ELY, Minn. (WCCO) — For twelve weeks this summer, leading up to the start of the Minnesota State Fair in August, WCCO-TV and WCCO Radio are highlighting communities in Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

This week, Amelia Santaniello and Angela Davis loaded up their luggage into the Mobile Weather Watcher and took off Wednesday, heading almost four hours north to the gateway of the Boundary Waters.

Gallery: Goin’ To The Lake In Ely

Ely and the Boundary Waters are just beautiful this time of year, and the ladies have had unbelievable weather so far at Shagawa Lake.

This is the kind of beauty you find everywhere around here, and it gets even better when you get into the Boundary Waters.

The BWCA is a million acres of pristine wilderness, and Ely is one of the most popular places to enter the area.

Almost the entire BWCA is only accessible by canoe. That’s what makes it so quiet and peaceful when you’re out fishing or enjoying the evening at your campsite. It’s really a great way to get away and unplug.

Ely has really taken advantage of its proximity to the Boundary Waters. It started as an iron mining town in the late 1800s. About 3,500 people live here now.

Many of them work in the businesses that help visitors have better trips. Ely is filled with outfitters. They’ll get you everything you need to have a fun, safe trip into the Boundary Waters.

There’s also plenty to find when you return from your trip: Great shops, fun restaurants and places to find a nice cold beer after a long portage.

Amelia, Angela Arrive in Ely

Everyone at WCCO seemed to think it would be a lot of fun to have Amelia and Angela go camping in the Boundary Waters for Goin’ to the Lake. But the ladies were up for the challenge, even if they didn’t know exactly what they were in for.

Angela’s only camped in state parks where the car is close by, and Amelia has never slept in a tent.

So Bill Forsberg at Boundary Waters Outfitters showed them what they needed before heading into the BWCA.

Amelia, Angela Prep For Camping In Ely

This is the time of year Ely really comes alive, especially this weekend. That’s because it’s the Blueberry Arts Festival.

Vendors are busy setting everything up Thursday, and the town is filling up. This weekend, 40,000 people will visit.

They’ll enjoy 260 artists and crafters, 30 food vendors and local musicians.

Ely Preps For Blueberry Arts Fest

Northeastern Minnesota is home to more than one-million acres of wilderness that National Geographic once included in a list of must-visit destinations.

Beyond its forests, the Boundary Waters has more than 1,500 miles of canoe routes starting near Ely.

This trip was filled with a lot of firsts for Amelia and Angela. The camping would have been enough to try for the first time, but they had to paddle a canoe to get there.

They got a few pointers from the guys at Boundary Waters Outfitters before setting off to their campsite in the BWCA.

Let’s just say it took a lot longer than they’d planned.

Amelia, Angela Canoe In BWCA

Amelia and Angela say they see why the Boundary Waters are such a draw for people from around the state and country.

With some gear from Boundary Waters Outfitters, they gave it their best shot Wednesday night and set up camp.

Amelia & Angela Camp In The BWCA

Going To The Lake: Ely Links

Boundary Waters Oufitters
City of Ely
Boundary Waters Canoe Area
Blueberry Arts Festival

For the full schedule for Goin’ To The Lake: All Summer Long, click here. You can suggest places for us to visit here.

Watch the past “Goin’ To The Lake” segments.
Watch the past “Goin’ To The (Frozen) Lake” segments.