National Forest Lodge

A Winter Recreation Experience for Traditional Cross Country Skiing and
Snowshoeing Amidst The Majestic Red and White Pines of
Superior National Forest.
Rustic… Remote… Tranquil…Unforgettable!

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Andy and Lura Welcome You

We are Andy Fisher & Lura Wilson and we’re very excited to be the new guardians of this unique, peaceful place in the pines.  We love the North Shore in all its glorious seasons and especially enjoy heading out on the ski trails when the snow flies.

We make our home about 20 minutes closer to Lake Superior on Highway 1.  It's there that we've enjoyed our roles as the builders-owners-innkeepers of the Baptism River Inn B&B since relocating from Minneapolis in 2000.  We love people and are looking forward to continuing in the National Forest Lodge (NFL) tradition as a quiet wilderness retreat for rejuvenating the mind, body and spirit.

While our B&B is relatively new, this lodge’s history dates back to the 1920’s, when guests would come all the way from Chicago and stay weeks at a time. Photographs from the early days depict an environment mostly devoid of trees, as was most of northern Minnesota in those days. The cabins that are currently in use are readily identifiable in the old photos. At that time, guests were met at the train station in Ely and driven down Highway 1 in a Model A. The owners at that time lived there year-round, although the lodge operated in the summers only.

It was expected that one would dress up for dinner, and lazy afternoons were whiled away on the screen porch of the old log lodge. A daily trip to the ‘pier’ for a boat ride around Lake Gegoka was very much a part of the experience. This scenario played out until World War II changed everything. The war years were sparse, and the advent of a more mobile society in the post war years left the NFL in the backwaters.

In the early 1960’s, NFL became ‘Gee-Go-Ka,’ a youth camp which was not terribly successful. Fire then destroyed the historic log lodge, which was replaced by the building in use today. The property sat dormant until being purchased by Bob Hunger in 1968. His initial plans were to use it to escort youth groups to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. In 1972, he moved to Isabella to work for the Forest Service and attempted to resurrect NFL as a resort business.

About that time, a big upsurge in cross country skiing and the establishment of the Environmental Learning Center at Flathorn Lake proved to be a good combination and for awhile it was like old times at the lodge. The establishment of the Flathorn-Gegoka Ski Touring Area gave Minnesota its first top notch trail system, and it was considered the premier ski trail in the state. But once again, things changed.

As more people discovered cross country skiing, new trail systems were developed all over Minnesota, and once again NFL was left to languish in the backwaters. 

Mark Wendt and Susan Pratt purchased the lodge in 1995 with the ideal of re-establishing it as the premier Minnesota cross country ski destination it was in the 1970’s and 80’s.  Their goal was to once again make NFL accessible to those of you who share a love for the quiet and remote beauty of this place.   They labored lovingly for thirteen years and succeeded in both enhancing and preserving the character of this unique destination before passing the torch to us.

Now it's our turn to carry on what's been shaped by the passing years and so many others before us.  Our commitment is to continue to preserve and care for this pristine, wild corner of the planet.  We believe the NFL's accessibility, tall pines, absence of motorized vehicles on trails and the abundant snowfall will make for an experience you won’t find in many other places! We invite you to be our guests here soon.

Blessings,

Andy and Lura

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