Annual Events

Join us throughout the year and immerse yourself in our 18,000 acre classroom. We provide a variety of outdoor events and educational opportunities, so you can get the most out of the beautiful seasons we all share.

Upcoming Event

Discovery Weekend: Discover your Boulder Lake ELC - July 24-25 - 10-3pm each day (Free)

Are you curious of what's going on out the the Boulder Lake ELC?  Stop out the weekend of the 7/24-25th between 10am and 3pm to learn more about YOUR ELC. Did you know we are open 7 days a week? have 22 campsites, ~20 miles of trail, rent canoes among other equipment, and provide excellent environmental educational opportunities.  Come out and talk to our great staff and volunteers!

Over the weekend you will be able to:

  • Go for a paddle with ELC canoes (we provide PFD's and paddles)
    • We typically rent canoes for $30/day.  For this weekend only you can head out on the reservoir for up to 1hour free.
    • Available between 10-3pm each day - First come basis
  • Guided naturalist hikes
    • Heading out each hour between 10-2pm
  • Self exploration - We have ~10 miles of trail mowed
  • Games - We will have Kubb, Bocce and other games available to play at the ELC

Boulder Bats: Our nighttime friends - July 24th @ 7:45pm - 9:30pm (Free)


This program will have 2 parts. Part 1: Learn about the native bats that call Northern MN home and how White-nose syndrome

is affecting them.  Part 2: Learn how BLELC staff is monitoring bats through a hands on demonstration that will show you how we are able to identify the different species as they are emerging for their nightly feeding.

Registration Required

If you are interested in supporting the ELC please consider donating.  All donations go towards removing barriers to programming and opening nature to all.   Donate

Turtles of Boulder Lake - August 7th @ 10:00am (Free)

Snapping Turtle

Starting each year in early June, female snapping turtles make their way out of the Boulder Lake Reservoir and onto land to

begin depositing eggs into nests they dig with their hind legs. With over one hundred nests counted this year, it’s well known that the area is favorable for snapping turtles. Join us to learn why the Boulder Lake Management Area contains significant habitat for snapping turtles and how their reproductive success is limited by predators that dig up their nests and consume the contents.

Open to all ages.

Cost: Free


If you are interested in supporting the ELC please consider donating.  All donations go towards removing barriers to programming and opening nature to all.   Donate

Astro Bob Presents: What's up with the moon (And a sneak peek at the fall aurora season) - Aug 14th @ 8:15pm

Astro Bob

We'll explore our nearest cosmic neighbor and then get better acquainted with the bright planets of summer and fall. We'll also look forward to the upcoming aurora season. 

Weather permitting, we'll go out after class for a close-up look at the moon, Saturn and Jupiter through a telescope

This program is open to all ages.  

Cost: $5/person; 10 years old and under are free

When: 8/14

  • Start time: 8:15pm
  • End time: 9:30pm if bad weather; 11pm or later if clear skies (you are free to leave at any time).

Where: Boulder Lake ELC

Registration Required

Presenter Bio:  Bob King fell in love with the night sky and astronomy when he was a kid growing up in Illinois and loves to share his passion with people of all ages. Bob worked as a photojournalist and photo editor at the Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune for 39 years before retiring from the paper in 2018.

These days, when he's not chasing comets and auroras, Bob writes for Sky & Telescope's website and magazine and maintains the Astro Bob astronomy blog. He also teaches community education astronomy classes at the University of Minnesota-Duluth planetarium.

His books Night Sky with the Naked Eye and Wonders of the Night Sky You Must See Before You Die describe the joys of skywatching, while Urban Legends of Space, examines science vs. pseudoscience in astronomy.

Registration Required

If you are interested in supporting the ELC please consider donating.  All donations go towards removing barriers to programming and opening nature to all.   Donate

Previous Events:

Astro Bob Presents: Stars, Planets and Satellites of the Summer Sky - July 17th @ 8:45pm

Astro Bob

Learn basic astronomy concepts along with the bright constellations and planets of the summer sky. Weather permitting, we'll

go out after class for a close-up look at the moon, Saturn and other deep-sky wonders through a telescope. 

This program is open to all ages.  


