BWCA vs Quetico ?

Well, I have traveled all over the BWCA, but never entered the Quetico. I am very curious however. Those that frequent that park, what is the draw over the BWCA? Better fishing, scenery, what is it? I am thinking about my next trip and may want to go there. Any help is appreciated.


less population pressure
no signs for portages or campsites. Need to use more wilderness skills. Portages are not as maintained. There are no thunderboxes.

I havent been back to BWCA since 1989, choosing Quetico instead for six or seven trips.

Downside is that it is more expensive. Access is more difficult.

Now that I heard that BWCA has a list of regs as long as tp roll (including dont lunch on the portage) I would only go there in bug season. I hate competition to race for the next campsite.

Big Lakes
In the Quetico we had a float plane land near us and put put over to ask what lake we were on - they were lost - never had that happen to me in the BW.

Further North
Look a little further north and you’ll probably spend less money, including gas and get a more remote experience. Think about Wabakimi or the northern parts of Lake Nipigon.

Some Pro’s of the Quetico
- You can travel every day if you want and know that you will find an empty campsite in the vicinity you want to be at the end of the day.

  • You won’t have to win a horse race at the end of each day to get the last available site on a lake.
  • The portages are well maintained and you can route on smaller lakes if you wish. You can carry out your trip plans without major delays and exit on time.
  • The park is a big square giving you a lot less “one day from the entry point” edge area than the BWCA has where a lot of base campers congregate. There is more park interior and more opportunity to realize solitude than in the BWCA.
  • Their are many more good lake trout fishing lakes than in the BWCA
  • In general fish populations are not as heavily fished in the Quetico and therefore there is better potential for catching. I always plan for fish on my Quetico trip menu and have never been disappointed.
  • This is the best flatwater lake to lake canoeing available in the middle of North America in a mixed hardwood, coniferous forest. Sure you can go further north and experience fewer canoeists, but you don’t have the beauty of Quetico’s mixed forest with the majesty of mature pines. In the Woodland Caribou or Wabikimi setting you have solid monocultures of Jack Pine or Black Spruce and no landmark big pine. Although these more northern Ontario canoeing parks are very nice, in my opinion their forests are not as beautiful as in the Quetico.

Wabakimi is as expensive as Quetico
same rate structure for non residents.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Wabakimi was set aside as a refuge for the woodland caribou.

These elusive creatures are still hard to find…have a rear end shot of one but never met one face to face.

BWCA = FREE to anyone except entry fee of about 30 bucks.

Quetico…if you are NOT a US citizen…is about 12-15 bucks a night to camp…that can add up bigtime.

yes but its worth it
and there is tons of Crown Land in the areas adjacent to Canadian Parks.

Free to US citizens if you rent accommodations from a Canadian outfitter.

And in Quetico, I don’t have to pay
to register my canoe. Of course, back in '73 when we did 12 nights in Quetico leaving and returning to Ely, Minnesota had not yet gotten stupid about tourism versus predatory licensing of out-of-staters. I’ve been through Minnesota several times since then, but the canoe has stayed on the car.