Woodland Caribou Provincial Park – Trip Planning

For a few years now I have been wanting to go canoe tripping in Woodland Caribou Provincial Park.  Over the past year I have mentioned it a few times here on this website.  It’s on my to do list, to be sure.

Recently I have been taking a hard look at doing a September trip to Woodland Caribou Provincial Park (WCPP) and exploring some options that are open to me.  When I say options I mean the following; fly in, shuttle in, or drive myself in.

I am having a hard time deciding which method I want to use getting my butt and gear into the park.  And while I want to go solo, my wife is strongly encouraging me to go with at least one other person.

Woodland Caribou Provincial Park – Go Expensive Or Go Cheap!

WCPP is roughly the same size of the BWCA (WCPP is just a little bigger).  Where the BWCA gets around 250,000 canoe paddlers per year, the WCPP only get around 1,000.  That’s a big difference!  For people looking to get away from others and into a deep wilderness setting, WCPP is the place to go.  I want to experience that, and would love to do it alone on a solo canoe camping trip.

Going Cheap!  Driving Myself To WCPP

From where I live in Wisconsin I can drive to Leano Lake, one of the put in locations for WCPP, in about twelve hours.  That includes stops for gas and food.  By the time I travel to Leano Lake I would be in a poor mood to portage my canoe and gear into WCPP…  likely I would stop in Red Lake, Ontario to spend the night.  That way I could have a fresh start into Woodland Caribou Provincial Park first light the next day.

All in all, loading up my canoe (Old Town Guide 119) and tossing my gear into my Jeep Renegade and driving to the Leano Lake is by far the cheapest way make this trip.  Gas, food, maybe a hotel or two, and permits:  I estimate $350 to $450.

Driving From Red Lake To Leano Lake

From what I have read online it is only around 65 kilometers from Red Lake to the Leano Lake access point.  The road is a logging road that can easily be in poor shape and sometimes only wide enough for one vehicle for long stretches.  I have also read that the road can be brutal on a vehicle!  Red Lake Outfitters buys new vehicles every year or two for their shuttling of clients.  That should tell you something… it did me.

While my Jeep Renegade is a tough little beast, I must admit I’m hesitant to push it to the Leano Lake access point.  There will be washouts, steep inclines, rocky terrain, and more obstacles.  Yeah, it sounds like a fun place for a Jeep owner!  But…  I don’t like to beat on my vehicles.  Also, 85% of the trip reports I’ve read where people drove their own vehicles claim they will never do it again, and instead opt for a shuttle service.

That tells me a lot.  So while the cheap option is appealing I have to admit there is certainly peace of mind in hiring a shuttle service.

Woodland Caribou Provincial Park – Fly In Or Shuttle In?

I have to admit the thought of flying in and being dropped off by a float plane and then being picked back up at the end of my trip by a float plane is highly appealing.  The cost to do that kind of trip would set me back $1800.00, which includes all my driving costs, food costs, hotels, and the misc expenses such as permits and fishing licenses.

If I shuttled in on the ground it would be a lot cheaper.  Same situation applies above with my personal costs, but when added up with the ground shuttle fees the cost would be around $1200.00.

  • Fly in and fly back out:  $1800.00
  • Shuttle in and get shuttled back out:  $1200.00

Flying Into Woodland Caribou Provincial Park

The main perk about flying in is this:  I can get further interior into the park where less people go much faster.  If I shuttled in and then canoed for a couple days I could get close to the interior.  So there you go: Spend more and get dropped off in the middle of nowhere in the wilderness in about 30 minutes.  Or Shuttle in and canoe hard for two days to get to the same place.

Flying into Woodland Caribou Provincial Park
Flying into Woodland Caribou Provincial Park

Is the price of that worth an additional $600?  It might be to me.

The idea of that just seems like it would be lots of fun.  Adventure!  Load up all my gear into a Havilland Beaver and strap a canoe to the pontoon… Get flown into the middle of the boreal wilderness and get dropped off… watching that plane take off and fly away… and I would be all alone for several days.  Adventure!

Fly In And Then Get Shuttled Out

Another option would be to get flown into Woodland Caribou Provincial Park and then take my time canoeing back out towards a pick up access point.  From there I could be shuttled back to Red Lake.  That would cost me around $1540.00, which is of course between the two other costs.

  • Fly in and then get shuttled out:  $1540.00

Woodland Caribou Provincial Park Solitude!

The average number of canoe trippers into WCPP is around one thousand per year.  Tell ya what… fly in or shuttle in, the odds of seeing other people are pretty darn slim.  Sure, there may be people around the drive in access points, but I would likely not see anybody past the first day if I decided to go with shuttling in.

The intent of such a trip would be to find solitude.  Let’s face it, with only 1,000 or less canoe campers per season I am sure to find that quietness that can do wonders refreshing the soul.

I have all the gear I need.  Setting aside the money is certainly doable.  Now I just need to try and find the time in my already busy 2019 calendar.



TD is the owner and publisher of TD All Outdoors. He has been enjoying the outdoors since since he was a child. Over the years he has spent as much time as he can solo wilderness canoe tripping, overlanding, hiking, fishing, bushcrafting, hunting, hammock camping, and more. Aside from this blog, he also own his own coffee brand, www.folklore-coffee.com.

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