnesota's arrowhead region, is comprised of 3 million acres. The forest spans 150 miles along the United States-Canada border.
Part of Fall Lake lies within the BWCAW, while the rest of the lake is open to unrestricted boating, permits are required to enter the BWCAW. View recreation guides and maps of hiking trails and canoe routes in the national forest.
Kids love the campground's swimming beach, playground and picnic area. A 1.5 mile hiking trail is also a favorite pastime for families. Anglers can try their luck for smallmouth bass, walleye, northern pike, crappie, perch and bluegill.
Some campers might be interested in the unique opportunity to view the visitor center's display of replica artifacts found during archaeological digs within the campground and surrounding areas.
There's no shortage of popular local events to attend, including the City of Ely's July 4th fireworks, the Blueberry Festival (the last full weekend in July) and the Harvest Moon Festival-mid September.
This lake has some sites that can be reserved and some that are first-come, first-served. Many sites at Fall Lake are made to accommodate RVs including pull-through sites. Trees provide privacy between most campsites. The facility is very accessible.
A store, canoe rentals, firewood and ice are available at the facility, and a campground host is on-site during the season.
The campground is nestled among majestic pine and abundant aspen and fir trees, providing the ultimate northwoods setting. Average summer temperatures are a pleasant 60-75 degrees. Birds and wildlife are abundant.
Guests may want to take a day trip to the Dorothy Molter Museum, International Wolf Center, North American Bear Center, Ely-Winton History Museum or Soudan Mine.
By far the most popular nearby attraction is the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Over one million acres in size, the Boundary Waters contain over 1,200 miles of canoe routes, 12 hiking trails and over 2,000 designated campsites.
ADA Access: N
We always look for rec.gov sites with the national Park Pass for seniors it's inexpensive & usually they are nice. We stayed in Site #63 with electric hook up. When you enter the park where the office/small store is that's where you fill with water. Our site was big with a picnic table, fire pit & a path to the lake. Our friends camped in site # 62 it was big yet had a weird tree stump in a bad place. They marked it with a night light and a flag.
The boat ramp was near the loop we were in so very easy access to the water. You can keep you boat or kayak next to the boat ramp. We kayaked out to the Boundry Waters Canoe Area and fished. We stopped & looked at several boat in campsites that are booked through Fall lake CG they are really nice and private. There are lots of lakes to pick & choose from for kayaking and boating. Clean restrooms, nice hot showers. The sites are cleaned and raked the campground is well maintained. They sell Ice & wood and a few small items in the store/office.
The best sites are #63, 62, (10 is a pull through) for Campers or tents and nice walk in sites #26 has a private beach, 59, 6029,35 are waterfront walk in sites.
There is no dump station you drive into Ely it's at the Ely Chamber of Commerce (6 miles away) for a donation. There are free brochures here too and coupon books. Only other downfall was the camphost is across from site 63 and they start early. It's quiet till they come back about 7:30 am (were still sleeping) & back in their golf cart. Beep, Beep you know what I mean. I wanted to say something but they left for a week so it was quiet early mornings. They should make them a little pull through path for the cart.
This campground was so quiet, great sites, most have a path to the lake and they have great hike in sites too. There's lots of parking at the parking lot for boaters & hikers. The swim beach is at the end of the park and it has a playground in front of it.
It was so interesting to watch boats portage going from one lake to another. People canoe & boat to the Canadian border from there. We didn't catch many fish it was warmer than normal the bite was off. Got a few small Northern Pikes and a small bass. We did see a big Eagles nest with several Eagles, saw loons, deer and other birds.
We walked the path behind our site to the water & would swim & float on floats in the lake. Great way to relax & cool off. We took cocktails & just floated & enjoyed.
The town of Ely is about 6 miles away it's a small town with a lot of canoe outfitters, fishing shops, liquor stores, some eats & by far the best Ice cream I ever had from Northern Expressions. The line can be out the door & down the street it's that good. There was a few places to eat we didn't like the Chinese place at all Oriental Orchid it was the worst we ever had. It took a 1/2 hour to get our food we called it in got there in 30 min. and it was at least 30 more once we arrived. We went to the International Wolf center spent a few hours there it was just ok. We did see a few wolves and learned a little.
The Northern Market makes their own sausage it's good we stocked up on different ones. Nice little grocery store there is a Zups grocery store too.
We did eat at the Grand Lodge it was good. It's probably 8 miles from the campground.
Like most campgrounds some sights are better then other but we scored a good one this time! The cement fire pit ring up on top with a picnic table and room for chairs the tent pad is a hard pack of sand and pebbles so better then the usually gravel site. The mixture of trees surrounding are beautiful. Great vibes at this campground. Nice new bathroom facilities you do need a code to open the door so make sure you grab that! Definitely worth the stay if your visiting up this way. Plus the proximity to Fall Lake is outstanding. Beautiful campground 10/10 recommend
The campground is ideal…has plenty of sites to choose from. Some are reservable and others are not, and yes there will be a line at the office in the morning. The ideal sites are the waterfront sites as you don't have to rack your boat every day. You can leave your boat down by the rocks and walk up the stairs to your site. I stayed in site 23…it was right on the corner before the beach parking lot. The parking are was below the tent pad and fire ring. This was the case in many sites. The camper sits below the fire ring and any extra tents you might need. Talked to many people here who stay for a week but actually only use it as a base camp while they are out in the boundary waters. One couple I met said they stay for 2 weeks (the max) and canoe for a couple days then come back for a shower and resupply then go out again. The campground is super clean….and the hosts (which are numerous) are very good at what they do. This might be the most welcoming campground in the United States.
