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.

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Stephen Regenold

Stephen Regenold is Founder of GearJunkie, which he launched as a nationally-syndicated newspaper column in 2002. As a journalist and writer, Regenold has covered the outdoors industry for two decades, including as a correspondent for the New York Times. A father of five, Regenold and his wife live in Minneapolis.