Thanks for the replies. Your comments are similar to what I've heard outside of this forum. The unpredictable hours at the station are a little too much for my tastes. Dang, that tow is expensive!
My spring group went in/out of LLC entry point in mid May 6-7 yrs ago. We left our vehicles in the fenced in car park, which was not locked. The entry station was not yet open when we started our trip but was staffed a few days later. We arrived back at the station after a one week trip at 630-7am before it opened for the day. We found the fenced car park to be closed but the lock was not locked so we got our cars out. While packing up the staff arrived about 730am. The lady ranger appeared to be from the nearby First Nations Reserve. You pass through the Reserve on your way to the entrance station. As I recall the drive in was on a gravel road which at that time was in reasonably good shape. I recall the drive in from the highway as being maybe 45' or longer at a distance of 35-40 miles.
I've made the drive a couple times and have notes at home on the time from Hwy 11 to the ranger station, but I think it is about an hour. Each time we arrived at the ranger station about 12:30 PM. The first time, it was staffed and no issues. The second time, it was locked when we got there. By the time we unloaded, the ranger drove up; he said he was coming back from lunch. On our way out, we arrived about 11 AM and the station was staffed, so no issues. Since you put your vehicle in a locked area, you are very vulnerable to unreliability. Perhaps they staff around times that they know people are putting in, and the planned return times. Personally, I'd use the Lac LaCroix entry point again and hope for the best rather than a $300 tow.
I've lost about 45 minutes paddling to the Beaverhouse ranger station when it was closed during normal hours. Time is of the essence when rain or dusk is quickly approaching. Maybe its all just part of the Q experience...
Last time I got a tow, we had to wait 45 minutes for someone to show up. Kind of screws up the outfitters when this happens.
I’ve never driven to the ranger station so I can’t answer those questions. I use Anderson for a tow when I go there. A couple of times I’ve been there during their posted hours of operation and no one was home. I have checked the box for self entry forms and never found any.
I just leave them a note telling them I stopped and how many are in my party, all the usual details required on a permit. I also leave my contact information and indicate that I am willing to pay after the trip. I’ve never been contacted or asked to pay. I have no idea what they do with my note.
My point is that there seem to be random times when no one is home when they are supposed to be there. If dependability is important, go with Anderson.
Looking for information on driving to Lac la Croix ranger station; condition of the road, drive time from Hwy 11 to ranger station, reliability of staff at ranger station, etc. Many paddlers seem willing to take use the tow service. At $300+ per person for the tow, I was looking to save some $ by driving; but also do not want to save money then encounter headaches and frustrations that make the cost of a tow appear to be a better option. For example, read on this site about a group having to spend an unplanned night camping at the ranger station because no one was available, at 3pm, to unlock the parking compound. Thanks for your thoughts.