My friends and I have been to BWCA before through church retreats and we were interested in going up just by ourselves. Any recommendations as to which outfitter we should go through or any routes that are fun for somewhat beginners?
More detail needed
You haven’t sketched out much detail of where you would prefer to enter the BWCA, how far you want this trip to be, how many days, etc. And maybe you just don’t have a feel for these things yet. So I don’t feel I can offer much for suggestions.
But I will say this: It takes experience, discipline, and early starts for a group to become really efficient at daily pack-up-your-camp-and-move back country travel. For a newbie group, I don’t think you should plan on more than 10 miles travel per day for a first trip. I also think a newbie group should consider base camping for 2-3 days within that trip. Have fun.
First decide where
First make the broad decission of which city you want to go out of. Broadly that would be either Grand Marais or Ely.
A given oufitters in Ely generally covers more entry points than a given outfitter in Grand Marais. In Grand Marais they tend to specialize in a few entry points close to their business.
Once you dedide on an outfitter call them and have a talk. They want you to have a great trip. They’ll ask you questions and suggest a route that’s right for you.
There are many great outfitters. I don’t know of any that will be a disappointment. However, if pressed, personally I would recommend Voyageur North Outfitters in Ely http://www.vnorth.com/ oe Rockwood Outfitters in Grand Marais http://www.rockwoodbwca.com/
I can heartily recommend Sawbill Outfitters.
I recommend you read first
Its one thing to rent equipment from an outfitter but its another to use an outfitters plan. Yes they know what routes are the most suitable and you should pick their brains. BUT…
I would pick up a book such as Daniel Paulys book: Exploring the Boundary Waters: A Trip Planner and Guide to the BWCAW. Its more exciting to plan something yourself rather than have it handed to you. Once you sort out some possibilities than I would ask an outfitter for feedback on its pracicality for you.
That way you start learning something about trip planning.
Try going to the bwca.com website. They have a trip planning forum. Ask your questions on the forum and people will help give you great suggestions. You can use an outfitter to outfit your trip but try planning the trip by yourself. I like to base camp so how I plan my trip is different than someone who wants to move every day. Planning your own trip is more rewarding than having an outfitter plan the trip.