An Outdoor Adventure with Nature is what you can expect when you have an Ely, Minnesota resort cabin vacation for your family at River Point Resort. Sandy swimming beaches are spacious and safe. Enjoy the adult and teen kayaks, paddleboats, and pontoon boats. Read on a sundeck, engage in a challenging game of horseshoes, explore trails that wind along the scenic rocky bluffs bordering River Point, or take a day canoe trip into the Boundary Waters BWCA. Sit around the bonfire and tell stories. Delight in a cookout at one of the campsites on the lake. Go canoeing or kayaking. Whatever your activity or respite, we’ve got it for you.
FREE amenities for the guests
Sauna and Garden Shower
Everyone needs a break from the normal stress, tensions and noise of every day life. A perfect retreat to escape to anytime when on vacation at River Point Resort & Outfitting Co. is to the warm enveloping heat of a Sauna. Combine that warm heat by gently sprinkling water on the rocks of the sauna’s electric stove and that provides the ultimate way to reduce stress and ease aching muscles.
Of all the countries that come to mind when a sauna bath is mentioned, Finland, is the most familiar. Finnish history, and taking a sauna are so intertwined, one automatically associates every sauna as being a Finnish sauna. The sauna was not considered a luxury to the Finnish people, as after toiling in the fields all day, it was a necessity to take in a sauna in the early evening. The glowing heat of the sauna would relax the muscles and soothe the soul of the weary worker. History tells us that Finnish people left rejuvenated, hungry for a large meal and maybe a dance at a neighboring farm.
In villages, it was common for farmers to take turns preparing the Sauna. When it was ready, the farmer with cowl staff in hand, would knock on his neighbors’ doors and shout, “Come, the bath is ready!” Besides its social value, the sauna was the only place warm, germ-free and with plenty of water. The old Finnish proverb, “Saun on koha apteet” says “The sauna is the poor man’s apothecary.” And, so the history and tradition carries on in the Finnish culture and has spread into many other cultures, as a sauna bath truly is most relaxing and beneficial to the body, mind, and spirit.
River Point’s Sauna has a dressing room, separate bathroom, and the cedar paneled sauna room with a ceramic tile shower. Overall the sauna is a dry sauna with just a small amount of steam, if water is poured over the hot rocks. Temperature in a sauna typically ranges from 160-200 degrees Fahrenheit with a low level of humidity, ranging from 5-30% or so. The sweating opens pores and can temporarily cleanse the outer skin, but sweating in a sauna does not necessarily remove toxins from within the body as some people believe. A sauna will make you sweat and relax, lower your pulse and blood pressure by causing blood vessels to dilate, and remove salt from your system. It is most important to stay hydrated when in the sauna and drink plenty of water before and after using a sauna. Limiting the bathing time to 15-20 minutes the first few times helps to get use to the experience.
A lovely cedar Garden Shower with a sweet path to access it is adjacent to the actual sauna building. So, two places to shower! Bring your soap and shampoo and experience the fun of a shower “open to the sky” at River Point’s Garden Shower In addition, on the east shoreline of River Point’ peninsula a dock awaits those who want to do the extra step to finalize their experience…..as the Finns always do….a jump in the lake is the crowning touch to a good Sauna bath!
Having a bonfire is a Minnesota tradition. Why not enjoy one with family and new-found friends right at River Point Resort & Outfitting Co. in one of the three brand new outdoor fire pits right at the water’s edge. Watch as daylight turns to dusk with good conversation, marshmallows to roast, songs to sing, and friendly camaraderie. Complimentary firewood … all you want!
The great wilderness area of the Superior National Forest surrounding River Point is perfect for exploring the back trails by mountain bike.The 1.3 mile gravel drive leading into River Point is great for biking, too. The drive leads to highway #1…from there, just a very short distance connects the avid mountain biker to a round-trip 8 miles into the deeper forest with bumps, ruts, brambles and branches, along the way, as well as total peace and solitude.
Plan to use your muscles and work up a sweat–good exercise for those who want it. Pack a lunch, grab your swimsuit for a dip in one of the lakes along the way, before the bike trip back to River Point. And, don’t forget your camera for a great day biking the North Woods. Bring your own bike, or rent one from the local bike shop in Ely, and enjoy.
