About the Boundary Waters Canoe Wildernes Area (BWCA)

Aerial view of BWCA
Where is Ely?

Northern Minnesota can be described as canoe country! If you like physical exertion and the warm feeling of dipping your paddle into lake water to propel your canoe, then wilderness canoeing could be for you.

Minnesota's Boundary Waters Canoe Area and Ontario, Canada's Quetico Park form one of the world's special wilderness areas; the largest international area set aside for wilderness recreational purposes on the globe. For thousands of years, this area has served as a travel route for native peoples and, more recently, as one of the primary routes to the west for European explorers and fur traders. The so-called Voyageurs' Highway traverses what is now the BWCA and Quetico Park. Today its quiet waters and non-mechanized mode of travel serve as a haven from the pressures of modern-day living.

Boundary Waters (BWCA)

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, protected as a true American wilderness, has changed little since the glaciers disappeared. Canoeing, and fishing opportunities are endless on the 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 waiting, the BWCA boasts some of the country's best 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, comprises the northern half of this international canoe country. At 1.2 million acres, Quetico Park is  Ontario's 2nd largest wilderness park area. Routes differ slightly from the U.S. side (not better & not worse). Portages and campsites are more primitive because the park does not have portage crews managing the area (the BWCA does). With few exceptions, whatever can be found on one side of the border, can be found on the other side of the border: wildlife, fishing, and both isolated solitude as well as busy areas. The most noticeable difference is the nightly, per person, camping fee charges to visitors of Quetico Park.  NCCO is one of only two Ely outfitters to have been granted the ridged Outfitter / Guiding License by Manitoba.

More BWCA information