The Immensity of Quetico Provincial Park

Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada is one of the most pristine wilderness areas left in North America. Many adjectives come to mind when describing this scenic wonder.

Pristine, wild, beautiful, remote, rugged are just a few terms that come to mind. When I think of this land of lakes, trees and granite rocks the word that comes to mind is immense.

During an eight day adventure travel trip to Lake Kawnippi, which is the epicenter of Quetico, only a handful of people were encountered. Heading north on the south end of Kawnippi we passed 9 paddlers in 3 canoes heading south. After we passed them we would not talk to a single human being for four days.

On our way back we passed a young couple on their way out to Kawnippi. In between our sightings of people we caught several meals of fresh fish including walleye, smallmouth bass, and northern pike. We heard the forlorn cry of the loon and paddled with several pairs that ignored us while they fished close by. We also saw bald eagles, osprey, and a family of river otters. The northern lights appear one night and flicker over the starry sky.

Lake Kawnippi is an enormous lake that stretches over ten miles long from the south end to the north end. Our goal was to camp near the far northern end. It is not only a ten mile paddle on the lake, but it is also necessary to paddle twenty miles up the Falls chain, which is a series of portages around waterfalls. It takes at least two days to get to Kawnippi no matter which way the paddler enters the park. The trek is far from easy as there are 9 portages including two that are close to a half mile long.

The benefit of the tough trip is solitude. It is hard to believe that we nearly have this ten mile long wonder all to ourselves. This lake is just one lake of many in Quetico and the deep blue water, and dark green norway pines, and the granite cliffs seem to extend forever. In the middle of this wide expanse is one canoe as it slowly makes its way to the northern end of Lake Kawnippi.

Quetico is a true wilderness experience, especially for those who adventure into the interior. Spending time on a vast lake with hardly anyone else around and knowing there are hundreds of lakes in close proximity also with very few people is a truly humbling experience. One realizes how immense the Canadian and Quetico wilderness really is.

Bio – Ted Nelson writes for as the Chicago Adventure Travel Examiner. He has been adventure traveling since he was 10 years old following around his dad. He has gone hiking, canoeing, and cross-country skiing all over the Chicago area, America, and the world. Feel free to contact me at with any comments or suggestions or you can follow him on twitter.

Quetico Provincial Park fishing

Quetico Provincial Park activities

Quetico Provincial Park

Quetico Provincial Park fish

Quetico Provinical Park canoeing

3 thoughts on “The Immensity of Quetico Provincial Park

  1. I really enjoyed your writing of your Quetico experience. You put into words so well the feeling of experiencing such a pristine environment. Your trip sounds nearly identical to a 2 week trip I took out of Camp Manito-Wish in Boulder Junction,WI, about 30 years ago. I remember working up the Falls chain portages. They were tough and muddy. I remember one of the portages was named ‘Have a Smoke’. We started and ended in the BWCA in Ely, MN. Plus there was the River Malign in there somewhere. I should pull out of waxy, yellowed map and refresh my memory. Anyway, thanks for stirring some great memories.

  2. I crossed into Quetico from northern Minnesota and the Boundary Waters Wilderness. I’ve been there four times and lopng to go back to the solitude.
    After two portages I did not see another person for ten days. It is hard to backpack provisions for ten days, but lots of rice, dried fruit (and walleye) made the trip comfortable enough. The call of loons in the evening and the antics of beaver in the day time made for a kind of company that haunts a person in the wilderness. Small things take on intensity.

    Thanks for sharing your adventures and pictures. Stay trekkin’.

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