The North Country Advantage in the BWCA/Quetico

The NCCO Advantage in a Nutshell

  • Location: Our outfitting base is located on a strategic lake versus in town on Ely's main street.
  • Custom Trip Planning: Prior to deter-mining an Entry Point for your trip, we offer an in-depth reservation request form, which, when completed, outlines your ability levels, travel expectations, goals of your canoe trip, and fishing preferences, so as to better plan your canoe trip.
  • Lakeside Accomodations: We offer private dorm style and motel style rooms for handy lakeside accommodations.
  • Lightweight Equipment:  We offer ONLY Ultra-Lightweight Outfitting equipment through our Silver and Gold packages.
  • Best Food:  We offer two top quality menus featuring both freeze-dried and fresh foods, including Certified Angus Beef® steaks as a regular menu item.
  • Discount Youth Trips: We offer significantly discounted package rates to non-profit youth groups, while using the same high quality equipment as for our private parties.
  • Fly-in Trips: We offer Fly-in Canoe Trips on a flat rate cost per person basis
  • Entry Transportation Included:  We offer both land transportation and towboat service from our base to all of the Ely area BWCA entry points (included with our Gold and Silver Packages), PLUS towboat service from Moose Lake to the Quetico Ranger Station at Prairie Portage.
  • NO HIDDEN FEES: Our brochure booklet lists all pricing information. Options which may result in an extra charge are all up front and transparent. No surprises later.

Why Outfit with North Country Outfitters?

We want you to take your canoe trip with us. We also realize that one individual outfitter cannot be all things to all people. For that reason, we have outlined some areas you may want to consider when selecting the outfitter that's right for you.

For every person that visits one of our sparkling lakes, there is a particular set of reasons for taking a canoe trip. Quite often members of the same group want different experiences from their wilderness trip. And that is how it should be. The outfitter you select should be in a position to take all your reasons into account discuss them as he plans your trip with you. There are thousands of lakes in the Ely area; each one unique. Some are good on one occasion, others may be better for another time.

When you talked to an outfitter (whether at a sport show or the telephone) did he ask what you were looking for? Did he start talking about a trip from a particular lake, or into a specific area, without  knowing your unique circumstances? How close is he going to be when it comes time to design your route considering your expectations and ability level?

We encourage you to take the time to check out some of the things that we think make outfitting with NCCO the best decision you can make. We are one of the premiere outfitting businesses in North America, with thousands of satisfied customers. Many of our past clients return year after year.

No, we are not the least expensive. If you want a rate that is at the bottom end of the scale, we simply cannot help you. If, however, want a trip worth paying a little extra for ... a great memory for years to come ... an outfitter that you will recommend .. come to see us. We will give you just that kind of experience!

Read our article "How to Find the Best Canoe Outfitter"

Ely Minnesota location

Outfitting canoe trips into the Boundary Waters and Quetico Park since 1984 ... Ely's premier outfitter

Our base is located six miles from the little town of Ely, Minnesota, on White Iron Lake (the majority of which is uninhabited). We are one of only a very few outfitters in our immediate area, our parties may choose to begin their wilderness experience without the heavy canoe congestion found on a few of the entry lakes. The smaller, narrow lakes leading away from our base dock insures safe, easy paddling, even on windy days. Short, direct canoe access to three BWCA entry points, lead to some of the more remote lakes in the area. However, should you want to go into Canada, or begin your travel through the north country from one of the other U.S.-side entry points, we will be happy to transport you and your equipment ... whether that be by van and trailer ... tow boat ... or float plane.

Fly-in canoe outfitting

North Country Canoe Outfitters Lakeside Base and Services

Although the BWCA and Quetico Park are "friendly" wilderness areas, they sometimes pose challenging obstacles to the uninformed or novice visitor. We want to serve you with the highest degree of professionalism. We can provide invaluable assistance in securing the required  permits (US or Canadian), transportation to & from outlying landings, route suggestions, and general background information on the area which you intend to travel (no one is more familiar with the canoe country than we are -- we live here and have traveled the many lakes and streams).

Light canoes, the right gear expressly designed for BWCA canoeing

Complete, Professional Outfitting by NCCO

We offer to you complete, professional outfitting and provide all that is necessary for you to enjoy a great wilderness canoe trip. We will supply canoes and equipment designed expressly for this area. Much of today's "high tech" backpacking equipment is not suited to canoe country travel. Conversely, canoe camping equipment tends to be single purpose gear: ideal for canoeing, but not well suited for other types of camping.  We also do partial outfitting for those having their own equipment. NCCO food packing and outfitting complies with all federal regulations as they apply to both Minnesota's Boundary Waters Canoe Area and Canada's Quetico Park.

And finally when you return from your canoe trip,  leave behind the dirty gear. All you really need to bring to Ely is your personal clothing and  fishing tackle, along with your spirit of adventure. Many of the Scout troops leave their own gear home and avail themselves of the quality and convenience of North Country Canoe Outfitters.

Quetico approved outfitter

Outfitter with Unique Outfitting Privileges

We were one of the first, and remain one of the outfitters in the Superior National Forest to be granted full outfitting operations under federal permit by the  Forest Service. We are one of only two Minnesota outfitters who have been granted a provincial outfitting permit in Canada. These permits ensure quality outfitting and full insurance coverage. NCCO is the outfitting industry leader, dealing with the newest equipment (including our "Expedition Grade" gear).

THE ONE SINGLE REASON, however, that our customers choose us to outfit their trip, is individual service. We make every effort to create a trip to areas and lakes that will produce the best experience. We will pick your entry point and design your trip route around your special needs; we don't fit you into an "off the shelf" trip that is convenient for us.

The Best Food

Certified Angus Beef brand steak

Menus need to be viewed under the same bright lights as equipment lists. "A fresh steak" for the first night on the trail may not be the same size or cut as "An 8oz USDA Certified Angus Beef T Steak." Increased quality and variety goes hand-in-glove with trip costs.

Read each menu item as if it stands alone

It will at mealtime out on the trail. Is one brand of food used exclusively? If so, this could mean cost cutting through quantity discounts from the manufacturer. Nothing wrong with cost control. It may, however, indicate leaning away from variety with the best-tasting individual items and towards a higher profit margin.

Certified Angus Beef Brand Steak

Check to see if items are repeated on the menu

One listing of peanut butter and jelly and another for a second for jelly and peanut butter are NOT two different selections. How many ways are you expected to fix macaroni and cheese? Hot dogs are fine for a picnic lunch ... but they may be lacking in the nourishment department when served as a main course after a long day on the canoe trails.

North Country uses only the highest quality foods, a variety of brand names, and a combination of freeze-dired and fresh foods.  We know you will see, feel -- and taste -- the difference a top quality menu can make in your trip.