Trip Report -- Big Bog, Minn.

Just got back from an odd one. This weekend I traveled to northern Minnesota and the Red Lake Peatlands, a spongy, hard-to-access wilderness that is the lower 48 states’ largest bog.

This “Everglades of the North” covers nearly 500 square miles of area, and it is an alien place where carnivorous plants dine on bugs, wolves and moose roam on soft earth, and orchids bloom in the green.

The $400,000 boardwalk that reaches 1 mile into the bog.

It is a region of rare landforms called flarks and strings, where ovoid islands are surrounded by rivers of ooze. For the assignment, photographer TC Worley ( and I took a sightseeing flight in a four-seater Cessna and tromped the boardwalk at Big Bog State Recreation Area.

We snooped for moose, spied on tundra swans, and hiked a section of bouncy ground for a peek at the Big Bog’s mysterious inner sanctum of spongy earth and ooze.

Here are a few photos from the trip. Watch for a full story soon.

View from above: An oxbow creek in the bog; photo from the seat of a Cessna.
“Ovoid Islands.” These are one of many unique landforms in the bog.
Bog land as far as the eye can see.
Regenold (left) and Jerry Stensing, a guide with Big Bog Eco Tours.
Our 4-seater Cessna for the air tour.
Approximate area the bog covers.
Park Manager Doug Easthouse hiking the boardwalk that reaches 1 mile into the bog.
Hello wolf print in the sand!
Stensing hiking the boardwalk.
Tundra swans on a wild rice paddy at the edge of Big Bog.
Posted by Darryn Kozak - 05/16/2008 07:40 AM

I’ve always wanted to visit the “Big Bog”. Just didn’t think I’d get in deep enough to truly experience it. Is it suitable for a family tourist outing?

Posted by Stephen Regenold - 05/16/2008 08:13 AM

Yeah, if your family is into nature and/or birding. Not a high-action kind of place, though the fishing on Red Lake can change that.

Posted by TC worley - 05/19/2008 08:14 AM


I might go back for a wknd and stay in a “camping cabin”. They are rustic, with electricity, but no water. Nice for families with young ones. There are a lot of animals, or at least clues to animal activity to see. Terrain is – as you might guess very flat, so no tough hikes either. One of my favorite things were the carnivorous plants! Any kid can appreciate that.

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