Tofte Lake Center

Now celebrating our 10th anniversary, TLC is a non-profit organization which provides residencies for artists who crave dedicated time to work on their projects, for creative individuals who seek individual growth through guided workshops or retreats, for organizations that want to make time to re/focus on their goals or mission, for leaders to gather to exchange ideas with colleagues in their field. 

TLC believes that every individual is creative at his/her core, and offers programming that enables the creative impulse to come to the fore. Through its artist-in-residence weeks, curated group projects, and guided retreats and workshops, TLC strives to create an environment where self and group expression can be extensively and intensively explored.

Lovingly referred to as Norm's Fish Camp (in honor of the resort's previous owner), TLC also offers boating, swimming, fishing, hiking and biking along with a sauna, library, meeting space, public performance space, artist studios and comfortable, fully-equipped cabins for our residents. 


Artist Spaces

Tofte Lake Center utilizes the facilities at Norm’s Fish Camp, which include residential cabinswork and performance spacescommunity areas and recreational equipment. These facilities are set amidst woods and hills on 12 acres of forested land that are located on the shore of Tofte Lake, a dedicated trout lake surrounded by the Superior National Forest.


All four artist-in-residence cabins are hand-crafted wooden buildings with plenty of windows with views of Tofte Lake, and provide complete kitchen and bathroom facilities.

Bedding and bath towels are provided, and kitchens are complete with pots, pans, utensils, dishes and paper towels, napkins, dish soap.

Cabins and Rates: June - September 2019

Our goal is to provide affordable residencies to the fullest range of artists and arts organizations across race, class, gender, geography, age, and discipline. To ensure this, TLC substantially subsidizes each residency week. Your artist's share of the total cost is reflected below.

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2 bedrooms (double bed/writing desk  in each); loft/work-space (single bed, sleeper couch, desk); kitchen; bathroom; dining-living area with wood stove; deck with lake view plus screened in porch.

Your Cost is $1200 per week

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1 bedroom (double bed), loft (2 single beds); kitchen; bathroom;  dining-living area with wood stove; porch with lake view.

Your Cost is  $1100 per week

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1 bedroom (2 single beds);  eat-in  kitchen; bathroom;  living area with writing desk; deck overlooking the lake. 

Your Cost is  $800 per week

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1 bedroom (double bed); kitchen; bathroom; spacious deck.

Your Cost is $800 per week


Work and Performance Spaces

These work studios are available free-of-charge to all TLC artists in residence.

Osprey Deck

A screened gazebo atop a hill with view of lake and woods, for writing and meetings, and, if you're lucky, a massage.

The Owl Library

A space for meetings, reading, writing and games, with hundreds of art and theater books.


The Doodle

Our visual artist studio, with desks and countertops for art projects, with printer, office, and art supplies, nestled in the woods. 

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The Aerie

Our recently completed rehearsal and performance space boasts a dancer-friendly Harlequin floor, with views of trees and lots of breeze. A new sound system and great acoustics allow for live concerts, dance, and all kinds of movement. Weekly yoga


Community Areas

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Picnic Area

Picnic tables and a campfire pit overlook Tofte Lake and its remarkable dinnertime sunsets.


The RoadHouse

A casual dining and gathering space with kitchen facilities, fireplace for chilly spring and fall nights, basic technical equipment, and internet. Ideal for conversation, work sharing, and games, especially ping pong matches.



This traditional Scandinavian wood-fired sauna is located on the lakeshore for quick leaps into the lake before and after a cleansing sauna bath.

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Recreational Equipment

TLC provides  our guests use of rowboats, canoes, kayaks, paddle boards and a sailboat. While some fishing tackle is available, guests who are avid fishers are advised to bring their own tackle and licenses or procure them in nearby Ely.


TLC at Norm's Fish Camp 


Residency Programs


Tofte Lake Center provides a broad range of options for artists and arts organizations to participate in week-long residencies. We hope you will apply to be considered for one or more of our season's fifteen weeks of programming.


Applications are open October 1 though November 30, 2018

Residency Options:

The Emerging Artists PRogram

The Emerging Artists Program, sponsored by the Jerome Foundation, will be in its tenth year of offering artists from Minnesota and the five boroughs of New York City an opportunity to further explore their work, and to connect and share their process with artists across disciplines. 

The Gaia Fenna Memorial FELLOWSHIP

The Gaia Fenna Memorial Fellowship, in its fifth year, was created in honor of artist and nature lover Gaia Fenna, a close friend and supporter of Tofte Lake Center.  This weeklong retreat is open to a Minnesota artist who exemplifies in their work and life Gaia's spirit, passions, and values.

Individual artist and Group/Organizational Residencies

Individual Artist and Group/Organizational Residencies are offered for both individual artists and groups or organizations looking for space and time to connect, create, and reflect together in community and in nature.

Guided Workshop Retreats


Guided Workshop Retreats can be organized around any creative discipline. These have included mosaic instruction, visual art and photography, artistic interaction with nature, installation art, and Forest Bathing.

The 2019 Guided Workshop Retreat:

Shinrin Yoku/Forest Bathing with Tom Bezek


Grant Opportunities to help fund your Residency.


For artists from Minnesota, there are several grants that could help fund your residency.


Plan Your Stay

If you’ve never visited the Boundary Waters before, you will soon discover that you are in a very special place here at the “end of the road.”  If you have spent time up here before, hopefully your experience here at Tofte Lake Center will be just as unique as the place itself.  We hope that you will be able to take full advantage of the combination of relaxation, work, community, solitude, nature, and activity that TLC has to offer, and come away from your stay both relaxed and reenergized.

