The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) is renowned for its abundant wildlife, clear cool waters, and vibrant forests. Join our seven-day Boundary Waters trip to explore deep into the rustic backcountry of this northern gem. Paddle in our lightweight canoes on pristine lakes and rivers. Travel flora-filled portage trails. Enjoy wonderful meals prepared by our professional guides. Stretch out beneath the stars listening to loon calls as waves lap the shore. In a park of one million acres with over 60 starting points, each route offers unique sights and adventures!
Wilderness Inquiry is one of the only organizations that provides two professional guides on its Boundary Waters trips. Our lightweight Wenonah canoes make paddling and portaging easier than ever.
Sample ItineraryExpand All Fields
Day 1: Paddle to an island campsite on the western side of Saganaga Lake
Your trip will begin in the afternoon at one of the three BWCAW ranger stations. The trailer will be unloaded here and your gear packed into large dry bags. The first day’s paddle will be to an island campsite on the western side of Saganaga. Prepare dinner and enjoy an evening around the fire as you discuss trip expectations with your group.
Day 2: Navigate through Saganaga's many islands before setting up camp at American Point
Rise early for breakfast. Break camp and paddle east, navigating through Saganaga’s many islands. Enjoy lunch on Munker Island with a refreshing swim. Make camp on American Point, a short distance from Canadian soil. Enjoy a fire and camaraderie as the sun sets.
Day 3: Take a day trip to the Canadian border before returning to American Point
Wake up to a strong cup of coffee and a hearty breakfast. Today you will take a day trip to the Canadian border. Enjoy lunch on a large outcropping of the Canadian Shield. Take pictures next to large obelisks marking the border on Monument Portage. Return to American Point for another beautiful sunset.
Day 4: Make several portages to Red Rock and Alpine Lakes
After breakfast, break camp and load your boats for the paddle through Red Rock Bay towards the trip’s first portage. Enjoy the native foliage on the short 10-rod portage. Continue paddling south through Red Rock Lake. Challenge yourself to one more portage, this time 50 rods, before finding a beautiful campsite on Alpine Lake.
Day 5: Spend the day fishing, swimming, or exploring the shoreline on this layover day
Take a slow morning as you settle in for a much-deserved layover day. Spend your time exploring the shoreline, fishing, or bird watching. Prepare a delicious lunch and learn about the Ham Lake fire of 2007.
Day 6: Make the final portage of your trip to Seagull Lake
Rise early and set out for your final portage of the trip. After following an easy portage to Seagull Lake, you will see the effects of the Ham Lake fire along the shoreline. Set up camp early and have time to enjoy your final afternoon.
Day 7: Paddle across Seagull Lake and say farewell to your trip mates
Paddle across Seagull Lake to the access point. Help pack up the van and trailer for the ride home. Those who use Wilderness Inquiry's van transportation can expect to return to Minneapolis by that evening.
Dates & Fees
What to Expect
TERRAIN/ROUTE CHOICES: The BWCAW lies on the Canadian Shield, and is characterized by exposed granite with a thin layer of topsoil. The lakes and trails make this wilderness area one of the most accessible in the country. The BWCAW offers a wide range of route options from very easy to very difficult. Wilderness Inquiry runs trips all over the wilderness area, on all kinds of routes. Your Wilderness Inquiry staff will determine the route you will take, based on wilderness conditions and your group’s interests. No previous experience is needed to complete this trip.Read more »
Frequently Asked Questions:
Where do we meet?
Standard Meeting Places and Times
Start: Gunflint Ranger Station at 1:30 PM (local time)
End: Gunflint Ranger Station at 11:00 AM (local time)
This trip begins at 1:30 PM at one of three meeting places: Ely, Grand Marais, or Tofte. Each trip ends at the starting location at 11:00 AM on the last day. WI uses many different routes for Boundary Waters trips, so if you plan to meet your group at the entry point be sure to check with your trip leader about the specific starting point for your trip. Some meeting locations include a parking fee. You can take your own transportation or use WI’s van transportation from Minneapolis. To use our transportation you will meet in Minneapolis at Wilderness Inquiry Headquarters at 6:30 AM on the first day of the trip. The van returns to Wilderness Inquiry Headquarters at 6:00 PM on the last day of the trip. Detailed meeting place instructions will be sent to you when you are confirmed for the trip. Booking a flight? We recommend flying in to Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport the night before the trip, and flying out of Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport after 8:30 PM.
Do I need paddling experience to join a canoe or kayak trip?
Paddling trips with WI are appropriate for beginners and seasoned paddlers alike. On the first day of all trips, basic paddling strokes will be taught by the trip leader. Each trip gives participants multiple opportunities to practice their skills. Participants with more experience will have plenty of opportunity to paddle during the trip, and even to help teach less experienced paddlers!
What is the maximum group size in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness?
A group of nine people is the largest that can travel together within the Boundary Waters. This is a strict regulation that all Boundary Waters visitors must follow. Wilderness Inquiry provides professional guides on each trip experience that count toward this total.
If you are traveling with a larger group, you will need to split into two separate groups while traveling within the BWCA.
How much portaging will I do on a Boundary Waters trip with Wilderness Inquiry?
The number and length of portages varies from trip to trip. Portage choices will be made by the Wilderness Inquiry trip leaders based on the strength of the group and specific route chosen within the Boundary Waters.
Which route will my group follow on a Boundary Waters trip with Wilderness Inquiry?
There are many different route choices available within the Boundary Waters. The route will be chosen by Wilderness Inquiry trip leaders based on availability and the strength of the group.
What kind of wildlife will I see on this trip?
Northern Minnesota is home to many animals including, loons, deer, bears, moose, wolves, and more! While we can't guarantee you will see these animals on your trip, there is always a possibility of catching a glimpse (or hearing the call) of one or more of these animals in the north woods.
How do I portage on a Boundary Waters trip if I use a wheelchair?
Portages vary in length and terrain on BWCA trips. Some are flat and relatively easy, others are rugged up and down paths. Some start with a nice landing, others are rocky or swampy. We chose routes that have more accessible portages.
We can only accommodate manual wheelchairs on Boundary Waters trips, power chairs are typically too big and heavy to fit in our canoes.
If you can transfer independently in and out of a car and wheel around a hilly city park you should be able to portage with minimal assistance. If not, we have a variety of ways to assist you, including carrying you over difficult spots if necessary. If you will need help being carried, our upper weight limit is typically around 160 lbs. We recommend you call our office to discuss.
Over the last 40 years, Wilderness Inquiry has successfully served well over 1,000 people who use wheelchairs in the Boundary Waters. So while portaging may seem a bit daunting, we always figure it out and have fun while doing it.