About Ely

About Ely, Minnesota

Ely, Minnesota, not to be confused with Ely, Nevada, is located in the upper northeast corner of Minnesota. It’s north of Duluth, but south of International Falls and Grand Marais. Ely is a two-hour drive from Duluth and about a four-hour drive from Minneapolis/St. Paul (Twin Cities).

Originally a timber town, then a mining town, Ely is now a well-known tourist destination because of its unspoiled forests and lakes. Of course, summer seems an obvious time to take advantage of the area’s natural bounty, but winter holds its own beauty and attraction.

The myth about the cold

Some who live in Southern Minnesota speculate that because it is uncomfortably cold in the Twin Cities it must be even more so in Ely. Not so! Because we do not have the wide open spaces of the plains of southern Minnesota, and because the air here is very dry in winter, we do not have the driving winds and biting humidity as in the south. Because the cold does not penetrate, if properly dressed you can comfortably stay outside for extended periods of time, even in low temperatures.

What to bring

Obviously, a good jacket, boots, hat, gloves or mitts, and a scarf. Don’t have these items? Ely has two specialty businesses that manufacture outdoor wear, some made right here in Ely. Steger Mukluks are world-famous footwear for snow and cold. Wintergreen Northernwear creates outerwear used in Arctic treks, so you know that’s warm!

There are local businesses that can provide you with cross-country ski equipment, dog sledding trips, snowmobile rentals, ice skating equipment – whatever you need to enjoy your time up north. We urge you to support our local winter businesses, especially our sponsors.  Check them our sponsors here.

For more information, contact the Ely Chamber of Commerce who can help you find whatever you need in the area.

Ely Weather


If you would like to donate to the Ely Winter Festival, we are a 501(c)3 non-profit and deeply appreciate your gifts!