Planning a Base Camp Trip in the Boundary Waters
Base Camp Trip in the BWCA
The number of canoe routes one could come up with in the BWCA is almost endless, it really just depends on what you’re looking for, and how hard you are willing to work. Though routing a base camp trip through the wilderness that puts you on a different lake every night is a great way to experience the area there is another way to enjoy the beauty of the Boundary Waters that does not require packing up and moving each morning: base-camping. There are pros and cons with everything in life and trying to decide whether you should base-camp or move everyday during your Boundary Waters adventure is no different. There are a number of circumstances when it might make more sense to choose a base-camping style trip for your group.
If your schedule only allows for an overnight or two night trip you may want to consider a base camp trip. Doing this will allow you more time enjoying the wilderness versus spending time packing up and setting up two different camps.
The worst thing you can do while introducing first timers or kids to the wonders of the Boundary Waters is by taking all of the fun out it. There are endless ways to explore the BWCA and while spending all day paddling and portaging into the heart of the park is a popular one, most first timers will not find this to be enjoyable. If you are taking kids out for their first trip the last thing you want is for their experience to be a negative one.
Proximity to Destinations
If there are a number of hikes, waterfalls, or other specific destinations in the area you would like to camp it might make sense to spend all of your time in one campsite and day-trip to the different spots, also known as a base camp trip.
If you are looking to bring a few more items of non essential camping gear to add to the comfort levels of your trip a base camp trip style will keep you from hauling all of it over multiple portages. Most of the routes we recommend for your base-camping trip require few if any portages meaning you can really save your back and decide to bring those chairs, cooler of beer, or screened in gazebo.
This is probably the best reason to spend all of your time in the Boundary Waters at one campsite. If your primary goal while visiting the wilderness is to spend your days on the water fishing, then base-camping is the ticket. Fishing throughout the day while moving from one campsite to another with a loaded canoe can be cumbersome and stressful. Unloading your gear, setting up camp and then heading back out with a mostly empty canoe is the way I prefer to fish in BWCA. The feeling of spending every last bit of daylight on the water taking one more cast all the while knowing you have a campsite set up and ready to return to is tough to beat.
Check out some of our suggested Base-Camp Routes to help you get started.