It is nicely located near ely so if you need something you get can get back into town pretty easily…or if you just want Custard…I'd recommend. The town certainly goes dormant in the winter months, but in the summer months it is full of people.
The fishing, boating, and paddling here give you plenty of options. It is right on the border of the boundary waters so you will need to get a permit. Day permits for non motorized are free and can be done at the camp check in or via paper at the boat landing area. The camp store is only open certain hours so if they are closed just go to the boat landing to get the permit filled out.
This campground is a family favorite! It's about a 5 hour drive from the cities, but worth it! One perk about Fall Lake is an entrance point into the boundary waters. You can rent a canoe at the office which also includes the permit you need to go into the boundary waters. Lake has great fishing! Beautiful scenery all year round, but we enjoy the summer/fall months most. It's best to make a reservation especially if you want to try to get a lakeside site, but there are a few first come first serve sites available, which usually are easier to get during the week, they fill up by Friday. Close to downtown Ely (but the town turns into a ghost town during off season, a lot of businesses and restaurants will close), international bear center, international wolf center, dorothy molter museum.
We have been rained on and snowed on but there are no bugs! Camping in October in Northern Minnesota is a great time of year and the fall colors are out of this world! Fall Lake is on the edge of the Boundary Waters and has easy access to it.
Large sites, secluded, and right on the Boundary waters!
The lake is entry point #24 for the BWCAW.
Bathrooms are clean and there is no dump station.
This campground has well spaced, well foliaged camping spaces. Great for both tent and RV Camping. The bathrooms are immaculately clean as well. Plenty of options for hiking or getting on the lake and it is close to more attractions in Ely!
Ranger Review: Brunton Outdoor products at Fall Lake USFS campground in the Superior National Forest, Minnesota
Just got back from over a week in the Superior National Forest, and have reviews of both the USFS campground at Fall Lake, and also a Product Review of some gear used for nature study and navigation during the week!
The Fall Lake campground is one of the largest and nicest run by the US Forest Service in the Ely area. It is right at the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) wilderness, as Fall Lake is actually an entry point to the roadless motor-less BWCA. A stay at Fall lake is a great stop for a night just before launching your canoe onto a BWCA wilderness adventure, or a great destination camping spot in and of itself if you want a less rustic or remote National Forest camping experience with day trips into the wilderness and surrounding area.
The campground has large woodsy campsites that are secluded and well maintained, many set away from the lake but some right on the lake featuring their own individual canoe landings and swimming spots. Picnic tables, fire grates and tent pads are located at each site, and some have electric hookups and room for trailers. The lake is large and good for angling, boating or paddle sports, but there are also bike trails and hiking trails in the area. There is also a day-use area on a side bay, with beach and playground in the picnic area. Unlike many smaller Forest Service campgrounds in the Superior NF, this one has a small visitors center with a little store. It is also an easy run to Ely for supplies or a variety of village or outdoor activities. This would be a really ideal camping spot for a family, and also for a solo camper who wants a nice private "edge of the wilderness" retreat without being completely alone in the wilderness. Highly recommended!
While at Fall Lake, I had a chance to do a Ranger review of a number of items from Brunton Outdoors https://www.brunton.com/ that are good for navigation and/or nature study. First, I tried out two different hand held monocular pocket spotting scopes. One, the Brunton Echo 10-30 x 21 Monocular Scope, is great for long distance bird watching or nature observation, with a magnification of 21 and zoom of 10-30 . Having occasionally had opportunity in the past to use use a colleague’s very expensive high tech professional spotting scope , I would have to say that I was extremely impressed by the quality of this scope which has high quality visuals for a naturalist, while being a fraction of the cost and much more portable. It comes with a case, lenscap, and attachment for a tripod. You really do best to use a tripod with it to steady the image if zooming in to the fullest. I was able to zoom right in to view an eagle on its nest in a tree several hundred feet away. as well as a loon on its nest on an island about 1/4 mile away. I think this scope is a great tool for the outdoor naturalist to get a close up look at bird and animal species for the purpose of ID at a distance. While I was using the scope for nature study, you could also use it for canoe trekking and trying to find the location of a distant portage up ahead along the shore. The only slight drawback is that the lens cap and tripod screw both could be easily lost; they are small and could use some kind of tether to the scope.
By comparison, I also tried out the Brunton Echo Pocket Scope, a slightly smaller water resistant scope that features a 7 x magnification and a zoom of 18. While not as powerful a scope as the one above, it is still great at zooming in fairly well on critters or portages at a distance. A distinct advantage is that it has crisp close-up focus at one foot distance, thus being able to serve as a macro lens or almost like a dissecting scope for close-up examination of grains on rocks, veins on leaves, anatomy of insects, etc. It also has a handy wrist carrier, and has a brightly colored water resistant rubber coating that is great for use on the water.
