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“Happy to be back”
Review of Timber Wolf Lodge

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Timber Wolf Lodge
Ranked #1 of 34 Specialty Lodging in Ely
Certificate of Excellence
Owatonna, Minnesota
Level Contributor
7 reviews
3 hotel reviews
“Happy to be back”
Reviewed September 7, 2013

After 4 years away from our annual summer vacation. We returned again this year to Timber Wolf Lodge. We found updated cabins with new beds and new furniture.

A big "thank you" to Chad, Angela and Kate who made sure we were comfortable and had everything we needed. They were terrific hosts and and a great part of the TWL team!!

Room Tip: Cabin 9 is probably the best two room cabin on the lake and a sunroom has been added since we were t...
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  • Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Jim and Vickie H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Timber Wolf L, Owner at Timber Wolf Lodge, responded to this review, September 12, 2013
WELCOME BACK JIM & VICKIE - and thank you for taking the time to tell you story and for sharing your kind words about Chad, Angela and Kate! I'm really glad that you enjoyed the updates to the cabins and furnishings. Every year we will keep the improvements coming.

We hope to see you again in 2014! Again - thanks!
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178 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
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English first
Houston, Texas
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed September 7, 2013

I was pleased to join family last July at Timber Wolf Lodge.
As the most senior of the group it was such a pleasure to relax and watch children, grandchildren, nephews and even great nephews participating in all the activities at the Lodge. I relaxed on very nice lawn chairs by the lake and watched the children fish, swim and jump off of the trampoline.
One grandchild took me around the island in a canoe and I even helped paddle. The wooded area around the lake was so peaceful and inviting for hiking, we saw beautiful birds while canoeing around the lake.
The cabins were very clean and well supplied. Meals were easily prepared with so many dishes and cooking utensils. The coffee provided at the cabin was just perfect for waking up and enjoying on the patio while taking in the peacefulness of the woods. We did go into the town of Ely to enjoy nice restaurants and shopping. Ely is a nice little vacation town and we were impressed with the friendly local people.
I live in Houston where July is extremely hot so I really enjoyed the cooler than Texas evenings. Timber Wolf Lodge will be a wonderful memory for me and I will encourage my Texas friends to visit and play, fish, and just relax and enjoy.

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank Carol W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Timber Wolf L, Owner at Timber Wolf Lodge, responded to this review, September 9, 2013
How great Carol! And thanks for traveling all the way from Texas to join us this summer! It is reviews like this that bring an extra bounce to our step here - knowing that our hard work and reinvestments into the cabins, furnishings and décor at Timber Wolf Lodge are being noticed and appreciated by guest like you!

It sounds like your family of all ages really relished your time here. What great news! And thank you for continuing the tradition of your family get together. I'm sure from the youngest to the oldest will love the memories, photos and the like for years to come.

We also love to hear when that our guests made at least one trip into Ely. Our little town seems to add new restaurants, shops and destinations each year. I recently took some RV guests up to Taste of Ely and enjoyed a good meal and their outdoor patio concert. Just a great way to enjoy the summertime!

Come back and enjoy us sometime. Try to stay cool in Houston in the meantime! :)
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Golden Valley, Minnesota
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed September 1, 2013

Spent a long weekend here for a family vacation. The cabin we stayed in did not feel like most cabins it was much more. They were spacious, clean, comfortable, and had nice amenities. I slept like a baby on the sleep number beds and enjoyed sitting by the lake each morning sipping a hot cup of coffee from the Keurig. Location is close enough to Ely, but not too close. Great location for all sorts of outdoor activities. Kayaking was so peaceful up there, fishing was good. Will definitely be going back!!

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank Anna B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Timber Wolf L, Owner at Timber Wolf Lodge, responded to this review, September 2, 2013
We are so glad that your cabin was more than expected and that you enjoyed our new Sleep Number Beds and your morning coffee with our Keurig coffee makers. That's one of my favorite things too - that first cup of coffee on the deck overlooking bear Island Lake! Its just great!

I'm glad that you enjoyed your kayak adventures and the peaceful surroundings. Please come see us again!

