People often ask me where my favorite BWCA or Quetico campsite is. They tell me to point out the best campsite on each lake. The challenge with this is everyone has a different picture in their mind of what the best wilderness campsite looks like. Some folks see a rock studded island in the middle of the Boundary Waters while others see a sandy beach in the Quetico Park. One group wants a steep drop off at their site for fishing and another would rather be in a weedy bay with a chance to see a moose in the morning. One person wants to camp among towering red pines while the next person prefers cedar trees lining the shore.
I'm not going to tell you what the best campsite is any sooner than I would tell you what the best pizza is without knowing if you like thin or thick crust, lots of red sauce or just a little white sauce, anchovies or pepperoni. I can however tell you I don't actually have a favorite campsite. Every campsite I have stayed at holds a special wilderness experience and that tilts the scales far more than the flattest spot I've found to pitch my tent.
Every canoe country campsite I have stayed at is special in its own way. Every canoe trip I have taken has its own reason for being memorable. I just can’t recall a campsite without attaching my memories and feelings of that particular point in time.
I used to say my favorite campsite was Blackstone Lake in the Quetico Park. I remember the trip very vividly as I was pregnant with my first child, the year was 1999. It was the hottest summer ever on the Gunflint Trail, as any pregnant woman would say, and I was completely miserable. We paddled and portaged the lakes of the Quetico until we reached Blackstone where I hung my hammock and hardly ever left it. I floated in the cool water of the wilderness lake and enjoyed the feeling of weightlessness as I swam beneath the blue sky.
Then I found a wonderful campsite in the Boundary Waters on Seagull Lake. It is tucked away in a cove and has a nice sandy beach. I remember hiking around to an overlook where I could see Abby and Josh as toddlers playing in the waves and running along the beach. I remember the sound of their laughter as they danced around the campsite.
But the next year we camped in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and found a site that was really nice too. We had incredible fishing right from the site and I'll never forget the look of pride on Josh's face as he reeled in fish after fish. Or the blue stain on Abby's teeth as she sat in a patch of blueberries eating one after another.
Then there was the time Josh and I camped in Red Rock Bay in the Boundary Waters that was a nice site too. Or the place the kids and I had a picnic lunch on Seagull and the list goes on and on. It's really not about the features of the lake or the campsite.
It's all about the memories of the wonderful experiences that happened at the wilderness campsite. That's what makes a campsite a favorite campsite. Whether it's in the Boundary Waters or in the Quetico Park it doesn't really matter. You'll find your own favorite Boundary Waters or Quetico Park campsite all on your own.