Track Wildlife in Ely
Minnesota wolves, bears, birds and other wildlife are found at three unique destinations in Ely. The International Wolf Center, North American Bear Center and Bear Head Lake State Park offer encounters with native animals in exhibits and in the wild.
In an area with one of the largest wolf populations in the U.S., the International Wolf Center has four resident wolves: Aidan, Denali, Boltz and Luna. Center visitors can watch them hunting, playing and sleeping, from a large indoor area that looks out onto their wooded habitat.
Programs spotlight wolf feeding and communication, giving visitors a chance to howl with the wolves. The exhibit “Wolves and Humans” shows wolf behavior and lore and threats to the wolf’s survival. A children’s exhibit replicates the den of a pup named Little Wolf and tells the story of his first year of development.
The International Wolf Center is open daily through late October, and Friday-Sunday until mid-May.
The North American Bear Center offers insights into the lives of the black bears that roam Minnesota's northern woods. From the center’s observation windows, visitors can watch three bears that live in a two-acre wooded enclosure. A male, Ted, is the largest black bear in Minnesota, weighing more than 850 pounds. Honey is a brown female bear, and Lucky is a younger male.
In addition to the live bears, the center has more than 30 video monitors showing how bears communicate, care for their cubs and play. Some of the footage shows current research on wild bears near Ely.
One exhibit helps visitors recognize the signs of a bear by identifying tracks, beds, markings and scat. The Cub Room welcomes kids to crawl into a bear den and explore other touch-and-see exhibits and activities. The center also presents several free programs.
The Bear Center is open daily May-late October, and Fridays and Saturdays in February-April. It is closed in December and January.
To see native animals in the wild, visit Bear Head Lake State Park, 15 miles southwest of Ely. Hiking along trails and roads in this forested park, visitors may see white-tailed deer, black bear, moose, wolves and snowshoe hares. The park also features nesting bald eagles, red-breasted nuthatches, pine grosbeaks, red crossbills and chickadees. The park’s several lakes offer canoeists the chance to spot wildlife from the water and fish for trout, walleye, bass or crappies.
Park lodging options include camper cabins, campsites, and a modern, three-bedroom guesthouse located on Bear Head Lake. The Ely area has plentiful accommodations, including lake resorts, lodges, motels and more.