BWCAW Outfitter needed...


After much reading, and then somemore reading. Chatting with the folks here on the message board, etc. I believe that the Western region BWCA weather in late May is my best choice.

Is their anyone who can help me thin the herd of Outfitters in the Ely area! They all sound good on paper, offer similar packages. I am sure some are better than others. Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks Wolf

Friends son worked for Canadian Border Outfitters, and nothing but good to say about them. I’ve bought gear from Red Rock and Piragis, but never outfitted with them. But if it were me, I’d check out Voyageur North. They participate here on the board, which impresses me, and seem like nice, knowledgable people. That said, Ive always preferred the Gunflint Trail area. WW

Thanks WW

Thanks again for your help. Appreciate the book offer, Turns out that I do not have the Eastern region by Beymer, just the Western. Would go nicely with my growing collection of BWCAW books. Let me know what you are asking for it?

As I mentioned earlier, I believe that I will look at the Ely area with hopes of a bit warmer weather in late May. I have already sent to Voyegeur North’s info and have been pouring over it for the past week. They seem to be very professional and experienced. I appreciated your input. I have been big game guide(parttime)for the past 11 years. Like any other bussiness I guess their are crooked ones evrywhere. I have been fortune to work for a very reputable outfitter, but hear horror stories from clients all of the time. Figured the safest bet was to ask people like yourself that know. Hard to tell much from an advertisement.

Well I had better end this book! Thanks again, hope to hear back from you. Let me know if you have a suggested route in the Wetern region. I know you prefer the Eastern…

Rented canoes only
I have 2 WT canoes and enough gear to outfit myself, so I’m not much help on outfitters. However it’s common for me to have 6 people in my group on a 9 day trip, and we end up renting a canoe in Ely. In the last 5 years we’ve rented various Souris Rivers from Red Rock Lodge and Minnesota II’s from Piragis without any hassels from either place. Red Rock throws in a much appreciated shower at the end of the trip with a canoe rental.

I think I recall from your previous post that you will be flying into Ely. If so, transportation of your party, canoes, and gear from Ely to the canoe landing and back will be an important feature for you. When you’re shopping for an outfitter, be sure to ask about that because I’m not sure all outfitters provide door to door service. Red Rock is about 12 miles east of Ely, so if you don’t have transportation, this outfitter may not work for you. If your trip includes the Moose Lake chain, some outfitter’s offer power boat shuttle service (at extra cost) for the first 5 to 6 miles to speed your trip to Prairie Portage, Birch, or Ensign. I don’t use the shuttle service, but many folks do - their choice.

I recommend Voyaguer North as well. Great people. Great service. On-site bait shop. Bunkhouses for before/after the trip.

However, I have to say, I don’t know of any “crooked” outfitters up there. Competition is so heavy that any outfitter that does not have exemplary service does not last long.

Last time I went to BWCA, I used Canadian Waters outfitters in Ely. They did a great job setting us up with gear,food,etc. This was ten years ago however. I have checked out others in the area and many seem to have lower prices, but I can’t say enough about how great Canadian Waters was to work with. It is owned by two brothers whose last name is Waters, I think that sealed the deal for me! Good luck and happy paddling.

Im back…
Thanks guys, that helps. Does anyone know about River Point outfitters? They are 8.5 miles from Ely,on Birch lake. Liked the fact that they were on the water, for the first night that sounded better than being in town. Price’s were good aswell.

DM I will be flying into Duluth or St. Paul, not sure which. Still trying to figure out which is best. Cheaper to fly in St Paul, shorter drive in rental car from Duluth. Not bringing my outfit on this trip, so we will be doing a complete package with an outfitter! I only hope my canoe at home does’nt find out that I cheated on her! We have been through alot together…haha

I echo the good word for Voyageurs North. We have used them the last two years. Our trip this included a couple who have also been in the BWCAW before, and they also were pleased with the outfitter.

Voyageurs North
Used them the last two years in a row and got nothing but excellent advice and service.

You may have selected an outfitter by now. but if you haven’t, I would recommend Canadian Border Outfitters. I have used them on three trips with our Boy Scout troop, most recently as June 2004. They have on site lodging available for before and after the trip as well as meals. They have served us well in past and I will use them again.

I’ve outfitted with Piragis and VNO. Piragis is fine if you want to go upscale, but my money is on Voyageur North. Really fine, down to earth folks who aren’t out to skin you. They also have great fishing advice. I’m goin’ up w/o July 4 for 11 days on the water. It’s about the only thing that gets me through the winter!

Good luck and have a great time!


Hello Wolf,

I used River Point Outfitters two years ago, very friendly staff, very helpful all around!!


Go Voyager Norht
These guys are awesome. They will help you plan your route and even tell you where some good fishing spots are. They seem to have competitive prices as well.

Plus they have an ice cold beer waiting for you when you get back!

The best outfitter I’ve found and done business with over the past 10 yrs is undoubtedly “Canoe Country Outfitters”. Their service and friendly attitude is unmatched! They also provide a wide variety of services, such as tows, bunkhouse, showers, etc.

The last trip through them we didnt even have to load the canoe, they delivered it to the landing for us!! Excellent crew. I’ve sent upwards of 8-10 groups through Canoe Country, and every one of them has come back thoroughly pleased with the service received.


ditto on "Canoe Country Outfitters"
Our family has been using them since late '60s (called Bill Rom’s Canoe Country Outfitters then). I need very little outfitting help now, but when I do, they are there for me (special tow services, hurry-up food packs, any extra equipment, and always excellent and up to date route, fishing, portage, and bear advice). They are one of Ely’s original main street outfitters-good people.

A number of years back they helped me organize a “family reunion” trip which required two permits, 6 canoes, 18 packs, 6 tents, two food packs, two cook sets (by regulations we had to have two campsites and never have more than 9 at a campsite). They launched a special tow boat on Burntside to bring all 18 of us and our gear from our Cabin in Ely to the Burtside lake, across Burntside to the Crab Lake Portage, and picked us up four days later and dropped us back off. Extraordinary service.

CBO gets my vote
I’ve been to BWCAW/Quetico numerous times in the last 10 years. I’ve used Canadian Border Outfitters exclusively for the last 6 years. They are informative, experienced and reasonable. They have great facilities for before and after your trip. Plenty of parking, comfortable motel style rooms or bunkhouse, the cookshack that serves great food and clean bathroom/showerhouse. They have excellent quality rental equipment for a fully outfitted trip or just for individual items you don’t own yet. They’re very knowledgeable about the lakes, the portages, great campsites and great fishing. Enjoy!

Fully outfitted with VNO once, “top of the line” package. Not top of the line equipment. Poor routing, tent leaked, stove leaked, no leaches, two strips of bacon for two people; ever tried making pancakes with no cooking utensiles? Never again.

Partial outfitted with Piragis good advice, top line equipment.

If you want to head up to Gunflint, check out Hungry Jack Outfitter. The best of everything.