Listening Point Foundation FAQ


Ely is a city with a population of about 3500 located in northern St. Louis County in Minnesota. Less than 20 miles to the Canadian border, it was historically an iron ore mining town.

Today, it is known as one of the main entry points into the vast Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, which brings visitors from all over the country and world.

Though Sigurd Olson was born in Chicago and grew up in Wisconsin, once he came to Ely, he knew it was the place to call home. He and his wife Elizabeth eventually settled in the home where the Listening Point Foundation offices are now located today. 

Ely is a great place to visit in all seasons!

With several small businesses, restaurants, outfitting companies, nonprofit organizations, annual festivals, and a thriving arts community, Ely is a destination that regularly welcomes visitors from around the United States and the world. 

One of the biggest draws is outdoor recreation, as the town is surrounded by miles of National Forest and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Studded with countless lakes, waterways, rocky crags, and portage trails, it is a landscape for fulfilling day trips, overnight excursions, or multi-day expeditions. Opportunities for canoeing, hiking, fishing, skiing, snowmobiling, primitive camping, and more are endless.
Ely is also a haven for artists, and the Blueberry Arts Festival in late July brings more than 250 vendors and more than 40,000 visitors over the course of a weekend.  
Click here to learn more about visiting the Ely area!

Established in 1978 under the Boundary Waters Act, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, or BWCAW, is a beautiful, forested wilderness in northeastern Minnesota. Located northwest of Lake Superior, it boasts almost  1.1 million acres of land and over 1,100 lakes. It is a treasured destination for those who canoe, fish, hike, dogsled, and explore, and is the most visited wilderness area in the United States.

Countless footpaths, called portages, connect the vast network of lakes and streams, and non-motorized transport is required for travel through the interior of the wilderness area. 

Sigurd Olson played an instrumental role in the Wilderness Act of 1964 and the Boundary Waters Act in 1978. Learn more about his impact here.

Yes! We encourage everyone to go on one of our free tours of the Olson family home, Sig’s Writing Shack, and nearby Listening Point.
Tours are small and personal, usually less than 10 people. Our volunteer guides each have a unique perspective and connection to Listening Point. They provide thoughtful perspectives, ecological information, and interesting stories that connect the past to the present.
It helps if we know you are coming ahead of time, so see our Schedule Tour page for more information on setting up a visit!

Note: We also enjoy welcoming larger groups, such as students, campers, service project groups, or other event groups. Please contact us to arrange scheduling! 

Directions are sent to individuals and groups after they contact the Listening Point Foundation to set up a visit. Find out more here!
If you have have visited before, please come see us again! We do, however, appreciate you getting in touch with us ahead of your anticipated visit. Letting us know your travel plans helps us coordinate accordingly! Please give us a call or contact us here