The owners, managers and staff at Timber Wolf Lodge.
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Minneapolis, Minnesota
1 review
Reviewed August 21, 2013

I had a fantastic weekend trip up to Timber Wolf Lodge in Ely and can guarantee that it will now be my go-to north woods vacation spot for many years to come. As a native Minnesotan I have come to be familiar with many of the beautiful locales in this great state, and Timber Wolf Lodge has now provided me with a new spot to have a fun and relaxing time in a place of absolute serenity. The staff was extremely friendly and helpful, always happy to offer a hand or some interesting information about nature and the wildlife on the lake. The lake itself is amazing with plenty of room for any water activities such as canoeing, tubing, or kayaking and also has some great fishing hot spots. Bear Island on the lake houses at least 8 pairs of nesting bald eagles, and it is not uncommon to see the eagles over the lake. The cabins were extremely cozy and felt just like home. They were clean, well furnished and provided an authentic yet very comfortable cabin experience. Overall, my time at Timber Wold Lodge was amazing and I will be recommending it to all of my friends for their next vacation.

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Dave S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Timber Wolf L, Owner at Timber Wolf Lodge, responded to this review, August 26, 2013
Dave S - Yes it was great hosting you and your college buddies for your summer trip up north. We enjoyed our trek with you to Kawishiwi Falls and the cliff jumping here at Bear Island Lake! Thanks for noticing the attentiveness of our staff. Getting applause from our guests here on Trip Advisor really makes our staff feel proud of the work we do here.

Thanks also for your kind note on your cabin. Yes Cabin 2 is a great lakeside retreat and always gets high marks from our guests. And you're right - our families of Bald Eagles have been very active on the lake.... quite a sight!

We hope to see you again next year at Timber Wolf Lodge!
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White Bear Lake, Minnesota
1 review
Reviewed August 15, 2013

As a "pre-kids" couple we used to canoe into the BWCA and loved it. Timber Wolf Lodge was a great way for us to continue giving ourselves PLUS our two little ones the experience of the Northwoods with lots of creature comforts. We still got the pristine lake, canoeing, fishing, campfires, hiking, sunsets -- all from a great home-base cabin, and with the bonus of helpful staff to lead us to the fishing spots. They had a great water trampoline that our 3 year old conquered, and he got in good canoe paddle practice for the future!

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Michelle F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Timber Wolf L, Owner at Timber Wolf Lodge, responded to this review, August 17, 2013
Thank you Michelle F -

And thanks for the great picture of your son and his prize fish! That's great! Your perspective on Ely "pre-kids" versus after was really fascinating to us. The whole idea that for one generation to pass along this region to the next the families have to shift how they enjoy Ely and the BWCA. My kids are 3rd generation Ely and it is true that the way we enjoy it is different than 50 years ago. Yet it is interesting that from generation-to-generation we come away with old truths... a winding path, water, fishing, discovery, waterfalls... the way we take it all in... and what Ely does inside of us... is probably pretty similar to generations past. Let's keep sharing!

So thank you for your perspective and allowing us to give your young family the opportunity to experience Ely along with the family-friendly amenities that we offer. One of our joys is to be the little place in the woods where those experiences happen and where those memories are formed.

We hope to see you in 2014!
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Austin
1 review
Reviewed August 15, 2013

Sometimes, it's so nice to be reminded how an uncomplicated vacation should be given higher status to a trips success. Not fussy at all but fantastic venue for fun, relaxation, activities and a great family maker. Priceless. We honestly enjoyed our time at this lodge as much to some of our more exotic vacations. Our teens had a blast.
Clean air, customer service a priority, darling cabins, a small but very adequate Marina and fantastic fishing. And if that's not enough, the offerings in nearby Ely/Boundary Waters should round it out.
One heads up: get everyone appropriate fishing license's. DNR does not mess around. Timber Wolf lodge fishing piers almost feel like you are on private land, but DNR definitely patrols the area.
Thanks Timber Wolf Lodge for being such great hosts. The kids are already asking us which week we are returning next Summer.
Best,
Dana S.
Minneapolis, MN

  • Stayed July 2013
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Texmom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Timber Wolf L, Owner at Timber Wolf Lodge, responded to this review, August 21, 2013
Dear Texmom -

We really enjoyed reading your review - your reminder of an uncomplicated vacation... no fuss.... just fun, relaxation and a time to reconnect with those you love. Very cool insights. Thanks for sharing them. And to have TWL be compared to some of your more exotic vacations is a real compliment. I understand what you mean. A lot of our guests vacation on an exotic island one year and then return to our no fuss tranquility the next. Both are great options and we're glad that your family carves out the time to enjoy your family like that!

