Piragis Northwoods Outfitters
Boundary Waters Canoe Trips
105 North Central Avenue
Ely, Minnesota 55731

Why we do what we do:

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Frequently Asked Questions:


If I’m not renting a canoe, do I need to license my own canoe?
The answer is that you have to have a canoe that is licensed and stickered. If you live in a state that requires your canoe to be licensed and stickered, then you do not have to purchase a MN license. But, if your state does not require you to license your canoe, then you’ll have to register it with the state of MN and put the sticker on your canoe. Contact the Deputy Registrar in Ely, MN to get this taken care of. The number is 218-365-6262. Remember that they are closed on the weekends.

Can I get maps for my trip ahead of time? You sure can. It’s easy. Feel free to order online or give us a call to place your order. If you are using our outfitting services, call Adam or Drew and we’ll just add the maps to your outfitting invoice.

What are the outfitting hours? From mid-May until mid-September, outfitting is open from 6am until 8pm. During the early and later part of the season, we open at 7am. Keep in mind that we are available for rentals until the lakes are frozen. Piragis Northwoods Company is open all year!

What are the average temperatures up in Ely? click here

What kind of animals might I see or hear? Some of the bigger animals we have are moose, wolves, deer and black bear. A few of the creatures we have are, but not limited to, include beaver, otter, muskrat, pine martin, red squirrel, chipmunks, and turtles.

Do I need a BWCA permit for a day trip? You need a permit any time you are in the Boundary Waters. For day trips, you can fill out a self-issue permit located at each entry point. One part of the permit goes into a box and the other you keep with you while on your day trip.

When is the best time for fall colors? Most of the time, the best colors are mid- September through early October.

Will my cell phone work in the BWCA & Quetico? Do not count on your cell phone working while in the wilderness. Sometimes you can get lucky, but the best way is to have a satellite phone with you. Call ahead of time to reserve a satellite phone.

When do you sell your used canoes and rental gear? We sell our entire fleet of canoes each year and let them go in October. However, people can put down $200 to hold one of these canoes at anytime of the year. In fact, we suggest you do that so you get the model that you are looking for. As for rental equipment, October is the time when we start the sale, but will have a few things available throughout the year.

When is blueberry season? The middle of July is usually a good time for this.

When is blackfly season? Generally, this is in the latter part of May until the end of June.

Is the water clean enough to drink? While we know people who do drink straight out of these lakes (it is some of the freshest water that is left in the USA), there are still plenty of microorganisms that could make you sick. We recommend you use a filter, tablets, boil or use a LifeStraw or SteriPEN. We have a nice selection of these items in our store and online.

How do I cook if there is a fire ban in my area? You would need to bring a stove that uses fuel…. canisters or white gas for instance.

Can I get one or two canoes on my vehicle? Yes, no problem at all. We are able to create a rack for two canoes if needed by using 2x2s, foam blocks and straps.

What’s the first thing I need to do to get my canoe trip going? A canoe trip starts with reserving a permit for a specific entry point on a specific date. Call us for any permit questions you have.

Since there are bears, what do we do with our food? Most people will choose to hang their food in a tree. But, there are some other thoughts on this topic. Another idea is to hide the food pack in the woods about 50 yards from camp. We rent bear barrels and that can give you peace of mind as well. Some people will just keep the pack in camp and put a few pots and pans on top so that they act as an alarm. We feel that one major thing to do is to keep your camp clean and your food packed tightly so you keep the food odors away. With all this info, it is rare to have bear problems, but we must keep in mind that they are in this wilderness.

Can we bring a dog? Yes, dogs are allowed. It is a good idea to bring a copy of the dog’s rabies certificate with you. Also, the dog should be well behaved. It should not run after other people, wildlife, or bark all the time. Remember, there are other people who are looking for the quiet and solitude out there and you don’t want to ruin it for others with an ill-behaved pooch.

What’s the difference between the Boundary Waters and Quetico?

Boundary Waters

There is a per person user fee per trip (not per night)
Lottery entry for Moose Lake and Fall Lake is December 19 through January 19. First come, first serve for all other entry points and Moose and Fall Lakes begins on January 25th.
Must camp at designated camp sites
Each site has a Forest Service steel fire grate
Each site has a latrine in the woods
Maximum of 9 people and 4 canoes
Canoes/kayaks must be registered


There is a per person per night fee
Permits can be reserved 5 months in advance
Camp anywhere, use Leave No Trace practices
No live bait
You can only use barbless hooks (ok to pinch the hooks that you have now)
There are no fire grates or latrines
Maximum of 9 people
RABC permit needed for entry, call for details about this
No firearms allowed

Call Drew Brockett or Adam Macht
today for help planning your next wilderness canoe camping trip.

1-800-223-6565 to reserve your permits, canoes and gear today.