Personally, as an outdoor naturalist, I would purchase both, for their unique special attributes. If you are only casually interested in nature study, and want to use something like this more for navigation while boating or canoeing, you might want to start with the less expensive Pocket Scope, and maybe work your way up later if you want something more powerful.
I also reviewed the Brunton Locker Compass, a trekkers pocket compass that also includes a hidden compartment designed to hold a few things like keys, spare matches, and some bandaids. Very handy indeed! I compared the compass to another orienteering compass I already had, this was easy to use and the results were accurate and true. The hidden compartment is small and sensible and a really nice added feature! If you dont already have a general outdoor compass for hikes and canoe trips, I would recommend this one because of its dual purpose.
Last but not least, I tried out Bruntons pocket sized "Lost Hiker" kit that actually fits right into your wallet. It comes in a little pouch the size of a credit card, and includes a card magnifying glass, mirror, survival instructions, and a tiny flat compass. The magnifying glass of course works as a magnifying glass, but more importantly can focus sunlight onto tinder to start a fire. Does it work? I was skeptical--but in seconds it actually started a small fire in my fire grate. I was impressed! Very handy, and very portable! The mirror, obviously, would serve well to flash sunlight at passing search and rescue teams if you needed to signal where you are, and while it is thin and portable, it is also strong and break-resistant. If you get lost in the woods and havent been rescued yet, you can also check it to see how bad you look :) As for the flat mini compass, the instructions said to float it on the surface of water in a cup, or in your cupped hands; it is a bit tricky at first to place it right on the surface without breaking the water's surface tension, which you need for the compass to read properly. A few tries got it to work, however, and amazingly this tiny little compass got a pretty accurate reading and would indeed help you strike off in the right direction is you didnt have an orienteering compass . Given that this little kit is so small and so handy and so darn helpful, there is no reason not to get one, and every reason to have one with you on any outdoor trip. A few bucks well spent if you ever get lost!
Overall, Brunton has quality products for both the casual or serious outdoor trekker or scientist. Highly recommended! https://www.brunton.com/
We pulled into this campground after a long drive in the dark. They allow you to arrive late (no check-in time) and we enjoyed a quick night on our way to the BWCA. The campground was beautiful to wake up to and the restroom facilities were well-kept.
By far this was our favorite campground of the summer. The campground is fairly small, has plenty of towering trees for shade and privacy, and sits right on Fall Lake. Fall Lake is a popular place for anglers and those looking to adventure into the boundary waters. The park will accommodate anything from tents to large RVs and is well worth a visit in our opinions. In fact, plan on staying the maximum two weeks … pretty sure you will like it as much as we did.
About half of the sites are reservable with the others being walk-ups. We booked three nights because we didn’t want to drive the RV all the way up into the northwoods of Minnesota and not get a campsite. Especially, since we were there in August during the busy summer season. While we liked our first site (which was a pull-thru), it was booked after our stay so we started scouting other sites. Walk-up site #39 caught our eyes and as luck was on our side it was going to be vacant the morning we were due to check out. That morning we headed to the office fifteen minutes before they opened to get in line hoping to book the sites. We scored the site and booked it for the maximum two weeks.
In our opinions, the walk-up sites are the most desirable because they have direct access to the water. Our site had steps that led down to the lake where we kept our kayaks on the bank so we didn’t have to rack them on the car every time we used them. Even if you don’t have one of these sites there are other public pathways leading to the lake for easy access. Our site was pretty close to the boat ramp which is a busy place so it was a big noisy – especially in the early morning hours but we didn’t mind.
The bathrooms and showers (which are free) are some of the cleanest we have found. They were cleaned daily and the camp hosts returned many times during the day to check for cleanliness and make sure they were stocked with paper products. You have to use a keypad to enter the bathroom which ensures only campers are allowed in. Water pressure in the shower was great and the water was hot. There was no dial to adjust how hot you wanted the water and our shower was almost too hot to use but that was better than being cold. There was a potable water spigot outside which made it easy to fill up our water jugs.
The park has two group camp areas that are ideal for multiple campers and are very private. They have their own bathhouse, pavilion, large grassy common area, grills, and water access. We would definitely rent one of these sites if we came back with three or four friends.
One day, I walked the Stub Lake Trail that left from the campground but was really disappointed. It is in an area with lots of blow down so there was not much shade or interesting scenery. More interesting trails are located about 15 minutes away at Bass Lake which are longer and more scenic with water access. We loved the town of Ely especially the Tuesday Farmers Market and the restaurant Insula. If you are interested in renting outdoor gear there are many outfitters in town ready to assist or you can also rent canoes for $20/day at the campground office. Don't miss the International Wolf Center, the North American Bear Center and the Dorthy Molter Museum. All are really interesting and definitely worth the price of admission.
We camped here in an RV and the only thing that could have made our experience better is if there were full hook-ups. But, since the bathrooms were clean we didn't mind. There is a water fill-up station by the camp office and a dump station in town at the Chamber of Commerce.