I'm also glad that you enjoyed our little hamlet of Ely.... quite a special place! And thanks for sending out the DNR advice to our Trip Advisor guests too.... Its good advice to make sure to get the family fishing license before arrival. Kind regards to you from the whole TWL staff. Come back and see us sometime!
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Westbrook, Minnesota
Level Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed August 12, 2013

I have been staying in Minnesota resorts since I was a child. As an adult I make sure to take one family vacation with the children to build the same type of memories. I have been vacationing in Ely now for years and love it. My family had made reservations for Timber Wolf Lodge the year the Lodge burned down. We were very sad about having to reschedule our vacation with another Ely resort that year. When we learned that TWL had reopened we were ecstatic and booked our vacation for this August back in October. There are a lot of nice things TWL has to offer but I was left with a sour taste in my mouth.

TWL promotes itself as family friendly, but I found that not to be true in my case. I have three small children and live in the SW corner of the State. We have found this to be too long for our little ones so we break the trip up and stay in a hotel on our way up. A few days prior to our scheduled arrival I called TWL and explained my situation to see if it would be possible to have any sort of early check in as we would be staying as late as the hotel would allow. I was informed by Angela that early check in was not possible as NO cabin was ready before 4 p.m. I questioned whether they all get cleaned at the exact same time and whether all cabins actually were ready only at 4 p.m. I again was given a scripted answer that the earliest ANY guest could check in was 4 p.m. I then asked if we were to get there earlier than the 4 p.m. check in whether it would be possible to park out of the way and let the kids swim at the beach until our cabin was ready. I was again told that was not possible as they strongly discourage this as well. I will admit I was a little taken aback as this has NEVER been an issue at any other resort I have stayed in while in Ely. I asked why this was not possible, half out of curiosity, and half out of disbelief. Angela then informed me that it is because they have trash out during this time. I was a little confused because who would keep trash on their beach??? Further, they have an RV campground with seasonal and monthly guests. These guests are there during the time they are "flipping" the cabins and have access to the beach, so I am still unclear why this was an issue. I then explained my frustration and explained that flexibility was one of the important things I looked for when vacationing with my young children and that this was one of those "deal breakers" in years to come as I know these issues do not exist with other resorts. I was then given what sounded like a scripted line that this was a standard check in time and policy of beach use by the resorts in Ely. I KNOW that is not true because I have spent years vacationing in Ely. Even when our cabin was not ready until the stated check in time we have ALWAYS been allowed to swim at the beach. Further, no other resort I have stayed in had a check in time as late as 4:00 p.m. I was curious and did some more research regarding check in times and found most of the resorts check in time was either 2:00 or 3:00 and a number of them allow early check in when possible, and some even clearly state so on their webpage.

Angela did suggest I could take the kids to the Wolf Center or Bear Center but these are places I have already been and quite frankly I am looking for a fun relaxing time at the lake. If I wanted to spend my time in Ely, there are a number of places I could have booked in town. Out of desperation/frustration I asked if would be possible to call the day of and see if there was any chance our cabin might be ready even slightly early. At first Angela said that she would not even be in the office to take the call but then said she would call me the day of our arrival, I left my cell phone number for her to contact me. On the day of our arrival I never heard from her. A little before 3:00 I tried calling as we had already been hanging out in Ely for a good chunk of time and the kids were really restless. I was again told the same line that "no cabin would be ready before 4:00 p.m." This was not a great start to our vacation and did not leave me feeling very welcomed. Imagine my disbelief when I read the following statement found in our cabin "And we want you to know right now that no request from you is insignificant to us. So please let us know if there is something that we can do to make your stay more pleasurable.”

We get to the resort at 4:03, because heaven forbid we should be a minute early; and we are left filling out paperwork, or as they called it "homework" which takes a good twenty plus minutes. My only suggestion here is that if you are going to call it "homework", please send it to us so we can do it at home, and not eat up valuable time; because as it turns out they close the office at 5:00 p.m. We did not get to our cabin until after 4:30. By the time we unpacked the vehicle it was after 5:00. Upon further inspection I realized the cabin did not have a strainer to do dishes and we did not have trash bags. There were a number of other things that I did not have but I was out of luck because the office was closed and no one was available except "in cases of an emergency." While these were service issues they were not what I would consider an emergency. It seems insane to me that you are going to enforce a strict check in time and then only be open for an hour after your guests arrive??? That does not give guests adequate time to get situated and even know they have a problem or question.

