Spirit of the Wilderness Outfitter & Retail Store, Boundary Waters Outfitter,Ely and Western BWCA, BWCA, BWCAW

Spirit of the Wilderness Outfitter & Retail Store

Ely and Western BWCA

Spirit of the Wilderness Outfitter & Retail Store

2030 East Sheridan Steet
Ely, MN   55731

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Contact Information:

Proprietors: Steve, Kathy & Ginny Nelson
Direct Phone: 218-365-3149
Fax: 218-365-7404
Email: info@elycanoetrips.com


Spirit of the Wilderness Outfitting and Outdoor Store,
Ely, Minnesota; centrally located to service all Ely area
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness permit entry
points. Our guests find us an easy one-stop shop before
they head into the BWCAW or Canada’s Quetico Park to the

Your personal preferences, comfort and safety are all
factors that you will ultimately judge the quality of
your wilderness adventure into the BWCAW or Quetico – why
leave any of this to chance? The most important decision
you will make before your canoe, kayak or hiking trip is
your choice of a BWCAW or Quetico outfitter. No one will
give you the personal attention you need like Spirit of
the Wilderness Outfitter and Bait Shop, located in Ely,
Minnesota, the canoe capital of the upper Midwest.

We offer complete & partial outfitting, canoe/kayak/SUP board rental, permit reservations/issuing, personal routing, in-town bunkhouse lodging, ground transportation to/from entry points & regional airports, towboat (water taxi) service on Moose Lake to Basswood, Snowbank Lake to Boot Lake portage, Burntside Lake to Crab Lake portage, along side our retail store featuring bait, fishing tackle, outdoor clothing, footwear, canoe accessories, camping gear and more.

Let us help you create lifetime memories...

Main Offerings:

  • Full Outfitting - Complete or partial outfitting
  • Gear Rental - Light weight, guide tested, clean
  • Trip/Route Planning Assistance - Personal and professional for your group
  • Entry Point Shuttles - Tow boat service; Moose lake, Ensign, Basswood, Prairie Portage, Snowbank, Crab Lake
  • Guide Service - Call for day or multi-day canoe and fishing trips
  • BWCA Permits - Pick up permits 6 am- 9 pm, Specify Spirit of the Wilderness when reserving permits
  • Canoe Rental - Rent by day or week; Special offer rent for 4 days get 5th day @no charge
  • Meal Planning - Plan and Provide fresh and freeze dried meals for groups.
  • Store - Shopping - Outdoor gear & sportswear, footwear, canoe accessories, gifts & more
  • Bunkhouse - Located in Ely for easy access to shopping, restaurants, and BWCA
  • Quetico Outfitting - Let us handle your permit reservation, tow to Prairie Portage, canoe rental & more

Additional Offerings 1:

  • Kevlar Canoe Rental - Wenonah, Bell. We repair & recondition kevlar canoes
  • Maps - Fisher, McKenzie, National Geographic,
  • Solo Canoe Rental - Prism, Encounter, Canak, Magic, Northwind Solo
  • Minnesota Fishing Licenses - Photo ID & SS# required to issue MN licence
  • Hot Showers - Available 6 am - 9 pm daily, May 1-October 15

Additional Offerings 2:

  • Northstar Canoes - Northwind 17 ,18 & 20 ft, Bell Magic, Northwind Solo. Sales, rentals & repair
  • Wenonah Canoes - MN II, Boundary Waters, Spirit II, Champlain, MN3, MN4,Seneca,Prism,Encounter, Canak
  • Kayak Rental - Current Design; Kestral, Double Vision, Standup Paddle Boards
  • Gear Sales - Granite Gear, Seal Line, MSR, Bending Branches, Crazy Creek, Coghlan, Coleman, & more
  • Food Sales - Cache Lake, Backpacker Pantry
  • Fishing Tackle - G Loomis, St Croix, Abu Garcia, Shimano, Rapala, Eagle Claw, Mepps, Berkley plus more
  • Live Bait - Minnows, Leeches, Crawlers, Wax worms. Fresh, delivered weekly
  • Fish Finder Rental - Rent by day or week. Excellent choice for BWCA trip
  • Satellite Phones - Spot Satellite GPS Messenger; Rent by the day or week