Wildflower Hikes - May and June from 10am-11:30am (FREE)

Wildflower hike

Spring is here and the wild flowers are blooming! Bring your favorite field guide and join us on a hike in the Boulder Lake

Environmental Learning Center area to look for and enjoy the spring flowers. We will look for spring ephemeral flowers like Hepatica, Large-flowered Bellwort, Nodding Trillium, and many more early blooming flowers. We may find an orchid in bloom and we might see a carnivorous plant in the bog. Meet at the Wolfski welcome center for this fun spring outing. Bring your binoculars if you wish to check on the spring bird migration during the hike.

Due to continued COVID protocols we limit the size of the groups to 6 participants.

Saturday Birding Hikes: May 22nd and 29th from 6:30am - 10am (FREE)

Join us for a leisurely, 2 mile, round-trip bird-watching stroll at Boulder Lake! We’ll search for fascinating migratory warblers like the Wilson’s and Blackpoll Warblers. We’ll also look for our lovely summer residents like the Scarlet Tanager and Rose-breasted Grosbeak. And we’ll scan the waters for birds like Wood Duck and Belted Kingfisher. These walks are for beginner birders and visitors are welcome to come and go as they please. Binoculars will be provided for those who need a pair. Spotting scopes are encouraged for waterfowl viewing. Meet at the Wolfski welcome center (North parking lot by main gate).

Boulder Lake ELC Annual Tree Giveaway - May 22nd from 9am -2pm (Registration required)

Gravel Bed

On Saturday 5/22 from 9-2 (or all trees are gone) Boulder Lake ELC will hosting our annual tree giveaway.  Donations towards

the learning center will be accepted.  We will have White pine, White spruce, Paper birch, Red oak, Red Maple, Juneberry, Elderberry, Chokecherry to name a few...full list of trees available along with quantities will be posted one week prior to the event (once we know the stock that we have).  

Boulder Lake ELC Annual Birding Big Day - May 8th from 7am - 12pm (Registration required)

Boulder Birding Big Day

Join us on May 8th, 2021 for our annual birding big day. Team up with birders of all levels to count as many species of birds as possible (hit the trails and try to break the current record of 93 species)! This event is brought to you in partnership with the Duluth Audubon Society.

This is a family-friendly event where small teams of birders of all experience levels spend the morning counting as many species as they can near the Boulder Lake area.

Shed Hunting:  April 11th between 9-2pm (FREE)

Come out and learn about shed hunting through this free event. Shed hunting is an outdoor recreation activity that involves hiking in the woods looking for deer antlers that naturally fall off bucks after the rut in late winter. Besides learning more about the activity of shed hunting you will also have an opportunity to learn basic GPS and Map and Compass skills. This is a free opportunity and limited to 6 people per session. We will provide three sessions.

Let's Talk Vultures!  March 15th @ 7:00pm (FREE)

Join us for this two-part presentation about one of the most underappreciated species on the planet. This first part will be a ZOOM talk on March 15th @7:00pm that will introduce you to the vultures, why they're so important, and why they're on the brink of extinction. Part two will take place in April, (Date to be determined).  We will meet at Ely's Peak to learn more about (and hopefully observe) our own Minnesota turkey vulture. 


Presenter Bio:

Kelli Carroll is a sophomore at UMD in the outdoor and environmental education program. She plans to intern at a wildlife rehabilitation center next year, and wants to work as a vet tech for wildlife when she graduates. She's always had a love for underappreciated animals, and vultures are her absolute favorite. When she's not gushing about turkey vultures, you can find her hiking, playing video games, and getting distracted by dogs.

If you are interested in supporting the ELC please consider donating.  All donations go towards removing barriers to programming and opening nature to all.   Donate

Family Tracks and Traces: February 15th - 19th

Join us as we explore the signs of the woodland creatures that call Boulder Lake their home.  These outings are for households and family pods and will be tailored to your group and the ages of the participants.  Pre-registration is required at least 24hrs prior to the event.  Due to COVID 19 policies, programming will be held for single households or family pods ONLY per session. 

Each session in 2 hours and we have session starting at 9am and 12pm 

Maximum groups size is 6.
Prices: $10/adult, $5/18-12 years old and 11 and under free.

Bring check (made out to Boulder Lake ELC) or cash on the day of the event


Annual Events

Night Ski and Snowshoe

  • Typically the 3rd Saturday in January

Boulder Birding Big Day

  • Typically the 2nd or 3rd Saturday in May

Spring Tree give-a-way

  • Typically the 3rd or 4th Saturday in May

National Public Lands Day

  • Typically end of September

Winter Holiday Tree cut

  • The First Saturday in December

Wreath Making Workshops

  • The first week of December