Getting Here


From Minneapolis/St. Paul to Ely

  • Take 35W or 35 E north, these freeways converge into 35 North

  • Take the exit to Cloquet, HWY 33

  • From HWY 33, merge onto HWY 53 North towards Virginia

  • 4 miles after Virginia, exit on to HWY 169 East towards Ely (not Hibbing!)

  • Stay on HWY 169 into Ely where it turns into Sheridan Street

From Ely to Tofte Lake Center

  • Continue East on Sheridan Street (HWY 169)

  • Tofte Lake Center is located 15 miles from Ely, at 2209 Fernberg Road (Check your odometer as you pass the Dairy Queen)

  • Continue past the International Wolf Center and the town of Winton

  • We are 11 miles further than the Veterans on the Lake (GPS will tell you otherwise)!

  • Just before the Garden Lake Bridge the road name changes to the Fernberg Road (Lake County 18)

  • The entrance to Tofte Lake Center is on the left, 100 yards after the public boat launch


Hibbing Airport

  • Hibbing Airport is an hour and forty-five minute drive from Tofte Lake Center

Duluth Airport

  • Duluth Airport is a 2+ hour drive from Tofte Lake Center

Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport

  • Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport is a 4-5 hour drive from Tofte Lake Center

Ground Transportation

Ely Safe Ride

  • The Ely Safe Ride service provides shuttles locally in the Ely area and between Ely/Duluth and Ely/Minneapolis

Skyline Shuttle

  • The Skyline Shuttle offers 14 shuttles per day/night between Duluth/Minneapolis Airport


Arrival and Departure Information


Cabins will be ready by 2:00 p.m. on Monday.  


Please check in at the orange Roadhouse Building upon your arrival. 


Overnight guests are welcome to park cars by the Roadhouse Building. Please only drive down to the cabins to load and unload your belongings.


Departure time from the cabins is noon on Sunday. As you vacate the cabin, please strip the beds and pillows that have been used and leave towels and linens on the bedroom floor.  Please leave the cabin as you found it. Also, please remove all unused food products and use the garbage/recycling bins provided.

What to Bring

The weather here can go through four seasons in a day. It doesn't hurt to have these things on hand to be prepared and make your stay most comforatble.

  • Indoor shoes or slippers (shoes off in cabins)

  • Layered clothing for temperature changes throughout the day

  • Rain jacket

  • Umbrella

  • Hat (for sun AND bugs!)

  • Water bottle

  • Bug repellant

  • Sunscreen

  • Flashlight

  • Walking or hiking boots

  • Sauna/lake shoes and towel

  • Journal

  • Camera

During Your Stay

Cooking Indoors And Out

Each cabin is equipped with a full kitchen and kitchenware for your cooking and dining pleasure. There is a gas grill, a small charcoal grill, and a wood burning pizza oven here for your culinary enjoyment! Outdoor cooking supplies and utensils are located in Jawz, the green fish house.


There is a communal phone in the Roadhouse Building. Cellphone reception exists at various locations along the Fernberg Road as you drive back towards Ely.  The nearest location for some cellphone services is the lookout point at Rookie Pond, about ½ mile west on Fernberg Road towards town.


Bed linens and bath towels are provided for your use. There are no guest laundry services provided at TLC.  There are two laundromats in town on Sheridan Street open until 9:00pm.


Pets are only permitted with prior permission, and an added non-refundale cleaning fee of $50 applies.

Internet Access

Wireless Internet access is provided on-site in the Roadhouse Building. In Ely, it is provided at the Public Library free of charge, and at The Front Porch and Northern Grounds Coffee Shops.


Boats, hiking trails, bicycles and 12 acres of forest and lakeshore are available for our artists to enjoy while in residence. Kayaks, rowboats, canoes, paddle boards, sailboat, and bicycles are all on-site, and arrangements can be made for one-day excursions on other lakes in the Boundary Waters, as well. 

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW)

Tofte Lake Center is nestled near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Northern Minnesota. The largest wilderness area east of the Rockies, the BWCAW consists of more than one million acres of protected forest and 1,500 waterways. Its clear lakes and green pine forests are unlike any other wilderness in the world. Read more about it on the BWCAW website.

Other Local Activities

Just 15 miles away, the town of Ely features shops, restaurants, bars, coffee shops with internet access, a bowling alley, a golf course, and unique museums.

Learn about the native wildlife in the region at the acclaimed International Wolf Center and The North American Bear Center.

Visit the home of one of Ely’s most well-known and colorful characters, the Dorothy Molter Museum.

For more info about events in the area, check out the BWCA info in this link.

Resources We Love

We'd like to share with you some of what informs us here at TLC, so we've created a resource list for you of our favorite books, articles, videos, TED talks and more. It's a great list...and please don't spend too much time on your screen! We'd be thrilled if we knew you were outside in nature taking time to renew your creative spirit - just like we do here at TLC.



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creativity & mindfulness

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2019 Residencies

applications are being accepted for 2019 residencies until November 30, 2018. Please check back for next season’s programming.


2019 Public Performances

stay tuned - our 2019 events and performances are still being programmed. we hope to see you there!

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2019 Yoga Classes

our yoga classes are offered twice a week during our summer season. please check back in the spring for our 2019 schedule.