Boundary Waters Entry Points Supported

  • Crab Lake and Cummings from Burntside Lake - We offer tow boat service across Burntside to Crab Lake portage, saves 1+ hr paddle
  • Slim Lake - Excellent for a last minute plan. Easy access
  • Big Lake - Limited access to BWCA with long portage
  • Moose River (south) - 8
  • Little Indian Sioux River (south) - 9
  • Little Indian Sioux River (north) - Excellent fishing, scenic views
  • Moose/Portage River (north) - Access to Agnes & Lac La Croix with excellent fishing, pictographs
  • Stuart River - You will do some work on this EP, but worth it
  • Angleworm Lake - Take your time, 1st portage is long
  • Mudro Lake (restricted--no camping on Horse Lake) - Popular. Visit Lower Basswood Falls, pictograghs
  • Mudro Lake - Access to Fourtown lake with historic sites or to Horse River & Basswood River
  • Wood Lake - You will like the fishing and route to Hoist Bay
  • Snowbank Lake Only - We offer towboat service to Boot, Disappontment portages
  • Ojibway Lake/North Kawishiwi River - Use roller portage between Ojibway & Triangle lakes
  • Lake One - Popular w/easy access. travel to Insula for less people & great fishing
  • South Kawishiwi River - Access to wonderful route
  • Little Gabbro Lake - Long 1st portage but worth the effort
  • Island River - Easy entry & access to Isabella River
  • Isabella Lake - Great walleye fishing & campsites
  • Hog Creek - Travel to Lake One and see southern BWCA
  • Kawishiwi Lake - Long trek from Ely, but great fishing & campsites
  • Bog Lake - 67
  • From CANADA - 71
  • Little Isabella River - 75
  • South Hegman Lake - Excellent day-trip to see pictographs and more
  • Snake River - 84
  • Trout Lake - We offer towboat service to & across Trout Lake portage
  • Fall Lake - Easy access to Basswood, portage wheels allowed
  • Moose Lake - Check out our towboat service to Prairie Portage, Ensign, Basswood,
  • Snowbank Lake - We offer towboat service to Boot lake Portage
  • Farm Lake - Cross to Kawishiwi River for fishing and excellent river route
  • Trout Lake - A
  • Fall Lake Only - Easy entry at Fall Lake campground, good fishing
  • Fall Lake and Beyond - Portage wheels allowed to Basswood, we offer towboat service to Four mile portage
  • Moose Lake Chain Only - We offer towboat service to Ensign, Birch lake, Prairie Portage
  • Moose Lake to Prairie Portage - Motorized portage to basswood, $15/boat one-way
  • Snowbank Lake - Deep clear Lake, lake trout, walleye, bass & pike
  • South Farm Lake - Big northern pike, bass

Quetico Entry Points Supported

  • Basswood River - Scenic area with rapids, historic sites and Bald Eagles
  • Sarah Lake - Good bass and walleye fishing
  • Kahshahapiwi Lake - Good circular route to Sarah lake
  • Agnes Lake - 14 miles long, be sure to stop at Louisa Falls
  • Carp Lake - Entry to Man Chain, easy entry, bass fishing on Emerald Lake
  • Knife Lake - Many campsites, good fishing, historic sites
  • Cache Bay Fly In - 75

Now Hiring Full & Part-Time 2022 Summer Staff Open May through Mid-October. During the summer our hours of operation are 6 am to 8 pm every day. Full time is considered 32-40 hours per week.

Spend your summer working and traveling in one of the top 10 world-class wilderness areas...Ely, MN on the edge of the BWCAW and Quetico Park. Spend your off-time canoeing, fishing, and hiking the wilderness. Use your customer service skills and positive attitude to introduce people to an experience of a lifetime. We are looking for positive, friendly, enthusiastic people.

Everyday tasks will vary. Duties may include:
• Packing equipment for complete or partial outfitted groups
• Retail sales (outdoor clothing, camping equipment, bait, & fishing tackle)
• Customer service helping guests at all stages of their canoe trip experience.
• Operate tow service & transportation for guests to & from entry points and regional airports (19 yrs. & older)
• General maintenance & cleaning of canoe, gear, and bait system.
• You must be able to lift 40-70 pounds.

Hourly wages to be determined upon experience. In addition to hourly wages, we offer: a positive and fun work environment, use of our gear and canoes to employees at no charge for shorter and longer trips, in-store discounts on bait, tackle, clothing and camping accessories, use of washer and dryer while working and more.

Please email Spirit of the Wilderness at info@elycanoetrips.com to request an application. Once we receive your application, we will give you a call to set up a time for an interview.