Decades in the making, the Steger Wilderness Center in Ely is nearing completion. The sprawling complex is located just north of Ely on Pickett’s Lake and has served as a enter for learning, environmental awareness, skill development, community building, and leadership mentoring.

Final projects include essential infrastructure, including plumbing and some mechanicals to sheet rocking and other fine finishing work.

The center has grown over the years, self-funded via explorer Will Steger and some benefactors. But much work remains and your support is essential. Donations via the link below are essential for the completion of this extraordinary venue, which is being set up to serve as a gathering place for environmental study, a unique wilderness “laboratory” to draw attention to the climate crisis, and a center for personal development for people of all ages.

A unique vision and place in the Northwoods

Mission: The Steger Center sustains Will Steger’s legacy in an innovative wilderness setting for leadership, education, and training to boldly address our global challenges.

Vision: Leaders with the imagination and commitment to create a thriving, equitable and sustainable world.

Explore the Center Campus

The Steger Center campus includes 240 acres of wilderness, forest and lake, lodging and dining to accommodate up to 60 people, a woodshop, saunas, and private and shared cabins. The campus also includes trails, gardens, and access to Will Steger’s expedition archives.

The campus includes the iconic 5-story Leadership Center offers exclusive leadership retreat spaces for reflection and collaboration.



The Leadership Center was the initial vision Will Steger conceptualized in a tent in Antarctica during a 60-day storm. The Leadership Center was designed to take in the surrounding wilderness setting in all spaces across five stories; from the ground floor atrium, to the dining area on the 3rd floor, to meeting spaces on the 4th and 5th. Decks provide ample opportunity to move about the outdoor and inside environment. Every room is designed with the function to inspire imagination and creativity and cultivate community. It harnesses natural light, expert craftsmanship, sustainable wood, stone masonry, and fine crafted wood furniture in exquisite detail. It’s simply a work of art.

Explore The Center

Explore the Natural World

With over 240 acres of natural features surrounded by the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, the Steger Center is a wonderful place to explore, reflect and collaborate. Swim, paddle or fish on Pickett’s Lake, gather berries and fresh vegetables, or just reflect and collaborate with the Steger Center community. The property manages a 50-year forestry plan to replant native white pines and is a demonstration model for climate resiliency. The wilderness area is recognized as a Dark Sky sanctuary, one of the most remote and darkest places in the world. Experience the preservation of an unpolluted night sky, pristine waters, and woods.


Professional Craft

The Center has been constructed over the decades by professional craftspeople from around the world. The passion, attention to detail and willingness to teach and learn has created a unique place that inspires wonder. From the architecture of the Leadership Center, to the beautiful glass and stone work on the bathhouse, the Steger Center has some of the best architectural details in the wilderness.