Boundary Waters Canoe Area Family Trip
Guided Wilderness Canoe Adventure for Your Family
Experience stillness, silence, and solitude, paddling the pristine waters of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) with your family. Paddle among towering red and white pines, tamarack bogs, and beautiful white paper birches in this home to moose, lynx, and the eastern timber wolf. Hear the call of the loon and watch the rising sun burn mist off of a mirror-still lake at daybreak. Unwind around an evening campfire and, if you’re lucky, see the northern lights streaking across the sky. Endless variations of Boundary Waters routes await you, each as spectacular as the next. Our lightweight canoes make paddling and portaging easier than ever. Wilderness Inquiry is one of the only organizations that provide two professional guides on its Boundary Waters trips.
Note: There are many different routes in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). The route described below is for Brule Lake. Your trip may follow this route, or one of the other Boundary Waters routes available. Every trip has its own unique sites and experiences
DAY 1: Your trip starts in the afternoon at one of the BWCAW ranger stations. You will ride to your entry point where the trailer will be unloaded and your gear packed into large dry bags. The first day’s paddle will be from the Brule Lake access point to a campsite in Jock Mock Bay. In camp you will prepare dinner and enjoy an evening around the fire as you discuss trip expectations.
DAY 2: After breakfast, review canoeing skills and other details necessary for a safe and fun trip. Spend the day exploring other sections of Brule Lake, fishing and swimming in this beautiful wilderness. Spend a second night at your campsite for an evening around the fire with games and s'mores.
DAY 3: Rise early to break camp and head deeper into the BWCAW. As a group, choose from a number of routes and try your skills on a portage, just like the Voyaguers used to in the area. Tonight find a new wilderness based campsite to spend another couple of days.
DAY 4: Take a day trip to explore of this beautiful area. Some of the lakes have steep cliffs and palisades, while others offer sandy points. Keep your eyes peeled for eagles, loons and other animals that call this place home.
DAY 5: Rise with the sun, and begin your paddle trip home. The trip officially ends in the late morning. Those who use WI's van transportation can expect to return to Minneapolis in the evening.
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 trail leaders 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.
TYPE OF TRAVEL/DISTANCE: You will travel in 17-foot tandem canoes, which hold two to three paddlers, plus all necessary gear. An average day's travel consists of 3-6 hours of paddling, and you can expect 2-4 portages (short trail crossings) per day. The portages tend to be hilly and range from 20 feet to 1/4 mile. Travel distances vary from 6-12 miles per day with the exception of scheduled layover days. To protect the environment, WI uses Leave No Trace camping techniques.
WEATHER: Temperatures in the summer range from 40 F to 95 F. Rainfall can vary, but you should expect at least a day or two of rain.
YOUR GROUP: The group size for this trip is limited to 7 people, plus 2 Wilderness Inquiry staff. Most groups consist of people of various ages, backgrounds and abilities, including people with disabilities. Our trips are cooperative in nature. WI staff will assist you in whatever areas you need, however most people pitch in where they can. Part of the adventure involves learning about daily camp activities.
ACCOMMODATIONS: This is a camping trip. At night you and your family will sleep in a comfortable Eureka tent. Typically, there are 3 people per 4-person tent (although other arrangements can be made). Bathroom facilities consist of a USDA Forest Service commode. We make every effort to ensure privacy and cleanliness.
MEALS: The fun of family outdoor adventures includes cooking in the wilderness. With plenty of fresh air and exercise, hungers are at their peak and our meals are especially good. We pride ourselves on providing healthful ingredients for simple, plentiful dishes everyone will enjoy. Count on hearty breakfasts of pancakes, bacon and fresh fruit, trail lunches of cheeses and cured meats, plenty of snacks, and wonderful stir-fries, sautés, and pasta dishes, finished off with campfire s’mores. If you have special dietary restrictions, be sure to list them on your registration.
EQUIPMENT AND CLOTHING: Wilderness Inquiry provides all necessary canoeing and camping equipment. All you need to provide is your personal gear, such as clothing and a sleeping bag. A detailed equipment list will be sent to you upon confirmation of your participation. No cans or bottles are allowed in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.A note about the itinerary: Our trips are real adventures in the outdoors. While we'll make every effort to follow the itinerary listed here, elements may change due to weather or reasons beyond our control.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is the minimum age for kids on your family trips?
There is no minimum age requirement to participate on a WI family trip. We require participants to wear a personal flotation device (PFD) at all times when on water for safety. The smallest PFD we provide for children requires a minimum weight of 30 pounds. A family with a child smaller than this weight limit would need to provide their own PFD or would be unable to participate on the trip. For family paddling trips, children should be able to sit comfortably in a canoe or kayak for 1+ hour at a time. This should guide whether or not a child would be a good fit on any particular trip.
What is your cancellation/refund policy?
Your 10% deposit is non-refundable. If you choose to cancel your trip:
For trips in the continental United States:
• 6 weeks prior to start date — we will refund fees paid minus deposit.
• Less than 6 weeks — we will refund 50% of the total trip fee, or 100% of fees paid can be transferred to a future trip.
• Less than 1 week— no refunds will be issued.
For trips outside the continental United States:
• 12 weeks prior to start date— we will refund fees paid minus deposit.
• Less than 12 weeks — we will refund 50% of the total trip fee, or 100% of fees paid can be transferred to a future trip.
• Less than 2 weeks — no refunds will be issued.
In the rare event that WI cancels a trip, or we are unable to serve you, all fees are immediately refunded, including the deposit. Unfortunately, we cannot be responsible for personal expenses such as airline tickets. To protect your investment in your travel plans we recommend purchasing travel insurance. Information on travel insurance is included in your trip confirmation packet. If after registering you wish to switch trips, you may do so subject to availability. Fees may apply.
Under certain circumstances, such as death of a family member, change in health status, loss of employment, etc., we may make exceptions to our refund policies. Please let us know immediately if your plans change!
Is there a discount on family trips?
Yes. All youth participants under the age of 18 pay 50% less than the adult rate on all family trips. Click here to see a list of our available family trips.
I have a child with a disability. Would a family trip be appropriate for them?
Yes. All of our trips strive to integrate persons with and without disabilities, including children on our family trips. Call us at 612-676-9400 if you have questions. Otherwise, you can register for a family trip and we'll call you when we receive your forms.
Will age-appropriate activities be offered for children on a family trip?
Yes. Your trip leaders will offer age-appropriate activities for children at different points throughout the trip.
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, WI 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.
What is the maximum group size in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness?
A group of 9 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 2 professional guides on each trip experience, so a group of 7 participants is the largest that can travel together at the same time.
If you are traveling with a group of more than 7 people, the group will need to split into two separate groups with traveling within the BWCAW.
What does BWCA or BWCAW stand for?
Boundary Waters Canoe Area or Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness
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.
I am riding in the Wilderness Inquiry van to the trip starting point. Where can I park my car?
Wilderness Inquiry has no participant parking available in our lot. We recommend you make arrangements to be dropped off and picked up at WI. If you are unable to make a drop off/pick up arrangement, you can park your car at the St. Anthony Standard parking ramp ($10/day). Long-term street parking is not available.
No Dates Scheduled
WI leads trips to this destination but currently has no dates scheduled. If you have a group of people interested, we can set up a customized adventure just for you! Please contact us if you are interested in a group trip to this destination.
Call us to arrange one of these trips for your group: