Located in the heart of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, Piragis Northwoods Company outfits excursioneers with all the necessities for embarking into the wily wilderness of northern Minnesota. Before outfitting adventurers, experienced outdoorsmen assist in planning routes and campsites to meet outdoorsy goals and wolf-man-sighting desires. Campers then rent accoutrements such as lightweight Kevlar canoes ($30+/day), solo or tandem kayaks ($30+/day), and Kevlar paddles ($6/day). Alternatively, woodspeople can be fully outfitted with canoes, paddles, packed food, tent and tarp, packs, witch repellent, sleeping bags, and a plethora of other gear ($100/person/day).
The pristine quality of the remote trails and clearings winding through the Superior National Forest gives new meaning to the word white. There are no people, no cars, and no buildings towering overhead to mar the scene, framed only by majestic cedar groves. The frosty trail and snow-heavy branches whoosh silently past?the only sounds you hear are the rhythmic mushing of the alaskan huskies in front of you and the almost synchronized beating of your own heart. After a meal cooked over a campfire, your trip might end with some hot-tub time, a fireside chat in a private lake house, or listening to the dogs' nighttime chorus of "Hungry Like the Wolf" as they bed down outside a cozy, heated yurt.
It was the vision of husband-and-wife team Peter McClelland and Chris Hegenbarth to create such experiences for beginning and advanced sledders of all ages. They founded White Wilderness Sled Dog Adventures to share their love of outdoor activities in general?including camping and fishing?and of sled dogs in particular. As a seasoned guide and cofounder of the Ely Area Mushing Association, McClelland is dedicated to the welfare of sled dogs everywhere. Hegenbarth handles the details, including the baking of the cookies that accompany each sled driver on his or her journey. In the National Geographic book The 100 Best Vacations to Enrich Your Life, author Pam Grout says McClelland and Hegenbarth "don't just sell you a dogsled trip?they adopt you for a few days," making sure guests are warm and well fed.
The couple has gathered together some of the most experienced dog drivers in the north woods, including licensed EMT Erik Danielson and nine-year dogsledding veteran Theo Theobald, who prides herself on seeing more moose than traffic lights in any given month. The company is one of the few sled-dog trip providers that trains its dogs year-round; staffers spend off-season months teaching the dogs to run through an obstacle course and playing hours of Twister to improve their agility.
For Paradise Outfitters founder Deron DoRight, fishing trips aren't just a hobby, they are his livelihood. As a career angler, Deron has the technical knowledge and hands-on experience necessary to helm Paradise Outfitters' weeklong vacations, half- and full-day fishing trips on Rainy Lake, and two-day excursions at a local lake of the patron's choosing. Though the potential trophies change with the seasons⎯from walleye to pike to smallmouth bass, or the elusive swimming snowman⎯Deron’s aim is always the same: to help passengers enjoy the beauty of the lake and the sport of fishing, perched atop a comfortable 20-foot Ranger. When the waves ice over, two-person aluminum fishing houses and portable shelters shield anglers from chilly winds.
The seasoned anglers behind Red Lake Outdoors grew up fishing the same private, wild waters where they now take their clients. They've set out on small boats under the August sun, and navigated their way across ice-covered water in the middle of January. On a series of guided, hands-on fishing trips, they teach others how to do the same. The half- and full-day excursions explore every inch of the Red Lake region's 27 lakes and their miles of pristine, undeveloped shoreline?from hidden coves to calm, open waters, to that one spot where cousin Dan swore he saw a shark. In the winter, guides also demonstrate how to cut holes in the ice above prime fishing spots. Trips pit visitors against fish such as rainbow trout, bass, pike, and crappie, and include gear and lunch.
Masters of all-season fishing and camping, Fishermen?s Wharf Resort splashes the calm waters of Lake Mille Lacs with winter and summer activities. Situated on 90 acres of land on the southeastern shore?s Big Point, Fishermen?s Wharf rests in a protected harbor on a sandy, scorpion-free beach. From this point, it launches chartered fishing trips in the summer and rents ice fishing cabins in the winter.
During chartered fishing trips, guides lead groups across Mille Lacs in search of walleye, Bass, Northern Pike, and Loch Ness monsters. They also explain the seasonal movements of the fish, how to select the best tackle, and how to use electronic detection equipment. Once the lake has frozen over, ice fishing cabins rest on fishing spots where fish are known to congregate and watch humans hold sticks. The cabins feature nine fishing holes, 6 bunk beds, bathrooms, an underwater camera, a TV, DVD player, and microwave oven. Throughout the year, RV camping spots invite visitors to spend a night in rustic surroundings, while an on-site restaurant, Toucan's, which is also where customers check-in, serves warm meals in full view of the lake.
Your Boat Rentals helps people enjoy the benefits of boat ownership without hassles such as towing, cleaning, and repairs. The club maintains a fleet of boats, including leisurely Luxury Bennington pontoons that can hold up to 11 people. Renters need only make online reservations for one of these vessels, arrive at their dock of choice, and speed away with a fully fueled and clean boat. Six different lakes set the stage for these aquatic excursions, giving families many boating options. On any given day, Your Boat Rentals' vessels carry passengers across a number of lakes including White Bear Lake, Forest Lake, Waconia, Prior Lake, and Lake Minnetonka.