The North Country Advantage

The NCCO Advantage in a Nutshell

  • Location: Our outfitting base is located on a strategic lake versus in town on Ely's main street.
  • Custom Trip Planning: Prior to deter-mining an Entry Point for your trip, we offer an in-depth reservation request form, which, when completed, outlines your ability levels, travel expectations, goals of your canoe trip, and fishing preferences, so as to better plan your canoe trip.
  • Lakeside Accomodations: We offer private dorm style and motel style rooms for handy lakeside accommodations.
  • Lightweight Equipment:  We offer ONLY Ultra-Lightweight Outfitting equipment through our Silver and Gold packages.
  • Best Food:  We offer two top quality menus featuring both freeze-dried and fresh foods, including Certified Angus Beef® steaks as a regular menu item.
  • Discount Youth Trips: We offer significantly discounted package rates to non-profit youth groups, while using the same high quality equipment as for our private parties.
  • Fly-in Trips: We offer Fly-in Canoe Trips on a flat rate cost per person basis
  • Entry Transportation Included:  We offer both land transportation and towboat service from our base to all of the Ely area BWCA entry points (included with our Gold and Silver Packages), PLUS towboat service from Moose Lake to the Quetico Ranger Station at Prairie Portage.
  • NO HIDDEN FEES: Our brochure booklet lists all pricing information. Options which may result in an extra charge are all up front and transparent. No surprises later.

Why Outfit with North Country?

We want you to take your canoe trip with us. Also, we fully realize that no individual outfitter can be all things to everyone. For that reason, we have outlined some information that you might want to consider when selecting the outfitter that's right for you.

For every person that takes a trip into one of our sparkling lakes, there is a particular set of reasons for taking a canoe trip. Quite often members of the same party desire different things from their wilderness experience. And that is how it should be. Your outfitter should be in a position to take all of those desires into account, and be able to discuss them as he plans your experience. There are thousands of lakes in the area; each one is unique. Some are good for one occasion, others may be better for another occasion.

Talking to an outfitter (whether at a sport show or on the telephone) did he actually ask what you were looking for? Did he talk about beginning a trip from a particular lake, or a specific area, without really knowing your wants/needs? How close is he going to be when it comes time to design your route around your unique needs?

NCCO wants you to take the time to check out the things that we think make outfitting with North Country the best decision you can make. We are one of the premiere outfitting businesses in North America, with thousands of very satisfied customers.

No, we are not going to be the cheapest. If you are looking for a rate that is at the bottom end of the scale, we simply cannot help you at this time. If, however, you are looking for a special experience worth paying a extra for ... one that lives in your memory for years ... come see us. We can give you that kind of experience!

Read our article "How to Find the Best Canoe Outfitter"

Ely Minnesota location

Outfitting canoe trips into the Boundary Waters and Quetico Park since 1984 ... now Ely's premier outfitter

Our outfitting base is located six miles from the little town of Ely, Minnesota, on White Iron Lake (the majority of which is uninhabited). We are one of only a very few outfitters in our immediate area, our parties may begin their wilderness experience without the heavy canoe congestion found on a few of the entry lakes. The smaller, narrow lakes leading from our dock insure a safe, easy paddle, even on the most windy days. Direct canoe access to three BWCA entry points, lead to some of the more remote lakes in our area. However, should you desire to go into Canada, or start your travel through the area from one of the other U.S.-side entry points, we will be happy to transport you and all of your equipment ... whether that be by van and trailer ... tow boat ... or float plane.

Fly-in canoe outfitting

North Country Canoe Outfitters Lakeside Base and Services

The Boundary Waters and Quetico Park are "friendly" wilderness areas, yet sometimes pose  obstacles to the uninformed and novice visitor. We serve you with the highest degree of professionalism, and good old fashion honesty/integrity. We provide invaluable assistance in securing the required permits (US or Canadian), transportation to & from outlying landings, route suggestions, and background information on the area you intend to travel (no one is more familiar with the canoe country than we are -- we live here and have traveled the many lakes and streams).

Light canoes, the right gear expressly designed for BWCA canoeing

Complete, Professional Outfitting

We offer professional outfitting and provide everything that is necessary for you to enjoy a wilderness canoe trip. We are professionally equipped to supply canoes and equipment designed expressly for this area. Much of today's "high tech" backpacking equipment is not suited to canoe country travel. On the other hand, canoe camping equipment tends to be single purpose gear: ideal for canoeing, but not well suited for other types of camping.  We also do partial outfitting for those having some of their own equipment. Our food packing/outfitting complies with all federal regulations as they apply to both Minnesota's Boundary Waters Canoe Area and Canada's Quetico Park.

And when you return from your trip you can leave behind your dirty gear that needs cleaning and requires storage space. All you need to bring is your personal clothing and your fishing tackle, along with your spirit of adventure. Many of the most well equipped Scout troops usually leave their own gear home and use the quality and convenience of North Country Canoe Outfitters.

Quetico approved outfitter

Industry Leader with Unique Outfitting Privileges

We were one of the first, and remain one of a few select outfitters in the Superior National Forest to be granted full outfitting operations under federal permit by the US Forest Service. We are one of two Minnesota outfitters who have been granted a provincial outfitting permit in Canada. These permits assure you of quality outfitting and full insurance coverage. NCCO is the industry leader, dealing with the newest equipment (including our "Expedition Grade" gear).

THE ONE SINGLE REASON, however, that our customers cite as to why they chose us, is individual service. We make every effort to match your trip expectations to areas and lakes that produce the best vacation for you. We pick an entry point and design your trip route around you; we don't fit you into an "off the shelf" trip that is convenient for us.

The Best Food

Certified Angus Beef brand steak

Menus should be reviewed under the same bright lights as equipment lists. "A fresh steak" may not be the same size or cut as "An 8oz USDA Certified Angus Beef T Steak." Increased quality and variety goes hand-in-glove with trip expenses.

Read each menu item as if it stands alone

It will at mealtime. Is one brand of food used exclusively? If so, this could imply cost cutting through quantity discounts. There is nothing wrong with cost control. It may, however, indicate a tendency to lean away from variety with the best-tasting individual items and towards a higher profit margin.

Certified Angus Beef Brand Steak

Check to see if items are repeated on the menu in order to make the menu appear longer.

One listing of peanut butter & jelly and a second for jelly and peanut butter are NOT two different selections. How many ways are you expected to fix your macaroni and cheese? Hot dogs are fine for a picnic lunch ... but they may not have the nourishment value when served as a main course after a long day on the canoe trails.

North Country uses only the highest quality foods, a variety of brand names, and a combination of freeze-dried and fresh foods.  We know you will see, feel -- and taste -- the difference a top quality menu can make.