Ely, MN

About Ely

Ely is roughly 112 miles north of Duluth and only fifteen miles as the crow flies from the Canadian border. It is at the northeastern end of the Mesabi Trail and is surrounded by the beautiful Superior National Forest, which contains 2,021 pristine lakes. Within the forest and on three sides of Ely is the magnificent one million acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) which is why Ely is sometimes referred to as “the canoeing capital of the world.” The BWCAW is one of earth’s last great unspoiled frontiers and boasts more than 10 hiking trails, 2,000 designated campsites, and 1,200 miles of canoe routes.

Modern day Ely has a population of approximately 3,500 people and is home to Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital, Ely Memorial High School, Washington Elementary School, Vermilion Community College, Ely’s Historic State Theater, the Ely Public Library, churches of various denominations, and museums. Ely also has a thriving community of artists and crafters.

Internationally renowned National Geographic photographer Jim Brandenburg lives in Ely. Actress Jessica Biel was born in Ely.

Top Attractions:

North American Bear Center, International Wolf Center, Dorothy Molter Root beer Lady Museum, Ely-Winton Historical Society, and Kawishiwi Falls. Outdoor enthusiasts come year-round to enjoy exploring the forest on the many biking, hiking, dogsledding, and ATV/snowmobile trails, and lakes. Boating is allowed on nearby lakes, but the BWCAW is for non-motorized visitors only.

History

Following the final retreat of glaciers from northeastern Minnesota approximately 10,000 years ago, native peoples migrated north and west. The Dakota people historically occupied the area. Lake Superior Chippewa (Ojibwe/Anishinaabe), the most populous tribe in North America, migrated westward and the Dakota moved west of the Mississippi in the seventeenth century. There were periods of peace and conflict between the two tribes, but the stream of European American settlers into their territories resulted in conflict. The U.S. Government ultimately removed both tribes from their native territories and put them on reservations.

Fur trading between native peoples and French explorers flourished from the 1660’s onward. The first major industry was the wholesale logging of the entire northeastern (‘arrowhead’) portion of the state. Mining followed logging.

Discovery of rich ore deposits around 150 years ago on Minnesota’s Mesabi and Vermillion Iron Ranges led many settlers to come to the area for a new life and to make their fortunes as miners. The residents initially named the town ‘Florence’ in 1882. The railroad line was extended to northern Minnesota to ship iron ore from the town of Tower to the ports in Duluth. By 1988, that line was further extended to Ely. It was time to become legal, but a town only two miles to the northeast was discovered with the name Florence, The second choice was ‘Ely, named after the ‘Isle of Eels,’ a wetland near Cambridge, England, and the town officially incorporated as Ely on April 23, 1888.

Geographically noteworthy is some of the oldest rock on the planet, two billion year old greenstone and granite formed in the Archeozoic Era.

Events & Festivities

The Blueberry/Art Festival is held the last full weekend of July and Harvest Moon Festival in mid-September. Other events include the Ely Farmer’s Market at Whiteside Park every Tuesday throughout summer and fall, the Ely Marathon at the end of September, the Ely Winter Festival, the WolfTrack Classic sled dog race in February, and a variety of other events throughout the year. For up-to-date information and announcements visit the Ely Chamber of Commerce.

Services

Ely offers most major services, including lodging, restaurants, outdoor outfitters, hospital, clinic, and many unique shops.

 

 

Access Point For access to the Mesabi Trail™ from Hwy 169, turn north onto N. Central Ave/Pioneer Road and continue for three blocks. Trail access and parking is on the right.
Ely Access Point

For access to the Mesabi Trail™ from Hwy 169, turn north onto N. Central Ave/Pioneer Road and continue for three blocks. Trail access and parking is on the right.

Ely Bike & Kicksled (Including Bike Rental) Ely Bike & Kicksled (Including Bike Rental)

125 North Central Avenue
Ely, MN 55731

218-365-2453

Website

A FULL service bike shop, offering bike rental & sales (fat tire, mountain, gravel and youth), bike repair, and a full line of accessories & parts. For the winter months, check out our Finnish made Esla kicksleds; rental and sales. Hours: Monday to Friday, 10 a.m.- 5 p.m.

Range LP Gas Range LP Gas

1613 East Camp Street
Ely, MN 55731

218-365-8888

Website

Range LP Gas is a full service / propane delivery company on the Iron Range. Offering a complete service department to repair or install your propane appliances with 24/7 emergency service! Stop by or call our Virginia or Ely store and find out how we can help with your propane needs.

The Pebble Spa Co. – Ely The Pebble Spa Co. – Ely

229 East Sheridan Street
Ely, MN 55731

218-365-0809

Website

The Pebble Spa Company is currently made up of 2 cozy spas in the heart of northern Minnesota. Experience the best of the spa world but with the excellent service of the small town! Offering massages, facial treatments, foot & hand treatments, spa parties, couples treatments, holistic healing and phenomenal clothing and gift boutiques. Visit our spas in both Ely and Virginia!

