How crowded is Quetico in August and Sep

Is August significantly more crowded?

Note that, to me,… crowded means seeing anyone at all out there.

Thoughts on crowds? Thanks in advance!


– Last Updated: Nov-16-06 7:44 AM EST –

To me, Quetico is certainly not crowded when compared to the BWCA or other popular canoeing destinations. But with your definition of crowded, you're likely to be disappointed with Quetico. You are going to see other parties within 30 miles of any entry point - maybe 4 to 6 groups a day. Once you are in the interior of the park, your encounter rate goes down to about 1 group a day. Pick an off the beaten path route and you likely will see no one for days. My experience is in August there usually are a few permits available, so maybe the park has a fewer folks there then and they will be concentrated within 2 days travel of an entry point. It can be a little hot for serious travel in August. In cooler September, more serious travelers are putting in a last trip of the season, but still plenty of permits available after Labor Day weekend. By late September the visitor load is noticeably down. If seeing anyone spoils your day, head up to Woodland Caribou. There were only 700 visitors there this past season.

Late September
I went to Quetico for six days several years ago in late September. I saw a number of people the first and last day, one lone person on each of the 2nd and 5th day, nobody else on the two middle days of the trip.

Like a lot of things, though, it depends–the further you’re willing to portage, the less likely you’ll see people.

The more I study Quetico & BWCA
the smaller it seems to me. I guess you summed it up… “w/in 30 miles…”

I’ve seen your posts here. You seem very informed. Thanks for all of your help.

As you’ve had more experience than me w/ BWCA & Quetico, tell me… what kind of feedback have you heard from people who fly in via float plane? We are contemplating this. I think that would help us with the 30 mile thing. Have people felt it was worth it, based on what you read & hear?

Thanks, Duluth!

I’m thinking about that. The portage effect vs. people. We haven’t set the route up yet, but I’m wondering about a tough portage or 2 to get away from people, and weighing that against the possibility of just flying in & being dropped in the interior.

I haven’t done a fly in trip into Quetico. My major trips into the park are 9 to 12 days, which is plenty of time to loop a long way into the interior or go completely across the park in any direction. I view fly in service as a way to squeeze a trip into half the paddle time. If you only have seven days, you can fly out for a week’s worth of paddling milage, paddle for 7 days and see a lot of territory none of it twice, and still get back on schedule. Both the BWCA and Quetico have regulations that limit plane travel in the parks. Therefore available fly in service is to the perimeter of Quetico usually to Lac La Croix (an entry point), Beaverhouse (an entry point), Clay Lake just outside the NE corner of Quetico, and I believe some outfitters will fly you into Bitchu Lake just above Saganagons on southeast boundary. The exception is the La Croix first nations are allowed to fly clients directly in to a few select lakes in the Quetico. So if you don’t have a week and a half or more to paddle Quetico, fly in is an option. Both Clay Lake (about 8 day paddle) and Bitchu Lake (about 5 day paddle) back to Prarie Portage would be options that can lead you through some less traveled areas for your desired solitude.

But I suggest that both Woodland Caribou and Wabikimi Parks are much better fly in canoe trip destinations. Float plane terminals nearby either park entrance will fly you into the interior of either park and leave you off and even pick you up at any lake you choose. In September I was in Woodland Caribou on a fly in paddle out trip of 7 days that would have taken me 2 weeks to paddle in and get out otherwise. Pictures if you are interested are at:

BWCA and Quetico are crowded (certainly

by your definition.) You need to be more creative

than BWCA/Quetico even Wabikimi/WC (which

have more air traffic because of fly-in lodges but less people). To have a trip without people costs either a fair bit of money, or a fair bit of time. Part of the adventure is figuring it out.

Quetico options
I agree with the others, you’re not likely to be happy with the Q given the number of people there. Regardless of the month, you should plan to see other paddlers just about anywhere in the Q. Flying into the Park doesn’t help much, because the planes can only land on designated sites around the outside of the Park. Your best bet at getting solitude in the Q, per your definition, is doing some serious bushwhacking into lakes that do not have portages into them.

I think you should look into a trip up to Wabakimi. If you fly in, and plan your route to avoid lakes with lodges / outpost camps on them, then you probably won’t see anyone the entire trip. I did 8 days in Wabakimi last May, and we never saw another canoe group. Although we did see one motor boat on the lake we flew into, which we knew had an outpost camp.

Good luck with your trip!