Hiking the “Trail of Reflections”
Hike this beautiful trail, located on River Point’s peninsula, which takes you to glorious picture perfect vistas overlooking the Kawishiwi River as well as to private spots deep within the forest. The trail is completely signed and has a trail reference guide for those wanting to learn more about the North Woods of Ely Minnesota.
The “tall timbers” section of the trail is particularly interesting, with its white pine trees gracing the rocky cliffs that are hundreds of years old. Amazing beauty. It is not unusual to spot soaring bald eagles and catch sight of the many deer that abound on this “little bit of heaven.”
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Birding at River Point
Don’t forget your binoculars! Birding in the Northern Minnesota wilderness provides an excellent vacation.
The Superior National Forest is located in the transition zone between the boreal forest and the northern temperate forest, and has one of the greatest, if not the greatest diversity of breeding birds of any national forest.
An ever-growing number of River Point guests are coming for the wonderful bird-watching. In the summer, the forests of Lake County are literally alive with over 100 species of birds. Of the 800 species of birds living in North America, 422 have been spotted in Minnesota. And, northern Minnesota surely has its share. Birders really need only a good resource book, binoculars, and walking shoes–so birding is not only loads of fun, but a relatively inexpensive outdoor activity to do.
The area around River Point is a stop along the migratory path for many species. Cape May warblers, pileated woodpeckers, great blue herons, American bittern, Bohemians Waxwings, and northern parula are just a few of the species that people can encounter in this region. The region’s unique geography, from peat bogs, Birch Lake and the South Kawiishiwi River, to boreal forests, helps attract a variety of birds, various species of ducks, as well as loons, and bald eagles. Bird watching is a natural fit with hiking and biking and other sports at River Point.
Ely’s Vermillion Community College ornithologist, Bill Tefft has birded across the region for more than 25 years and he offers this top pick of places to go if you’re hoping to view (and hear) birds.
The amazing Boreal habitat breeders, Mourning Warblers and Cape May Warblers were spotted in addition to Yellow-shafted flickers, Pileated and Downy woodpeckers, Rose-breasted grosbeak, Red-breasted nuthatch, Easter phoebe, American kestrel, Bluejay, Turkey vulture, American goldfinch, Black-capped chickadee, Ruby-throuated hummingbird, Herring gull, and a ton of Warbler: Nashville, Blackburnian, Northern parula, Ovenbird, Black and white, Canada, Magnolia, American redstart, Black-throated green, and Yellow-rumped.
Bobby S. from Clifton, VA came for both a fishing and a birding focused vacation at River Point in late May/early June. He reported many of the same species, including the Mourning Warblers and the Cape May Warblers, and also observed additional species: European starling, Great Blue Heron, Turkey Vulture, Broad-winged hawk, Eastern Meadowlark, Canada Goose, Common Merganser, Belted Kingfisher, Hairy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Red-eyed Vireo, and Tree Swallow.
Think birding at River Point for your next northern Minnesota resorts vacation. Much fun to be had!
Birch Lake Dam
The Birch Lake Dam is located on the South Kawishiwi River, which is the west border of River Point Resort. The dam is a hop, skip and a jump from River Point by either boat (1 mile) or by foot or vehicle (1.5 miles).
Birch Lake Dam is Tefft’s all time favorite location for birding. The area, which was first mentioned in one of the oldest guides to birding in Minnesota, has been a hot spot for literally decades. Teft says it is still one of the most dependable birding spots in the area. Lots of morning sun attracts the warblers, flycatches and other birds. Water is right there, so waterfowl can be counted on. You can even walk along the dike that extends on either side of the dam for a better look at the surrounding treetops. Adjacent is a gravel road which is also a birder’s fun spot to check out.
Picnicking, on Land and on Water
Picnics are absolutely lovely. We highly recommend them here at River Point Resort & Outfitting Co. Impromptu cheese-and-cracker-affairs, roasted hot dogs and chips, or wine, and fruit with cheese; but, it’s not really about the food you bring, it’s the fun of eating in our beautiful wilderness.
Whether you pack “no-fire” food for a picnic on a trek on River Point’s “Trail of Reflections”, or one of the local trails surrounding Ely, or if you boat on Birch Lake, it is all about the “coolness” of being outdoors. The “Trail of Reflections” follows the shoreline of the South Kawishiwi River taking you to fantastic cliffs to gaze upon the water below…perfect spot to rest and have a picnic, too. Or, select a cool, shady place deeper in the wooded part of the trail making for an especially good choice on a hot summer day.