The next day I went down to the office during "business hours" but no one was there and there was a sign on the door that they were off on the property but to call a number and if they were in a place where they did not get cell phone reception to leave a message and they would call when they get back. What??? Keep in mind this is the same place you have to get your bait, ice, firewood and any rentals you want. They state in their book left in the cabins that "guest matters are more important than resort matters" yet every time I or my husband went down to the office because we needed something (bait, firewood, etc..) or by the office when we went to the beach or on a walk, no one was ever in the office. It got to the point we just went into Ely to get bait and ice. One time in the middle of the day when we went to clean fish, we did see staff doing a significant amount of dish washing in the fish house. They did move the dishes so we could clean the fish.

The new management is not a local family or couple that resides at the property. We were informed that it is now being run by a real estate development group. While there is nothing wrong with this it lacks that personal feel that allowed me to feel connected with the staff. There was another female staff and she was really nice and helpful when we ran into her, however the majority of my experiences were with Angela. The office was only open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Who keeps those hours anymore? Especially in the service business???

They show they have an inflatable water trampoline with attachments. In fact this picture was located on the cabin website for our specific cabin and even when you look at a copy of the property on their website the trampoline shows these additional attachments. This is not true. There were no such attachments, which was a huge disappointment to my 5 year old who had looked at the pictures and had his heart set on jumping on it. That said, the beach is very nice sandy beach and they have placed some very comfortable chairs on the beach. Their beach is one of the nicest of the resort beaches I have been on in Ely.

I stayed in cabin 10 and the property map shows it being slightly further back on the property and off to the side of cabin 9. This also is not accurate and is slightly deceptive. The only view you have when looking toward the lake is a view of cabin 9. In fact, the "master" bedroom window looks onto the cabin door of cabin 9. We had family that was also staying in cabin 9 so this was less of a problem for us, but had we not known the people in cabin 9, this would have been a bigger issue. The bedroom with the sleep number bed in it did not have an actual dresser or a closet. There is a bar hung across the wall, but the best I could find was 6 hangers. Also, cabin 10 says there are three bedrooms (as the four season porch is being counted as the third bedroom). I would not call this a bedroom. There is no place to put any of your clothing or belongings, there was no artificial light source that worked in the room, and there is a door leading directly outside from that room. With three little ones I was not going to put any of them in a "bedroom" where they would be able to just walk out of the cabin and I would not know. So we essentially paid for an extra bedroom that we could not use for that purpose. Nowhere did it state there was a door leading directly outside from that third bedroom That said, there was a great deal of space in cabin 10 which was very nice for the kids to be able to move around when it rained. The cabin had a gas stove which was also really nice.

The cabins are very nice and spacious and it appears they are trying to add additional comfortable furniture. The "three season porch" is a great idea but there is still work that can be done there. It shown in our cabin picture that there is a lamp out there which did not exist in our cabin or cabin 9. There was however an overhead light available in this room.

The property itself is nice. There is enough room to go for "hikes" with the kids yet still have access to hiking for adults. We were able to go blueberry picking without ever having to get close to the highway. We also saw a rather large black bear just outside the property gate.

We still had a great time. If I were looking at just the property itself TWL is a great option for our family. What it lacks is that ability to get to know the owner and that extra personal touch of feeling like you matter to their bottom line and that this is a business built on service and relationships. Nowhere in our stay was I left with the impression this was a resort aimed at building those lasting relationships which create repeat customers. For this I am sure Doug will always be missed. If you need flexibility because of young children traveling long distances, it kills me to say it, but I would suggest you strongly consider another resort.

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
5 Thank LoverOfAllThingsEly
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Timber Wolf L, Owner at Timber Wolf Lodge, responded to this review, August 31, 2013
Thank you for your review of Timber Wolf Lodge. Our experience has been that nearly all of our guests can appreciate the fact that our staff has just 6 hours each Saturday in which to entirely clean 29 bedrooms, 12 cabins and a 23 site RV park. And since Timber Wolf Lodge is nearly 100% full from June 1st to September 1st we weren't able to pre-clean your cabin. If we had empty cabins at TWL then early check-ins would be easy to accommodate. But we don't.

In addition to the interior cleaning we also attend to our lawns, private beach, sauna, docks, 12 boats and motors, trash, recycling and the myriad of things that break and must be maintained or replaced as part of our preparations to host dozens of new guests at 4pm each Saturday. And from the high ratings that we receive on Trip Advisor it appears that about 95% of our guests think that we do that pretty well.

At 3pm each Saturday our managers and lead housekeeper begin Final Inspections of each cabin in order to assure that we keep high standards for our guests that will be arriving in just 1 hour. Invariably we find flaws during these inspections and we radio staff members who scurry to make sure things are right.

