Wilderness Outfitters, the oldest established Boundary Waters Canoe Area outfitter in Ely, Minnesota, began operation in 1921.The outfitter began as a corporation owned by a group of shareholders; since the outfitters inception several long-time Ely residents, including the current owner, Gary Gotchnik, have owned the business. Gary's history with Wilderness Outfitters began long before becoming owner, as a Boundary Waters fishing guide. In 1985 Gary became part owner of Wilderness Outfitters with partner, Jim Pascoe. Since 1995 Gary and family (wife Marcy, and 2 children Maren and Krista) have been sole owners of Wilderness Outfitters.
Over its 80 year history, Wilderness Outfitters has seen and adapted to many changes in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and Canada's Quetico Provincial Park. In 1964 the Federal Wilderness Act was passed, an act that was responsible for much of the far-reaching acts of protection for the BWCAW, greatly restricting motor use, lumber activity, and eliminating lodges and private residence in the park. With the 1964 Wilderness Act legislation, Wilderness Outfitters' historic Basswood Lodge ceased operation. Some of our long-time guests may remember Basswood Lodge in its heyday when up to 18 fishing guides took groups out to fish for trophy Bass, Walleye, Northern Pike, and Lake Trout on Basswood Lake.
We Look forward to continuing our tradition by of outfitting and guiding you on your next visit to Ely, Minnesota and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA).