Canoe Tripping Through Canada’s Quetico Provincial Park

©istockphoto/WildnerdpixFor pad­dling enthu­si­asts, Queti­co Provin­cial Park is almost too good to be true. Stretch­ing across 460,000 hectares in north­west Ontario just north of the Min­neso­ta bor­der, Queti­co is equal­ly suit­ed for a month-long canoe expe­di­tion as it is for a week­end on the water. With more than 2,000 lakes to explore, you’d have trou­ble tack­ling the entire park in the course of your life­time, but it’s fun to try anyway.

Get (Way) Out There
The beau­ty of Queti­co is that there is no set path that you need to take. Drop your canoe at one of six entry points and, from there, choose your own adventure.

Some lakes are busier than oth­ers, but if you’re will­ing to make a few short portages, odds are good you’ll pass sev­er­al days with­out see­ing anoth­er soul. Now that’s solitude.

©istockphoto/WildnerdpixWild, Wild North­west­ern Ontario
A true wilder­ness park, don’t expect to be cod­dled at Queti­co. Camp­sites aren’t indi­cat­ed on maps, nor are there signs point­ing the way on the land. Instead, keep your eyes peeled for easy land­ings that lead to clear­ings in the bush, which would be your campsites.

There are no bivys or met­al fire pits, though many camp­sites fea­ture prim­i­tive fire­places made out of rocks. No need to make reser­va­tions ahead of time; just pad­dle up to one of 2,000 camp­sites hid­den in the park and stake your claim. Once you’ve had a lit­tle prac­tice, you’ll have no prob­lem locat­ing them.

Fish Your Heart Out
Pick up a license and bring your gear, as Queti­co Provin­cial Park is home to some excel­lent fish­ing. Play your cards right and you could have dif­fer­ent fish for din­ner just about every sin­gle night (wall­eye, pike, lake trout, the list goes on). The park only per­mits bar­b­less hooks and arti­fi­cial bait, so come prepared.

Peace and Quiet
Motor­boats aren’t allowed in Queti­co Provin­cial Park, so don’t wor­ry about wak­ing up to the obnox­ious purr of a Sea-Doo. Anoth­er great bonus of being a motor-free zone: the water is pris­tine. Don’t be sur­prised if you see a local dip­ping a cup in the lake and drink­ing straight out of it.

©istockphoto/WildnerdpixWatch for Moose
Keep your eyes on the shore­line, and you may be reward­ed with a moose sight­ing. Moose pre­fer marshy areas, and your odds of see­ing them are best around dusk and dawn, which makes the per­fect excuse to get mov­ing in the morn­ing. Watch out for oth­er wildlife, too, such as black bears, bald eagles and wolves.

What to Bring
Regard­less of how long you’re plan­ning on stay­ing in the park, you need to pick a per­mit from a ranger office. Invest in a good map, too, and make sure it indi­cates the loca­tions of the portages; they aren’t marked on the land.

There are numer­ous reg­u­la­tions in place that help keep Queti­co in its spec­tac­u­lar nat­ur­al state. Your group can’t exceed 9 peo­ple, and most cans and bot­tles are for­bid­den. Famil­iar­ize your­self with the rules and do your part to keep Queti­co wild. Pack it in, pack it out, goes with­out saying.

Get Orga­nized
If you’re trav­el­ing to Queti­co, con­sid­er rent­ing your gear instead of lug­ging it with you. Local out­fit­ters like Camp Queti­co or Queti­co North can pro­vide you with every­thing you need. You can also book a local guide to show you the ropes; they know every­thing from the best camp­sites to the least mud­dy portages, to the prime loca­tion to catch a huge lake trout. It’s a wor­thy invest­ment, espe­cial­ly if it’s your first time in the park.