Ely Farmers Market Ely Farmers Market

721 East Sheridan Street
Ely, MN 55731

Website

Tuesday 5pm – 7pm; Last Tuesday in May to September. At Whiteside Park. “Bringing you locally sourced and organic plants, produce, baked and canned goods from the finest producers, farmers and artisans in the Ely area.”

Motel Ely

1047 East Sheridan Street
Ely, MN 55731

218-365-3237

Website

Locally owned & operated, this quaint environmentally conscious motel offers impeccably clean & comfortable rooms, offering some of the lowest rates in Ely...without sacrificing quality or service. Make a stay in Ely part of your Mesabi Trail adventure - in the heart of the Superior National Forest, main entry to the BWCAW.

Piragis Northwoods Company, Inc.

105 North Central Avenue
Ely, MN 55731

218-365-6745 or 800-223-6565

Website

Piragis Northwoods Company and the Boundary Waters Catalog have been supplying canoe paddlers and campers since 1979 with top-quality equipment that you can easily pack and carry. Our goal is to make your canoe trip as enjoyable and easy as possible. We are canoe trip outfitters in Ely, Minnesota. If you can't make it to the store - be sure to shop online!

Northern Lights Music Festival Northern Lights Music Festival

Performances in Aurora, Buhl, Chisholm, Ely and Virginia

218-780-2292

Website

Discover Great Music on Minnesota’s Historic Iron Range / July 1-26, 2021
One of Minnesota’s largest music festivals, offering lovers of classical music three weeks of opera, chamber music and orchestra concerts presented by an international roster of guest artists, performing faculty and prize-winning young artists. Special adapted opera for KIDS – Rossini’s Cinderella.

Northern Lights Music Festival

Performances in Aurora, Buhl, Chisholm, Ely and Virginia

218-780-2292

Website

Discover Great Music on Minnesota’s Historic Iron Range / July 1-26, 2021
One of Minnesota’s largest music festivals, offering lovers of classical music three weeks of opera, chamber music and orchestra concerts presented by an international roster of guest artists, performing faculty and prize-winning young artists. Special adapted opera for KIDS – Rossini’s Cinderella.

Northern Lights Music Festival
Ely Bike & Kicksled (Including Bike Rental)

125 North Central Avenue
Ely, MN 55731

218-365-2453

Website

A FULL service bike shop, offering bike rental & sales (fat tire, mountain, gravel and youth), bike repair, and a full line of accessories & parts. For the winter months, check out our Finnish made Esla kicksleds; rental and sales. Hours: Monday to Friday, 10 a.m.- 5 p.m.

Ely Bike & Kicksled (Including Bike Rental)
Ely Farmers Market

721 East Sheridan Street
Ely, MN 55731

Website

Tuesday 5pm – 7pm; Last Tuesday in May to September. At Whiteside Park. “Bringing you locally sourced and organic plants, produce, baked and canned goods from the finest producers, farmers and artisans in the Ely area.”

Ely Farmers Market
Range LP Gas

1613 East Camp Street
Ely, MN 55731

218-365-8888

Website

Range LP Gas is a full service / propane delivery company on the Iron Range. Offering a complete service department to repair or install your propane appliances with 24/7 emergency service! Stop by or call our Virginia or Ely store and find out how we can help with your propane needs.

Range LP Gas
The Pebble Spa Co. – Ely

229 East Sheridan Street
Ely, MN 55731

218-365-0809

Website

The Pebble Spa Company is currently made up of 2 cozy spas in the heart of northern Minnesota. Experience the best of the spa world but with the excellent service of the small town! Offering massages, facial treatments, foot & hand treatments, spa parties, couples treatments, holistic healing and phenomenal clothing and gift boutiques. Visit our spas in both Ely and Virginia!

The Pebble Spa Co. – Ely
Motel Ely

1047 East Sheridan Street
Ely, MN 55731

218-365-3237

Website

Locally owned & operated, this quaint environmentally conscious motel offers impeccably clean & comfortable rooms, offering some of the lowest rates in Ely...without sacrificing quality or service. Make a stay in Ely part of your Mesabi Trail adventure - in the heart of the Superior National Forest, main entry to the BWCAW.

Piragis Northwoods Company, Inc.

105 North Central Avenue
Ely, MN 55731

218-365-6745 or 800-223-6565

Website

Piragis Northwoods Company and the Boundary Waters Catalog have been supplying canoe paddlers and campers since 1979 with top-quality equipment that you can easily pack and carry. Our goal is to make your canoe trip as enjoyable and easy as possible. We are canoe trip outfitters in Ely, Minnesota. If you can't make it to the store - be sure to shop online!

Funding Source

The Mesabi Trail™ has been funded in part by the LCCMR and the Minnesota Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund.