Trip Planning

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area is a wilderness area within the Superior National Forest in northern Minnesota. The BWCA is renowned as a destination for both canoeing and fishing on its many lakes and is the most visited wilderness in the United States.

Quick facts

  • 1000+ lakes
  • 2,200+ campsites
  • 1,500 miles of canoe routes
  • 1.1 million acres
  • Contains the highest point in Minnesota, Eagle Mountain, at 2,301 feet
  • Federally designated as a wilderness in 1964 and more fully protected in 1978

Whetstone’s base camp is located in the middle of this wilderness paradise and we specialize in guiding trips throughout the region.

We can take eight per group in addition to our guide. If you prefer to guide your own adventure you can take a total of nine people.

There are several things to consider when planning your trip. The strength and ability of each member, the goals for your trip; do you want to stay in a “base camp” to do day trips, or would you like to cover many miles and see as much as possible? Each trip can be designed to meet the needs and abilities of each group. Our guides will be happy to discuss with you the options that are available to help you have the most enjoyable time.

There is no minimum or maximum age for Whetstone adventures. Each Father should determine whether their son or daughter is mature enough to travel and endure the rigors of rough terrain. Each individual should be physically fit and be able to carry a pack or a canoe and walk up to a mile.

 Trip Planning

Packing List

  • Bible
  • Notebook, Pen or pencil
  • Sunglasses with floatation strap
  • Medications
  • Mosquito repellant and bug head net
  • Sun Screen
  • Emergency toilet paper
  • Underwear 2, Socks 3, T-shirts 2
  • Long sleeved fishing shirt
  • Sweat shirt or Fleece
  • Water-wicking Shorts 2, Water-wicking Pants 1
  • Shoes to get wet. Tennis shoes or hiking shoes designed for water are best; the trail can be rough so sandals or shower shoes do not work well.
  • Shoes for dry at camp
  • Hat
  • Rain gear -Jacket and pants preferred, ponchos are ok
  • Bathing Suit
  • Bath towel
  • Tooth brush and toothpaste
  • Ground pad or air mattress
  • Sleeping bag
  • Paracord
  • Matches
  • Knife
  • 2 ‘Nalgene’ bottles
  • Camera with waterproof case
  • Fishing Pole
  • Fishing Tackle (8-10 lb. line, lures, stringer, steel leaders, plastic grubs/leaches, crankbaits, etc.)
  • Fishing License
  • Headlamp and/or Flashlight
  • Option Items:
    • Hammock/ENO
    • Books
    • Games
    • SCUBA Mask or Goggles
    • Favorite fish seasonings
    • Energy snacks (trail mix, candy, energy drink mix powder)

Whetstone will furnish canoes, paddles, personal floatation devices, food, tents, eating utensils, Duluth bags to carry your gear in. It’s a good idea to pack all belongings in waterproof compression bags and further organized in ‘zip-loc‘ bags.

 Trip Planning

Typical Adventure Flow



Sunday through Friday (typical day - guided trips)


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 Trip Planning
 Trip Planning

Guided Adventures v. Self-Guided Adventures

Whetstone provides expert guides capable of leading groups through the rigors of rugged wilderness life. Weather is one of the biggest safety issues with strong summer storms affecting canoe travel and even life in the relative safety of a camp. Guides provide navigation assistance through the BWCA’s 1,000+ interconnecting lakes. Hitting each waypoint throughout the trip and your scheduled exit point is crucial and something your guide is trained to do.

Beyond guiding the trip, Whetstone guides are trained in providing a spiritual component for each group. The stillness of Christ-centered morning devotions and the sound of acapella singing across the water in the evening will have a lasting impact.

Guided versus non-guided is a decision we will be glad to discuss with you. Your group will be well suited for a self-guided trip especially if they have outdoor experience and a working knowledge of map and compass orienteering.



Whetstone adventures typically launch on Saturday mornings and return to base camp Friday mornings the following week. Plan to arrive mid-afternoon Friday before your adventure. This will provide the necessary time for re-packing gear and staging all equipment for the next day’s launch.

On your final day we find it best to arrive at your pre-designated exit point early to mid-morning. Whetstone staff will meet your group for assistance and transportation back to base camp.

Air Travel

For an extra fee Whetsone is can arrange transportation to and from regional airports. The three most-utilized airports are Minneapolis-St. Paul International (approx. 4 hours south), Duluth International Airport (approx. 2 hours south) and the Range Regional Airport in Hibbing, MN (about an hour about an hour and twenty minutes southwest).

Contact us if you will require transportation from one of these airports.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Whetstone provide for special dietary restrictions?

Please indicate on your application if there are any special needs and we will do all we can to arrange the menu and food to accommodate your needs. There may be things that you may have to provide if your needs are extreme or difficult to serve. Please discuss your needs with us. We want to serve you as much as is possible.

What types of food is included on a Whetstone Adventure?

We employ a combination of fresh foods and freeze-dried foods. Laws restrict cans and bottles. Our tendency is to over-supply so that you are nourished and satisfied.

Can you help us with route planning?

Yes, we can help. Please indicate on your application your groups goals and abilities. Early application is the key and as time draws near to the date some entry points may not be available. Permits are on a first-come basis and certain times of the year are more popular.

Do you offer shorter adventure trips?

We can accommodate trips of any length. One-week trips are the suggested length for groups but we will do everything we can to meet your needs.

Guided versus non-guided, which type of adventure is right for me?

Our goal as a ministry is to not only guide the wilderness experience but to offer encouragement from the Word of God. We can provide materials to guide your group leader through some Bible mediations and devotionals or you can provide your own. I believe we can all prepare groups that have had no experience to find their way through the wilderness. We provide the maps, safety equipment (satellite instruments to contact help if needed) and training to be able to do the trip with your own leader. Our mission is first to honor the Lord through this work and allow each person to spend personal time with the Lord. We are not a business with a monetary goal but a ministry with a goal of spiritual encouragement and transformation.

Does Whetstone offer shorter trips?

Yes. Whetstone can accommodate any customized trip length from one day up to two weeks.

Our Mission

Whetstone exists to glorify God in our calling to service.

We take opportunities to minister as they become available. Outdoor wilderness adventures are one of our core services. We also provide teaching, preaching, camps, fishing trips, family camps, construction skills camp, canoe paddle workshops are some of the ways we minister.

We attempt to build men up in a world that tears men down and destroys families. The Bible is taught to encourage men in their calling as Christian fathers and husbands.
Whetstone uses the outdoors “classroom” to encourage men in their relationships with God and with their families.

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