Our community is growing.

And you can be a part of it!

Founded in 1998, Listening Point Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving Listening Point and advancing Sigurd Olson’s wilderness philosophy.
Listening Point was a place of connection for Sig, continually renewing his sense of wonder and gratitude for the natural world. Honoring that legacy, our vision is to foster people’s connection to wild places by inspiring them to find their own listening point.
We at the Listening Point Foundation are excited and ready to step into the future with fresh ideas and new energy. Explore this page to find out what is happening in our community and how you can be a part of the action!

Learn more about Sigurd Olson, Listening Point, and the Listening Point Foundation below. 


To keep you connected throughout the year!


Our free, twice-yearly newsletter reaches thousands of people every year, recording the history and activities of the Foundation in print and digital form. Many exciting things are happening here at the Listening Point Foundation, so…

Sign up for your free newsletter here!

And browse our previous issues and read the most current one online!

Interested in Volunteering?

Join us!


Do you live in Ely, or live here seasonally? Do you come to visit every year? 

Whether once a year or on a regular basis, we always appreciate an extra pair of hands! We have a strong group of volunteers and could not do our important work without them. 

We also have seasonal and yearly opportunities for larger group service projects. 

Learn more about our numerous volunteer opportunities here

What's New

Stay informed!


  • Virtual Book Release Event – June 1. We are celebrating the release of A Private Wilderness: The Journals of Sigurd F. Olson edited by David Backes on June 1st. Join the Listening Point Foundation and Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute as we have an in-depth conversation with David about the history and inspiration for the book from inception to publication. Learn more and register for free here!
  • Guided tours of Listening Point are resuming on May 29, 2021. We are happy to announce that we are reopening for guided, outdoor tours starting the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend. Schedule a tour here.
  • Artist in Residence Program — More details and guidelines will soon be released about our Artist in Residence Program. For now, contact us if you are interested!

Follow Us!

As we continue connecting people to the value of wild places through Sig's legacy.

Historical photographs, thoughtful quotes, upcoming events, interesting articles, and all sorts of updates…
Keep track of what’s going on at the Listening Point Foundation by following us on Facebook and Instagram! 
Note: We enjoy featuring photos of our world up here in Ely, MN, but we respect the privacy of our guests and visitors. We will only publish photos of people with their express permission and will do our best to properly credit photographers and our sources.

Listening Point Foundation, Inc.

Dedicated to preserving Listening Point and advancing Sigurd Olson's legacy of wilderness education
Listening Point Foundation, Inc.
Listening Point Foundation, Inc.
Sixty-five years ago today, Alfred Knopf published Sigurd Olson's first book, "The Singing Wilderness." Knopf was taking a chance, and it quickly paid off as the book made the New York Times bestseller list. For Sigurd--and for so many of us whose lives have been touched by him--it was a tremendous blessing. Here's what I concluded in my biography of him:

"On a personal level, the publication and success of 'The Singing Wilderness' was an immensely satisfying culmination of a long and hard-fought dream. For thirty years Sigurd Olson had been obsessed with writing, had felt it was his ordained mission in life, that success was his destiny. The odds often had seemed insurmountable: the kind of writing he was best at and loved most editors said had no market, and the kind that editors said was marketable yielded scathing rejection letters when Sigurd attempted it. He had felt trapped in an unfulfilling career, stuck in a community full of people who could not relate to him intellectually, and had sealed off his deepest beliefs, thoughts, and fears from his own family. Succumbing to periods of despair, he had bewildered his wife and damaged his health. He could not explain these things. He had not wanted to make life hard for Elizabeth or for their children or for himself. His dream went beyond want; it was a fire burning within him, a consuming flame that had the potential to fulfill or destroy him. Somehow, despite the many rejections, despite the self-torture--despite the genuinely long odds of succeeding as a writer of essays--he had held fast to his dream, and had triumphed."
Listening Point Foundation, Inc.
Listening Point Foundation, Inc.
An annual birthday gift for Sig (April 4th). A great way to celebrate!
Listening Point Foundation, Inc.
Listening Point Foundation, Inc.
Monday was the 60th Anniversary of the publishing of Sig's third book, "The Lonely Land." Nothing like a 500 mile canoe trip through the vast Canadian wilderness!
Sigurd Olson (1899-1982) was a well-known environmentalist, award-winning conservation activist, and best-selling author. Though he lived in Ely, Minnesota and took numerous trips within the Quetico-Superior wilderness, he traveled widely and influenced the creation and preservation of natural areas across the country. Learn more about Sigurd Olson here.
Sigurd Olson created Listening Point in 1956 as a private retreat on the shores of Burntside Lake. It became widely known and celebrated after Alfred Knopf published Olson’s book, “Listening Point” in 1958. Learn more about Listening Point and how to visit here.
Founded in 1998 by Sig’s younger son, Robert K. Olson, the Listening Point Foundation continues to promote Sigurd F. Olson’s legacy. Located in Ely, MN, the Foundation headquarters in the Olson family homestead, and continues to preserve Sig’s Writing Shack and the Listening Point property, along with providing educational tours and opportunities to the community. Learn more about the Listening Point Foundation here.

Keep the legacy alive by donating

We are working hard to create a sustainable financial future for the Listening Point Foundation.

 Your donation helps us keep the mission alive and the Foundation moving forward. You can also make a lasting impression by donating a brick to our patio engraved with a message of your choice. Learn more by clicking below!


Start on: 7:00 PM

A Private Wilderness: The Journals of Sigurd F. Olson Edited by David Backes Release date: June 1st Listening Point Foundation and the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute are celebrating the release of David Backes’ new book! Join us for a virtual, in-depth presentation and moderated conversation with David about the history of the book from inception […]