USA

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Trip: 3-6 Days

Canoe Remote Wilderness & Thousands of Pristine Lakes in Northern Minnesota

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Trip: 3-6 Days

Canoe Remote Wilderness & Thousands of Pristine Lakes in Northern Minnesota

Canoe one of the largest wilderness areas in the USA, on this multi day canoe trip in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA). This legendary experience is a bucket-list item for nearly every adventure seeker. We arrange and customize private and group trips ranging from 3-6 days, fully guided and supported with our camping gear and lightweight portage canoes. This Northern Minnesota wilderness area is home to over a thousand lakes, millions of acres of remote wilderness, a plethora of wildlife, excellent fishing, waterfalls, rivers and more.

Let us unlock the mysteries of the Boundary Waters and take the hassle and worry out of day-to-day decisions. Expect the best, most knowledgeable and friendliest guides in the business. Our guides are licensed through the US Forest Service and committed to your successful adventure. They're a wealth of information, and their advice will help you get the most from your wilderness experience.

Our professionally guided camping trips are completely outfitted with the best ultralight canoes and top-notch camping equipment. We even provide your comfy, freshly-laundered sleeping bag.  All you need to bring are your clothes and be ready for fun! Your guide prepares mouthwatering meals, and is focused on you having an amazing BWCAW canoe camping experience.

With over a million acres, a thousand lakes, and 1,200 miles of canoe routes, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area is full of options.

Pricing: (Fully Outfitted & Guided)

3 Days: $815usd per person

4 Days: $1,075usd

5 Days: $1,350usd

6 Days: $1,625usd

Guided Departures: Trips can depart on any date between May 1 - Sept 30th.

*Permits become available on a first-come, first-served basis starting on January 29. The longer you wait to have us reserve your permit the more flexibility you may need to have for your preferred entry point or entry date.

*Self guided options available on request

Trip ITINERARY

Day 1: Arrive to Ely, Minnesota (Sample Itinerary)

Arrive to Ely, Minnesota check into your hotel and meet your guide for a trip briefing.

Getting to Ely:

Driving: Guests living in the Midwest typically choose to drive. Ely is served by good paved highway systems. Allow 4 hours drive time from Minneapolis and 10 hours from Chicago or Kansas City. Your car may remain at our outfitter shop or the entry point while on trail.

Flying: Guests traveling by plane typically fly into Duluth (DLH - 2 hours driving from Ely) or the Minneapolis-St. Paul Intl. Airport (MSP - 4 hours driving from Ely). Flight prices typically are much lower for MSP. Ely does not have commercial flights, although private planes may fly into the Ely Municipal Airport (ELO - 4 miles from Ely).

Rental Cars: Most of our guests arriving by air find it most cost-effective and convenient to rent a car at the airport. The rental car may remain at our shop or the entry point while on trail. We commonly tie canoes to the roof of rental cars.

Taxi: Ground shuttle service to Ely is available from airports in Duluth and Minneapolis-St. Paul. Ely Shuttle Service (218-349-1383) is available for a round trip flat rate for up to 3 passengers from Duluth ($450); 4 to 5 passengers from Duluth ($575); 6 to 13 passengers from Duluth ($997); and up to 13 passengers from Minneapolis-St. Paul ($1,900).

Bus: Ely does not have commercial bus service.

RV: Off-site camper and RV storage/parking while your group is on trail may be available for a fee and with advance notice.

Day 2-6: Wilderness Canoeing Days

Moose River North to Mudro Lake via Friday Bay - 5 Days

Typical Trip Length: 5 - 6 days: This is our most popular route and is typically done in 5-6 days. In 5 days this is a very active trip, and can be challenging for some. Six days for this route accommodates the possibility of a weather delay, and might allow you to spend two nights at the same campsite at least once. A five day trip may not provide adequate time to visit the Native American pictographs at the far north end of this route.

Total Approx. Miles:  44

Note: An average BWCA travel day is about 6 or 7 miles.  A long travel day is about 10 miles.

Total Rods Portaged One-Way:  1,494 rods (4.7 miles)

Note: Triple the one-way portage distance if you need to take two trips across the portages, which is typical.

# of Portages:  20

Longest Portage Length:  327 rods (approx. 1 mile)

Rating:  Moderate/Difficult

Entry Point:  16 – Moose River North

Exit Point:  23 – Mudro Lake

This route can be reversed.  However, because prevailing winds blow from the west toward the east, one is more likely to enjoy more tailwinds when exiting at Mudro Lake.

Significant Waterbodies on the Route: Nina Moose, Agnes, Lac La Croix, Iron, Crooked, Gun, Boot, Fourtown, Mudro.

Highlights:

  • Variety of island-studded small, medium and large lakes with rugged granite shorelines, as well as small and medium size river travel.
  • Superb walleye, pike, and smallmouth bass fishing.
  • Curtain Falls - one of the largest and most spectacular waterfalls in the region.
  • One of the largest and most vivid displays of Native American pictographs (rock paintings) in the region, on Lac La Croix near the northernmost tip of this route.
  • The opportunity to portage on Canadian soil, aye.  No special Canadian permits or licenses are required for this BWCA trip.  
  • Opportunity to extend the route (beyond the basic route shown on the interactive map) to include another significant pictograph display, Lower Basswood Falls, Horse River, and Horse Lake.  
  • Opportunity to shorten this route by about 4 miles by opting not to visit the pictographs on Lac la Croix at the northernmost section of this route.
  • Excellent remote territory on Crooked Lake. Consider budgeting extra time to base camp and explore Crooked Lake.
  • This is a guide-favorite route and an awesome Boundary Waters canoe tripping wilderness experience.  

Day 6: Depature Day

On the last day we typically arrive back to Ely in the afternoon. From here we can book you a night of accommodation or you can proceed with your flight or drive home.

Other Considerations:

Other Considerations

  • Because this route includes travel on larger bodies of water, it is more appropriate for groups with greater padding skills.
  • No motorboats are allowed on any part of this route in the BWCA. However, Canada allows motorboats on the Canadian side of Lac La Croix.  
  • This route includes some particularly long and rugged portages.  We call the three portages between Fourtown Lake and Mudro Lake the “Billy Goat Portages” because they are particularly rocky and steep. The route also starts with a half-mile portage, and includes a mile-long portage.

Additional Trip Info

Fully Outfitted and Guided Custom Boundary Waters Canoe Trips:

  • These rates include your licensed guide
  • Ultralight canoes
  • Specialized camping equipment
  • Trail food outfitting (All Meals)
  • BWCAW or Quetico Provincial Park entry permit fees
  • Flights
  • Gratuities
  • Travel Insurance - We recommend  World Nomads, or Global Rescue
  • Car Rental

Have Questions?

Interested in building a custom trip? We want to help you travel to places you have dreamt about.

Build a Custom Trip