And since we communicate our 4pm check-in time to each guest a) when they reserve; b) when we send our pre-arrival email and c) on all of our Internet and written communications, we feel that we are pretty fair to the hundreds of friends that vacation with us each summer.

You are absolutely RIGHT that we did not rebuild the owner's quarters after the fire. Instead we invested $330,000 in cabin remodels, new furnishings and décor. For instance, I'm glad that you noticed that in Cabin 10 we transformed a useless garage into a gorgeous 20' X 20' cedar 3-season porch that is surrounded by windows and nature. You might remember the sign that USED TO hang in front of the old garage "Closed by order of the Fire Marshall". That's gone now and the new cedar porches in Cabins 9 and 10 have become guest favorites for which we receive frequent compliments and never complaints.

This is true of the Sleep Number Beds, the new hewn log bedframes and all of the other interior and exterior furnishings that were installed in 2012 and 2013. So yes it is true that we had to make the decision as to whether to invest $330,000 into our own home or to direct that towards our guest cabins and comforts. We chose the latter. And, as the owner, I have been so grateful for the showers of praise that we receive in person, by email, in letters and cards or via Trip Advisor from Doug's past guests who tell me personally that they LOVE the improvements to Timber Wolf Lodge. It's great when you invest in others and it's so powerful when folks notice both the effort and the investment. It's a beautiful exchange.

Lastly, since I am unaware of any other resort near Ely that has a staff naturalist who hosts free guided family adventures each week --- I don't know how to respond to the notion that Timber Wolf Lodge is not family friendly. These free guided explorations into Kawishiwi Falls and our morning kayak trips on Bear Island Lake offer an opportunity to introduce parents and children alike to this unique place called Ely. As a parent of 5 children myself, I can say that we strive to serve families. And after re-reading our many Trip Advisor reviews from families I get the sense that most agree.

We LOVED your suggestion that we send our guest check-in papers via email one week before arrival. GREAT suggestion - and we have adopted that into our weekly routine. We have also CHANGED our staff hours on Saturday and now have a staff member doing rounds to each cabin from 5pm-7pm. That was a fantastic observation that will help to alleviate future concerns like your missing dish drain. We always improve when our guests give us constructive criticism.

BTW - our overnight guest service folks are REALLY WONDERFUL and have been returning to Timber Wolf Lodge themselves for over a decade. They live about 25' from our office. If they can't address your needs then our managers are ON-CALL 24/7. And those cell phone numbers that are posted mean that any guest can reach us at any time for any reason.

Lastly, as the owner of Timber Wolf Lodge, this is my 50th year returning to Ely, MN. As a child I spent my summers on Burntside Lake and in my teen years I worked at the resorts and have embarked on many memorable adventures in the Boundary Water Canoe Area. This has given me a deep and abiding LOVE for Ely and all that she offers and a sincere desire to share Ely with the 900 or so cabin and RV guests that we host at Timber Wolf Lodge each summer.

The owners and staff of TWL wish you well.
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Additional Information about Timber Wolf Lodge

Property: Timber Wolf Lodge
Address: 9130 Escape Road, Ely, MN 55731
Phone Number:
Location: United States > Minnesota > Ely
Amenities:
Beach Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Suites Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 34 Specialty Lodging in Ely
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Number of rooms: 12
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Founded in 1937 - this marks our 78th year of hosting family vacations on beautiful Bear Island Lake near Ely, MN. Our guests give us a Top 5 Ranking on Trip Advisor because they love 1) our Sleep Number Beds (we're the only area resort that has them); 2) our remodeled cabins; 3) our new furnishings including new mattresses, pillows and linens and 4) our quick-to-serve staff. Each week our staff will host a free guided tour of Kawishiwi Falls, one of the most majestic waterfalls in the region. Bring your camera and make lasting memories this summer. Your family will also enjoy our private sandy beach and new water trampoline. In addition to our fishing boats, our marina offers you a 19' Larson ski/tube boats and a Northwood's pontoon. Each of our cabins feature the new Keurig single-cup coffee brewers - enjoy a fresh brewed cup of coffee every morning compliments of us. There is just something about that first cup of Starbucks or Caribou coffee from your lakeside deck overlooking the tranquility of Bear Island Lake. Relax & de-stress. We offer 12 cabins that can sleep from 1 to 14 guests. Next door is our Good Sam Accredited RV Park with 23 sites. Our resort covers 75 acres of woods and rests along the shores of 2,362 acre Bear Island Lake. Timber Wolf Lodge is a very special place! ... more   less 

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