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About Us

About Voyageur North OutfittersWe are Tanner and Silke Spicer, your hosts here at Voyageur North Outfitters. We purchased this amazing business from John and Lynn O’Kane who, for over 40 years, built and operated the business with integrity and stellar customer service. Tanner grew up in Ely and in the outfitting, resort, and fishing industry. Now, having worked a full career, he has retired and returned home with his family to his first passion, sharing his love of this beautiful area with others. Outfitting is now our sole venture, this is all we do and we do it with a true passion and focus on exemplary customer service. We are also thankful and happy to say that though Lynn has fully retired, John continues to be firmly seated in his seat at the routing table to share his unparalleled BWCAW wisdom and experience with our customers. All of the caring staff you have come to know and trust remain with us and are ready to help you with your next BWCAW adventure!

Ely Area

Ely, Minnesota is the gateway to the largest wilderness area east of the Rockies but it's not hard to get to. It's only 250 miles from Minneapolis and St. Paul and 575 miles from Chicago.  The BWCAW is within the Superior National Forest in northeastern Minnesota and is part of the National Wilderness Preservation System.

ImageEly has a variety of stores, restaurants and resorts for you to enjoy before and after your expedition. If our bunkhouse is full, you're always welcome at the Budget Host/Motel Ely . The International Wolf Center is nearby. The Dorothy Molter Museum , just down the road from us, tells the story of the famous Root Beer Lady of Isle of Pines.

Ely also has a variety of activities during the winter months from snowmobiling, cross country skiing, sled dog trips, ice fishing, and snowshoeing.  If your looking for a place to stay, two of our bunkhouse units are available year round.


The call of the loon, a northern jumping, coffee perking on the campfire, the aroma of frying bacon, moonlight sparkling off the water. It's all here, waiting for you in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Quetico Provincial Park in northeastern Minnesota and southwestern Ontario. Voyageur North Outfitters is in Ely, the gateway to the Boundary Waters.

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Quetico Provincial Park stretch for nearly 160 miles (258 km.) between Minnesota and Ontario. It's a land of forests, rivers, deep, clear lakes, wildlife, and unsurpassed natural beauty. Explore the BWCAW through our interactive map section, Voyageur Atlas.

You'll travel through this 2.5 million acre (1.02 million ha.) wilderness following the same water routes used by the Sioux, Chippewa, and our namesakes, the French-Canadian Voyageurs.

Every fall from about 1750 until the mid-1800s, the Voyageurs carried trade goods through the Boundary Waters as far as the Great Slave Lake in Canada's Northwest Territories. They spent the winter in the interior trading with the Native Americans. When the ice went out of the lakes and rivers, they returned with beaver and other pelts. In fact, the Voyageurs' route through the Boundary Waters defines the Canadian-U.S. border.

The lakes and landscape of the Boundary Waters were carved out of three billion-year old rock by glaciers that covered the area only a million years ago. If you look closely, you can find grooves in the rock left by the glaciers. The glaciers left behind rocky shorelines and clear lakes.

The Boundary Waters lakes are home to some of the best-tasting fish anywhere. The angler will find northern pike, walleye, smallmouth bass, lake trout, crappies, blue gills, and even rainbow and brook trout in some lakes.

The unofficial mascot of the Boundary Waters is the common loon, whose spooky laughter sends chills down your spine when heard in the still of the evening. You might also see bald eagles, great blue herons, and the Canadian jay. The Boundary Waters is home to a significant number of timber wolves, the last large packs in the lower 48 states. There are also moose, white-tailed deer, black bear, beaver, and fox.

Jack pine, Norway pine, white pine, tamarack, black spruce, white spruce, balsam fir, white cedar, paper birch, and quaking aspen cover the Boundary Waters.

Winter is a seven-month event in the Boundary Waters. The short summers begin in early May when the ice goes out of the lakes and ends with snow and the freeze over in October. We offer Boundary Waters Permit!

Here's what to expect for the canoeing months

  May June July Aug. Sept.
Average high (F / C) 70/ 21 72 / 22 79 / 26 72 / 22 63 / 17
Average low (F / C) 40 / 4 47 / 8 56 / 13 52 / 11 42 / 5
Precipitation (in. / cm.) 2.4 / 6.1 5.6 / 14.2 0.5/ 1.2 5.3 / 13.5 3.7 / 9.4

As during the time of the Native Americans and the Voyageurs, the canoe is how you'll get around in the Boundary Waters. The lakes and rivers are connected by portages. In the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness you'll camp at established single-party campsites with fire rings and latrines. In Quetico Provincial Park there are no established campsites. As in all wilderness areas, low-impact camping is the rule.

Our goal is to let you experience the beauty and excitement felt by the Voyageurs three hundred years ago. Except that you'll be using light weight gear, you'll eat sumptuous meals, and most importantly, you'll have time to enjoy the beauty that surrounds you.