our community

Our Community

We are Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness


in the arrowhead region of Minnesota


that rely on a healthy wilderness

200K +

in our worldwide community


Protecting the community we work and live in

Our home of Ely, Minnesota, is routinely named the best small town in America, and we agree. We live on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and take full advantage of the 1.1 million acres of Wilderness. As many of you know, the region is known for the boreal forest and varied ecosystems, home to a diverse array of animals. But did you know that Northern Minnesota is the last stronghold of the Gray Wolf in the lower 48 states? Lynx, bobcats, pine martens, and beavers are other mammals found throughout the woods. Black bears roam the forest and graze on blueberries in July. Hunters pursue whitetail deer and grouse in the autumn, and bird enthusiasts are captivated by the haunting call of a loon streaming across a lake. These experiences are unforgettable. 

northern lights

We're investing in the future of Northeastern Minnesota

While the region is famous for summer activities, the lakes and woods are just as much alive in winter. After it snows, outdoor enthusiasts are actively ice fishing, dog sledding, ice skating, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, and winter camping.

The Boundary Waters is a designated International Dark Sky Sanctuary - one of only 14 in the world. As a result, the stars shimmer brighter, the Milky Way is more vivid, and the chances of seeing the Northern lights are more likely without the negative impacts of light pollution impacting the sky.

As much as we love playing outside, we also enjoy a strong community. There are over 100 clubs and nonprofit organizations in the Ely area, and Ely’s exciting repertoire of festivals and celebrations means an even greater number of opportunities for community engagement. Notably, as quoted in an archived Ely Summer Times, “For a small town, Ely is big on art.” Arts programming not only provides space for meaningful interaction but also cultivates value within individual participants. 


The history of Ely is vibrant

For work, Ely supports a growing mix of creative class workers, outdoor enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, professionals, retirees, trade and service sector workers, and anyone working remotely; almost 15% of residents were new to the area in 2020 alone! A 2014 study of attitudes in the four townships surrounding Ely asked residents what qualities attracted them to the area. The vast majority spoke of the proximity to nature, outdoor recreational opportunities, solitude, and peace and quiet as the primary factors.

The history of Ely is vibrant, well documented, and honorably sustained. A book with many chapters and a remarkable cast of characters, representing a diversity of thought that contradicts commonly adopted notions and rural stereotypes. We’re still writing this story - be a part of it!