Monday, May 15, 2017

BWCA towboat service 2017

Will you be entering the Boundary Waters at Moose Lake chain, Snowbank Lake or Burntside Lake (Crab Lake portage)?  Consider using towboat service to get you and your group into the BWCA quicker and avoid possible windy conditions that each of these lakes experience.  Service can be reserved for 1-way or round trip. Cost: $32.00/person 1-way, minimum 2 people, if renting canoes or outfitted by us. Or $37.00/person 1 way, minimum 2 people if no rental or outfitting.

Spirit of the Wilderness is specifically permitted by the USFS to provide towboat service on each of these lakes. We own and operates our own towboats, which means we are on-time for departure and return pick up to meet your schedule. Our towboats are 18 ft long, with 25 hp E-tec engines. Our trained operators/staff are courteous and knowledgeable of the routes and drop-off locations.

We load canoes and gear at our Ely store and trailer to the appropriate entry point where we launch our towboats. Ground travel time to entry points from our Ely store is usually 30 minutes or less.

Water travel time
  • Moose lake chain: Time on the water to Prairie Portage, Birch Lake, or Splash lake is another 30 minutes or so. Tow service will save you 3-4 hours of paddling 1-way.
  • Snowbank lake: Water travel time to Boot Lake portage is about 25 minutes. Saves you 3 hours of paddling
  • Burntside Lake to Crab Portage: Water travel time is 25 minutes, saving you up to 2 hours paddling 1-way
Guest reaction:
Two seasons ago, we provided towboat service for 8 gentlemen, 4 canoes, and all their gear for a 5-day/4-night adventure. We loaded gear into the towboats with 2 canoes strapped onto racks of each towboat at our Ely store. Everyone got into our vans and we trailered out to and launched at the Moose Lake boat access. Water travel was tough as we were bucking 15-20 mph headwinds the entire trip through Moose, Newfound to the Splash Lake portage.

Other groups we passed paddling the Moose Lake chain that day were really struggling to make any distance with the headwinds and 2 foot roller waves. All groups we passed looked tired and frustrated. I wondered if they would make their chosen destination that first day or have to make early camp and wait until the winds died down in the evening.

As we were coming into the drop-off location at the Splash Lake portage, one of the fellas commented to his buddy saying; "I'll never complain about towboats again! We would never have made it to Splash lake and onto Ensign lake today." Their adventure was off to a good start and they had ample time to make their first campsite with daylight to spare for fishing and exploring the area.

Call today and make your reservation for towboat service by Spirit of the Wilderness Outfitters, Ely MN. 218-365-3149 or email us at