Bucket List Location Help

Live in Arizona and getting up there in age and want to start checking off my bucket list. I’m looking for a place that is large with a lot of trees and is secluded. I’ve always loved camping in places that are misty and rainy and would be a big plus for me. Was looking at Boundary Water Canoe Area Wilderness, Minnesota? Is Alaska a good place to look? Any suggestions on a bucket list worth place?

The Adirondacks in upstate New York is a vast wilderness (bigger than Yosemite and Yellowstone combined). Particularly its northwest quadrant is very remote and heavily forested. Very misty and rainy in the Spring and early Fall most years.

Oregon and Washington states have many rain forest zones but unfortunately I have only done day hikes in those areas so I can’t offer personal reports for more remote areas. But I have spent time in the Payette National Forest in western Idaho and many areas in the Canadian Rockies, especially Banff Provincial Park.

Specific backcountry camping trips that I would recommend are the trail to Loon Lake in Payette – my Idaho friend John and I hiked up there and never saw another person over a 3 day trip but we did have a wild wolf cross the trail 20 feet ahead and stop to look at us as we were going in. There are remnants of a World War II military plane crash in the woods on the far side of the lake: the crew crashed in the winter and slid across the lake. All survived but it took them 2 weeks to hike out.

In Banff, the trail along 30 mile creek is pretty wild and scenic, with the chance to spot a grizzly bear, did a multi-day trip there as well though we did have a couple of horse packing groups come through. Very misty in late summer.

Also the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho. Leaving from Redfish Lake there are incredible trails up into the mountains with rushing streams, soaring red granite cliffs and beautiful lakes surrounded by thick evergreen forests. John, a former BLM forest ranger, would frequently do 2 week solo backpacking trips into the Sawtooth.

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Take a look at Whidbey Island. They have one of the best campgrounds I have ever been to. Beach, views, whale sightings.


Pacific Northwest has lots of options for trees and rainy/cloudy/misty from Oregon through Alaska. Do you kayak or canoe? More kayak options than canoe, but still some canoe options available.


This thread has lots of ideas to consider.

The Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area (BWCWA) is great for the wilderness experience and is nearly 100% forested (on the land part of course), but if you want true solitude, head to the interior of the Quetico Park directly across the Canadian border from the BWCWA. The sites are less used and more primitive. They let about a quarter of the number of travelers in every day as opposed to the BWCWA. We did a 14 day trip and saw no other humans for 10 days. Once you get about 2 days in, by canoe and portages, you will be less likely to see any other folks. Permits are a bit harder to get, but they are worth it. As a bonus, the smallmouth and walleye fishing are unparalleled. 5+ pound smallmouth are not at all unusual.

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If you are in a canoe and go to the northeast, check out the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. https://www.northernforestcanoetrail.org/
Old Forge (New York) to Fort Kent (Maine). 7400 miles of paddling on an interconnected trail and plenty of shady trees. As a so-called thru-paddler you’ll spent a lot of time alone in the more deserted sections.

I agree with HCCTREEMAN. I have done the boundary waters on two different occasions. One time I stayed on the US side of the border the other time portaged into Canada. Both sides were excellent for remote paddling, with Canada being more remote. Ely, Minnesota has a number of outfitters and outdoor shops that can provide you with gear so you don’t have to bring as much stuff if you do not want to.

I did a one-week trip with my dad in the BWCA several years ago. It was spectacular. The only other humans we saw were a trail maintenance crew who passed the opposite way on a portage. Said hi and they were gone.
Gunflint Lodge was our outfitter. They were great. At that time they had an amazing chef, so our meals before and after the trip were awesome.
If you go, take head nets. The black flies can get really thick in some places. :sunglasses:

BWCA black flies are less bothersome after mid July (or early July after a dry winter). Same applies to ADKs, Quebec, and inland Maine. They lay their eggs in running water so rivers and streams can be more infested than lakes.
Bottom line? Take a head net as @Kento advises. They take up almost no space, weigh next to nothing, and you’ll kick yourself from here to the hereafter if you need one and don’t have one.


Check out some rivers in Montana like the Smith and Beaverhead.
Northern Idaho. St joe.
How good of a paddler are you?
Many forest rivers are higher up and have some gradient.
Consider the lower parts of rivers in western Washington like the Skagit, Stillaguamish, and Cowlitz, and the Kalama.
Lower Rogue in Oregon, other coastal rivers.
Klamath River in CA.

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I have canoed both the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area and the Adirondack Canoe Wilderness Area. Both were bucket list worthy, but the BWCWA was definitely more remote, with far fewer people. I would do either again in a heartbeat.


Algonquin in Ontario. There are excellent equipment/gear rental places (I’ve used Algonquin Outfitters and can highly recommend them.) I’ve never been to the BWCA, but videos I’ve seen don’t look quite as “north” as Algonquin. As others have mentioned, beware the black fly season; it is ruinous.


I hAve paddled the BWCA. You have to like portaging and insects. You have to get a permit. Back in 1985 we drank right out of the lakes.


I would put Maine on your list, inland or coast depending on your skills. Great place to paddle and a very scenic state to visit. I wish I could recommend the Adirondacks but that area has become quite crowded compared to the rustic old days.

If you’re “getting up there in age” you may not want to do portages. You might prefer to avoid very large lakes that are prone to wind and waves. Things like that will condition your choices. Summer heat also—don’t underestimate the heat and humidity in the Northeast.

You didn’t say whether you would be driving or flying. A good fall road trip would be the Adirondacks, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine to combine paddling with hiking, visiting small towns, and seeing the foliage.

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