BWCA vs. Quetico

I just learned that while Quetico has DOUBLE the acreage of the BWCA (2 million acres vs. 1 million), the park limits visitors to just 20,000 per year (and also has daily limits), while the BWCA admits up to 250,000 visitors per year.

Hard to believe either one could get crowded but near the entry points, they suggest avoiding August. (Sept. or later is best for avoiding people & insects).

Also, while the BWCA requires only a one-time entry permit (currently $10), Quetico is a relatively pricey $10 per day PER PERSON. Americans also need a Remote Area Border Crossing permit.

the real question for me would be which offers more motorless and quiet water.

Quetico camping fees
Your information on Quetico camping fees isn’t quite up to date. Camping fees have steadily gone up over the last five years or so. For 2005 the cost (Canadian $$) for non-residents is $18 per day per person for entry via Prairie Portage or Cache Bay. If a non-resident enters the Quetico via entry points on the Canadian side, the cost (Canadian $$) is $13 per day per person.

I’ve heard that the advisory groups that either set the tone or the actual fee structure for Ontario Parks, are running things like a business. If few folks express concerns or complaints, the price tag will continue to rise. Therefore if you think the daily camping fee is high enough, voice your concern to Ontario Parks when you enter.

Personnally I like the difference in management phylosophy and the resulting differences between the BWCA and the Quetico. They are different, but I enjoy paddling in either park.

The BWCA and Quetico are roughly the same acreage, but the shape is different. The BWCA is a long(East-West) narrow(N-S) area and the motorless area is broken up by several large lakes with motors allowed. I don’t think there is anywhere in the BWCA that I could not paddle to in a day from some entry point. Quetico is a blocky shape, E-W and N-S dimesions are roughly the same. It has a few motor lakes at the western edge for First Nation folks to use for guided trips. It has a large “interior” area that takes a couple of days for most folks to travel to. Couple that with the very low visitor population and you have a much better wilderness experience. On a solo trip in 2002 I went a day and a half without seeing a soul on a usually busy route. Later in the trip I had a two and a half day stretch without people. None of this trip was in the interior of the park. Its not a serious bush trip, but pretty nice.

I like the way Ontario manages this park and don’t mind paying more to use it. I wish the USFS would fine tune their permit system to ease the use on some areas of the BWCA.

Darryl and Seumas Summed it Up…
…pretty well. As for myself, I now pretty much stay on the BWCAW side. For one thing, I prefer the ease of entry and the ease of permits and fees. The “Better half” prefers the fact that the BWCAW sites have latrines (But we miss the “Ambience” of the old wooden ones, instead of the newer, fiberglass privies). You can usually find soltitude by taking a long or difficult portage or two, and/or dead-end lakes. I don’t mind seeing a few people, therefore; the BWCAW suits me fine. Of course, I live on a farm and sometimes go days without seeing anyone but the wife. Different strokes for different folks, but I prefer the U.S. side of the border. WW

Nice reply. I agree. My feelings and practices exactly. Well said.