A picnic on the shore of Birch Lake is especially delightful, as there are some 13 different spots conveniently equipped with a fire grate for cooking. Hot dogs on a stick would be great. Or, fresh caught walleye could also be a wonderful way to enjoy a lakeside picnic, with the satisfaction that you caught them, and cooked them…simply cannot get any fresher than that!
Griddles, spatulas, and other small equipment items to make your picnic a success are readily available at River Point…just ask. And, good advice as to where trails are in Ely to picnic at, or information on the campsites are on the lake, along with a map, is yours for the asking. With local grocery and convenience stores nearby, there is no reason not to experience a wonderful picnic, North Woods style.
Anyone can enjoy stargazing, and all that is needed is a superb spot to do it, some warmer evening clothes, and your interest to do so! River Point Resort & Outfitting Co. has a huge peninsula of land with a mile of shoreline, so finding your private spot to marvel at the brilliant night skies is easy. Take a lawn chair, your favorite cup of coffee, or beverage and head out to spend time with Mother Nature for an hour or two. Sunset varies with the month, but by 10:00 pm it is dark and perfect for stargazing. Finding the various constellations is a fun and relatively easy thing to do. Having a book or your phone or IPad to reference can be helpful. There are Apps that make stargazing even more fun, such as Sky Walk, and others.
One of the most wondrous things to observe in the night sky is the incredible Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights. The Northern Lights, one of several astronomical phenomena called polar lights are shafts or curtains of colored light visible on occasion in the night sky. They are caused by a complicated set of interactions between the solar wind and Earth’s magnetic field.
Can I see them anywhere?
Yes you can, although more frequently at higher latitudes, closer to the poles (such as in Canada, Alaska, Antarctica…and northern Minnesota), they have been seen closer to the equator as far south as Mexico. To search for them, look in the direction of the closest pole (the northern horizon in the northern hemisphere).
What causes the colors and patterns?
Colors and patterns are from the types of ions or atoms being energized as they collide with the atmosphere and are affected by lines of magnetic force. The Northern Light display may take different forms, including rippling curtains, pulsating globs, traveling pulses, or steady glows. The various colors that may show are affected by altitude. Blue violet/reds occur below 60 miles (100 km), with bright green strongest between 60-150 miles (100-240 km). Above 150 miles (240 km) ruby reds appear. With recent developments in satellite and ground observations, it is now possible to forecast “space weather” near Earth resulting from disturbances on the sun, but, just like with weather forecasts, nothing is for sure. Without a guarantee that they will appear as predicted, most often, one must just be out star gazing at the right time to catch the truly remarkable phenomenon of the Northern Lights show.
Shopping at Wolf Den Gifts
Superb shopping right at River Point. Offering specialty North Woods apparel, including versatile plush sweatshirts, comfy t-shirts, rainwear, hats, and other clothing. Also available are specialty items such as cozy fleece throws, handcrafted collectible figurines, and many other gifts and souvenirs, plus a fine line of small home accents that lets you “Bring Home the Woods.”
Wolf Den Gifts gives you the convenience of a relaxed, pleasant shopping experience right at River Point for those special gifts that provide lasting memories of your wilderness holiday. Resort shopping opportunities for special North Country treasures at the Wolf Den Gift Shop for the houe sitter, the baby sitter, the up-coming wedding gift, and so much more.
Go on your own Wolf Howling excursion on River Point’s private peninsula. Wolves howl for many reasons within their tightly knit pack. They have special relationships with the members of their pack. Howls can be for a variety of reason caused by the social relationships within the pack. You can “howl” for wolves right on River Point’s property on Birch Lake. Quietly, listen if they howl back at you. When they do, it is a true moment of silence in the woods, as you take in the experience of “just what happened.”
Usually, evening is the best time to howl. Simply walk down River Point Road a short distance, and try giving out a big “howl” and see if the wolves “howl” back at you. You most definitely will feel a bit foolish at first, but after a few tries, you will get the knack of it and the reward could be in the wait to hear if you are offered a response. Patience is key!
