Quetico questions.

I’m planning on going to Quetico next year. I was planning on going in the Fall after school starts. Now I’m thinking since I’m going to do the Green River in Utah in Spring it might make more sense to continue east and do Quetico in May after the Green. Also, I’m worried about gas prices shooting up towards the end of summer. How are the bugs and weather in May? How much lead time do I need to get a reservation? How much will it cost?

May 15… no bugs.

June 1st…Bzzzzzzz, SLAP!..Bzzzzzz, SLAP!..Bzzzzzzz!

reserverations up to 5 months ahead
You can reserve an entry point and date up to five months in advance. IF you enter before the park officially opens for the season (roughly mid-May), you don’t need a reservation, just check in at self-serve ranger stations (bring cash to pay your fees). If you are going to enter on a Sat of Sun, I’d recommend getting the reservation, especially if it is around Memorial Day, but be aware that there are expensive penalties for cancelling a reservation, from 10 to 50% of the $100 advance fee - you have to send in a $100Can in advance , at the time you make the reservation, plus a $12can fee for the paperwork. The $100 is a deposit for your camping fees, and you get that credited when you pick up your paperwork and pay your fees. Camping fees vary, depending on whether you use a Northern or Southern entry point - basically, if you are entering Quetico via the US BWCA, the Quetico camping fees are $18 per person per night (kids are a bit less); if you enter start in Canada, the camping fees are $13 per person per night. There are entry quotas for each entry point, to dispurse the traffic. Helps to be flexible on where you want to enter.

I recommend you get Beymer’s guidebook to Quetico - it covers most of the info you need, though some of the fee info will be out of date.

Bugs and weather can vary a lot,and aren’t easy to predict. I normally do trips the first week of June, or starting at the end of May, and Black Flies are not that big a deal then, usually - they are just starting to get bad. Mosquitos are/can be a bigger problem. Temps can range from below freezing at night to mid-seventies or even eighties at mid-day, but plan for cool and wet.

How early in May is it reasonable
to go and avoid snow? I was thinking of a Canadian put-in but since early May is before the season, I guess a BWCA trip would be cheaper. Thinking of staying out for a week or so. What’s the difference between Quetico and BWCA?

I wouldn’t worry about snow …
worry about ice out. It doesn’t happen often, but there have been times when ice out hasn’t happened until after fishing opener - about May 15th. Still, for the BWCA, ice out is generally the end of April. For the Q it is about the same perhaps up to a week later.

A BWCA is definately cheaper - $10/person for the entire stay.

I agree that you won’t have to worry about accumulating snow by mid May. However, spring in the BW or Q is a period of changable weather, so you will need to be prepared for most anything from sunny and 80F to cold rain and 40’s, sometimes even snow flurries. Also with passing weather systems strong winds can be a problem for traveling at this time of year - especially on large east / west lakes. Keep in mind you will be traveling on cold water and be safe in your travel. Also keep in mind portages in the spring are wetter, with more mud, downfall trees, etc., so it may be a good idea to plan for a slightly slower daily pace.

Good point about the colder water
in the Spring. I tend to go to Canada in Sept. so also expect changeable weather but the water is warmer and the bugs not bad. I guess I’ll go in September and hope the gas prices don’t go up too much. Is Quetico worth the $18 x 2 a day vice lets say Cariboo Woodlands Provincial Park that is a little further north? I’m driving from the west coast so a few miles one way or another isn’t worth a consideration.

Worth it
It’s my understanding the daily backcountry camping fees are the same for Woodland Caribou Park and the Quetico Park for the entry points on the Canadian side. Fees for the American side entry points to the Quetico are higher to help cover the cost of maintaining remote access ranger stations by the Canadians. So if you choose to enter the Quetico from a Canadian entry point, fee cost should be a wash compared to Woodland Caribou. For someone coming from the West coast, I would recommend planning your trip out of the Beaverhouse / Quetico Lake entry point and doing your outfitting out of Atikokan, Ontario if you need outfitting; more daily permits issued so better chance of getting one, lower camping fees, and you don’t need a remote border crossing permit for customs purposes on Canadian side entry. Quetico is coming up on a 100 year anniversary as a canoe park in 2009 as well as centuries of canoe travel before that so traditional campsites and portages are well established and you have access to almost every lake in the park. Woodland Caribou is a relatively new canoe park and there are well traveled routes and it can be a bushwack adventure getting anywhere else. They are opening more portages / routes every year. But if you go there you need to consult with the park ranger to help with your trip planning.


Jennifer and I have been talking about going to Quetico together this year. (My 19th trip, her 1st) We’re looking at a September time frame also. Maybe we could hook up again.

I’ll probably also be going up in late August with my normal fishing buddies.