BWCA & Quetico Park

Aerial view of BWCA
Where is Ely?

Northern Minnesota is undoubtedly canoe country! If you like some physical exertion and the feeling of dipping your paddle into the water to propel your canoe, then wilderness canoeing just might be for you.

The combination of Minnesota's Boundary Waters Canoe Area and Ontario, Canada's Quetico Park forms one of the world's great wilderness areas; it is the largest international area set aside for wilderness recreational purposes in the world. For thousands of years, the area has served as a travel corridor for native peoples and, more recently, as one of the routes to the west for European explorers and fur traders. The so-called Voyageurs' Highway wandered through what is now the BWCA and Quetico Park. Today its quiet waters and non-mechanized mode of travel serve as a retreat from the pressures of modern-day living.

Boundary Waters (BWCA)

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness - BWCA, protected as a wilderness, has changed little since the glaciers melted. Canoeing and fishing opportunities are nearly endless with more than 2,000 lakes and streams found within the forest. With 1,500 miles of canoe routes, nearly 2,200 designated campsites, and more than 1,000 lakes and streams, the BWCA boasts some of the country's finest fishing for walleye, northern pike, and smallmouth bass.

The BWCA is part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. It is managed by the United States Forest Service. North Country, under contractual agreement as a "Cooperator", works with the Kawishiwi Ranger District, on the Superior National Forest. We also hold Guide/Packer Agreements, as well as Towboat / Van Agreements, with the Forest Service.

Quetico Provincial Park

Quetico Provincial Park, in Ontario, makes up the northern half of this international canoe country. It encompasses 1.2 million acres, Quetico Park is also Ontario's second largest wilderness park. Routes here differ slightly from the U.S. side (not better and not worse). Portages and campsites are a bit more rugged because the park does not have portage crews managing the area as is done in the BWCA. With few exceptions, whatever can be found on one side of the border, can usually be found on the other: wildlife, fishing, and both isolated solitude as well as busy areas. The biggest difference between the two is the nightly, per person, camping fee charges to visitors of Quetico Park.  North Country is one of only two Ely outfitters to have been granted the ridged Outfitter / Guiding License by Manitoba.

More BWCA information