Snacking, Sipping a Soda, and Meeting Others
River Point’s, Wildwood Lodge, finished in knotty pine with a beamed and vaulted ceiling, floor to ceiling stone fireplace, and comfortable furnishings is a great place to meet others. The Lodge houses a snack/beverage bar offering: soda, beer, pizza, ice-cream and homemade goodies, relaxing TV-watching area, video and book libraries, and educational information about the environment and the North Woods.
Hang out and play a game of checkers, meet other guests, and enjoy conversation about nothing in particular. Linger a while and enjoy!
Snacks and beverages, including pizza, ice cream, beer, sodas, and more are available in the Wildwood Lodge. Local grocery stores offer great food options for preparing and enjoying your meals at River Point’s gorgeous lake facility in the comfort of your Vacation Home-your Ely Minnesota cabins-with full kitchen and outside gas grill. Or, drive into Ely, roughly 10 minutes away, for many dining choices from simple and inexpensive to gourmet fare. River Point does not offer a full-service restaurant.
Leaf Peeping…in Spring and Autumn
Time to get your Peeps on! Northern Minnesota is home to four stunning seasons.
Spring can surprise. Northern Minnesota’s spring time gets a bit overlooked for a different type of leaf peeping. Spring brings forth a burst of new buds on the aspen, paper birch, and maple trees. Buds burst open, and fresh new chartreuse-green foliage appears. The amazing transformation of the woods starting with the delicate shades of green, turn to the more intense greens amidst the fresh pine scented conifers quenching ones thirst for spring after the white of winter.
From mid-May through early June, the newness of the forest is alive with vivid greens of the new foliage on the trees, and a multitude of wildflowers that are in bloom. This is a perfect time to enjoy nature at River Point when strolling through the property and hiking on its “Trail of Reflections.” Flowers, such as the Northern Blue flag, Violets, Wild Roses, Rose Twisted-stalk, Pitcher Plants, Columbine, Yellow Lady-slipper, Wintergreen, Wild Strawberry, Naked Miterwort, bloom in late May-June, and are great fun to seek out.
Put on your hiking boots and take off for an adventurous hike on one of the many trails in the Ely area for other spots to seek out the newness of spring and the many wildflowers that are in bloom. Hiking trail information and wildflower guides are readily available in the Wildwood Lodge at River Point.
Talk about “living color.” Autumn at River Point presents a palette of incredible color. To take it all in, you’ll need all five senses—and then some. The Superior National Forest is filled with trees all trying to out color their neighbors at this time of year. Nestled in the woods, is River Point Resort, an ideal spot to immerse yourself in the blaze of autumn foliage.
On warm days, the water still invites you to take off your shoes and roll up your pants, and step in. On chilly days, you just feel like putting on a cozy sweater and heading out into the woods. When you return to your comfortable accommodation, you can find a warm spot in front of the fireplace to enjoy a book, a cup of tea, a glass of wine, or a snuggle.
Generally, the first part of the yearly transition begins in very late August as the ferns and lower bushes turn to soft hues of yellow. Shortly, thereafter, the leaves begin to fade from their greens as September comes. There can be superb color by the second and third week of September…sometimes even peak time then. Everything depends upon the weather…how much wind, how much rain, both of which will bring down a shower of leaves. But, then you have the bonus of walking through the crunch of fallen leaves. You will find River Point Road cradled in color, and the 3.2 mile-long hike, round trip, is considered to be at the top of the short list of “must do” when on vacation.
Take a leaf peeping drive. Grab your picnic lunch and leisurely make you way up and down scenic highway #1, taking the little dirt roads to the left or to the right, as you discover them….they will amaze you. This area is one of the best kept secrets for color galore. The magnificence of autumn is yours for the taking right at the doorstep of River Point Resort & Outfitting Co.
Relaxing…Rejuvenating, and “Not Doing”
Vacation….it’s about getting away, and it’s also about your space and your time…you decide the moments…you decide if you will “do something” or “do nothing”. The biggest decision of the day might be how long to stay inside or when to give in to the lake’s calling. When you will cook if you feel like, or just graze your way through the day.
Welcome to River Point Resort….where the pace here is nothing more, and nothing less than what you choose for it to be. Welcome solo travlers, families, couples and multi-generation groups. Relax, refresh, read a book, gaze into space, watch grass grow, take a lovely nap, and think and contemplate about absolutely NOTHING…if that is what you choose.
Immerse yourself in the relaxing, natural ambience of River Point Resort. These and other magical moments await you!