It’s easy to get started on planning your wilderness vacation…
Getting started with your canoe-trip plans is as simple as asking yourself a few questions . . .
Who wants to come?
We like traveling in small groups. Two is ideal, whether it’s a couple, a parent and child, or just two close friends. Many aspects of canoeing lend themselves to a group of two.
We find a group size of three to six to be good for social reasons and to divide work nicely. Maximum party size allowed in the Boundary Waters is nine persons. Larger parties can split into two groups, but must travel and camp separately at all times. Larger groups can have trouble finding campsites with enough room, and mealtime can be a chore.
Odd numbers are not a problem, because of our solo and three-person canoes. Solo trips are great — the ultimate way to experience the stillness and solitude of canoe country.
What sort of experience do you have?
You don’t need to be a seasoned paddler to do a wilderness canoe trip, but your experience level may be a factor in deciding where and how far you want to travel. It is a good idea to have at least one person in the group with some outdoor experience in camping and canoeing.
There are trips for every level of comfort and experience. We will help you with any instruction you might need, so you feel prepared and comfortable on your trip. Guided trips are available for those who want that extra help.
What do you want to do and see?
This is the most important decision to make. Find some consensus in your group about what you wish to do while in canoe country. Then think about how important each activity is. Try to prioritize.
Fishing and photography can take lots of time, so plan accordingly if these are on your list. We can help you choose which activities and sights will go well together in your trip plan.
How long should you stay?
We have outfitted trips from two days to twenty-five days, and have not come up with the perfect number. Trips of five or six days seem about right to get the city out of your system and see some territory. Longer trips are good for experienced outdoor folks and those who really want to get away. Three- and four-day trips are good for those with limited time, but it is difficult to cover much water.
We recommend base-camp trips for short stays of three or four days, as you will spend less time doing camp chores and more time having fun while you get to know an area.
One thing we find is that people do not plan enough time to do the everyday duties and chores of camping — setting up and striking camp; cooking, eating, and cleaning up. Make sure you include this in your plan.
When can you come?
Today’s work and school schedules are complicated. We outfit parties from fishing opener (usually around May 15) till September 30. Each time of the summer has its advantages.
See When to Come below for more about what’s going on throughout the summer.
In years past, most people did canoe trips by traveling ten miles a day every day, rarely stopping or slowing down. It isn’t much of a vacation unless you’re out to prove something. It is, however, the best way to see the inner regions of the wilderness area and to get to lakes where others seldom go. We would encourage a little time to soak up the scenery once you “get there.” It’s also exciting to see what’s around the next bend or over the next portage.
Although we don’t have many guests traveling ten miles every day anymore, some travel amazing distances. Lightening your load becomes very important when you move every day.
Setting up a base camp is the easy way to go, and you don’t have to feel guilty about bringing a few extras. You can travel into the wilderness area for one day, with only a few portages (in some cases, none!) and set up camp for the duration of your trip. This lends itself to fishing, photography, and pure relaxation.
Families with younger children should consider a base camp. Then each day your family can concentrate on fun and exploring, instead of camp chores and getting to your next camp.
Something in Between
Most of our guests travel some and take a layover day every few days. This is the best mix of seeing new territory and getting to know a place well. It’s the way we like to travel, too. You need some time to settle into a place and see its various faces and moods to truly appreciate it. The same goes for fishing. You need some dedicated time to find the really good spots and how the fish are biting. All in all, this is the best way to explore and learn from canoe country.
Paddlers in the BWCAW and Quetico must have overnight permits, and they are limited. It is always good to arrange your permits as early as possible, in order to have the most options available to you. Weekends, holidays, and better entry points fill first. Several months’ notice is suggested to ensure a good permit, but we can usually obtain permits even on a moment’s notice if you are not too particular about where you go or can be flexible with your dates. Maximum party size in both BWCAW and Quetico Park is nine per group, with four canoes.
Day-use permits are required but are not limited. They are available at our base.
BWCAW permit fees are $16 per adult, $8 per child, plus a $6 reservation fee to the USFS. We do not charge to make reservation for our guests.
Quetico permits are $20 Canadian per person per night. If you’ll be entering Canada, you must also clear immigration by mail ahead of time, which entails a $40 processing fee. See RABC Application
We prefer to reserve permits for all our parties and provide this service with all our outfitting services.
For information about reserving your own permit go to Boundary waters reservation center or call 1-877-550-6777.
Quetico reservations can be made by calling 1-888-668-7275.