Deciding where to canoe in the Boundary Waters is always a tough decision whether it's your first trip, tenth trip or fiftieth trip. Just like when you're planning a regular vacation you'll want to gather information for a BWCA canoe country vacation. There is a plethora of information on the web including great commercial BWCA websites and outfitter websites. There are also books published about popular BWCA canoe routes but keep in mind the information in books may not always be precise or up to date.
To determine where you want to go in the BWCA you’ll need to know if fishing is an important part of your trip. If fishing is important then you'll want to know what Boundary Waters lakes have which types of fish in them. If you're going to paddle the BWCA in early May then find a lake trout lake because that's what will be biting then. You'll also want to spend less time traveling and more time fishing if it's really important to catch fish. Don’t plan to camp a 12 hour paddle from where you're BWCA starting point is or you’ll spend all of your time paddling and not fishing.
Most folks want solitude on their Boundary Waters Canoe trip. If your goal is solitude then choose a BWCA route with lots of long portages. Look for lakes that are difficult to get to and farther in than a few hour paddle and find a BWCA campsite that is off of the beaten path. This will keep you away from the vast majority of folks. Don't be fooled by thinking an canoe entry point with lots of travel permits is necessarily bad. There are smaller lakes off of some of these bigger lakes that you can find and have all to yourself.
Another factor in determining where you will go in the Boundary Waters is who you are going with. If you’re paddling with elderly or small children then you may want to plan a base camp canoe trip. Find a BWCA lake with good day trip opportunities so people have the option to paddle and portage or stay back and relax.
There are lots of things to consider when planning a Boundary Waters canoe trip. You can find a trip route finder on our website that might offer you some insight. Also, we have maps we can mail you if you’d like to purchase one. Then you can spend time looking at all of the BWCA lakes and dreaming about camping on them.
No matter how many times I've been on Boundary Waters canoe trips it's still a tough decision to decide where to go. Who I'm paddling with, how much time I have and how energetic I'm feeling all make a difference in what route I'll choose. No matter where I go in the BWCA I know I’ll be happier there than anywhere else I could be and that’s a very good thing.