Algonquin Park Canoe Rentals: How to Choose Your Next Outfitter

Guided canoe trip in Algonquin Park - paddling a green canoe on blue lake with the sun shining in the background

Algonquin Provincial Park is the most popular destination for canoe camping. As the first provincial park in Ontario, Algonquin covers over 2,000 square kilometres and offers more than 7,000 kilometres of canoe routes. With a park so vast and having so many routes, there are a ton of options for Algonquin canoe rentals.

As an avid canoeist living in an apartment without a car, I have yet to buy my own canoe (because how would I transport it?). This means whenever I go canoeing, I have to rely on an Algonquin Park canoe rental to supply me with a canoe.

In this post, I’m going to introduce you to Algonquin Provincial Park and the outfitters servicing the park. Hopefully, by the end of this post, you’ll know what to look for in an outfitter and how to choose the best one for the trip you want to take.

Algonquin Canoe Rental: What to Look For

What types of canoes do they have available?

Different canoe routes call for different types of canoes, and this is something to ask a potential outfitter about. Each of the outfitters that offer canoe rentals in Algonquin has a variety of canoes available. However, depending on when you book your trip, they may have limited availability.

If your canoe route has a lot of portages: You want a canoe that is made from a light material and the lightest material for canoes is Kevlar. So when booking your canoe, ask if the outfitter rents Kevlar canoes.

If your canoe route has whitewater: At a bare minimum, if there will be rapids you want a tough boat. Kevlar isn’t strong enough; you’ll want one made of ABS (a durable plastic). Ideally, you also want a canoe that is outfitted with airbags, thigh straps and knee pads.

If there are three people paddling: As the outfitter is they have any three-seat canoes. These canoes tend to be longer (18 ft) and have a seat in the middle, so the middle paddler can sit on a proper seat rather than a backpack or the hull of the canoe.

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Where can you pick up / drop off the canoe rental?

As I said above, Algonquin Provincial Park is absolutely massive and not all outfitters service the entirety of the park. So you’ll need to consider your pick up and drop off location when choosing an Algonquin canoe rental.

If you have a vehicle with a roof rack: You can pick up the canoe from the outfitter’s shop and then drive it wherever you want to go. But if you don’t have a vehicle on which you can transport a canoe, you’ll need the outfitter to bring the canoe to your starting point.

If you are starting on a lake with an outfitter: Some places that offer Algonquin canoe rentals have their operations right on a particular lake. For example, The Portage Store is situated right on Canoe Lake, a popular starting point for novice canoe routes. Similarly, Algonquin Outfitters canoe rental is right on Lake Opeongo.

If you are starting on a lake with a campground: There are several campgrounds along Highway 60 that have lake access. Outfitters like The Portage Store will deliver your canoe to the campground for you.

If you are starting at a lesser-known access point: Some of the outfitters will deliver your canoe for you. In most cases, delivery to lesser-known access points requires a delivery fee. Algonquin Bound and Algonquin Outfitters delivery to the largest number of access points.

Do you want a canoe rental, full outfitting or a guided trip?

If you have your own gear and experience: In this case, you just need the canoe rental. Choose your outfitter based on the criteria above (boat availability and proximity to access point).

If you have experience but no gear: In this case, you likely want full outfitting. This includes the canoe, paddle and life jacket, in addition to tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, barrels and cookware. There is often an option to have all food prep done for you as well.

If you have no gear and no experience: If you haven’t really canoed before, I recommend taking a guided canoe trip before venturing out on your own. That way, you can be introduced to the different paddling strokes, navigation and how to set up your gear. A few of the outfitters offer guided trips, most notably Voyageur Quest and Algonquin Outfitters.

Read More: 8 Incredible Guided Canoe Trips in Ontario (according to a canoe guide)

Algonquin Park Canoe Rentals: Comparison Table

Further in the post, I do a full comparison of the different outfitters that offer Algonquin canoe rentals. To simplify things, I’ve also summarized the outfitters in the table below.

Note: As different types of canoes come with different prices, I’ve used the 17 ft Ultralight Kevlar for the price comparison because all outfitters offered this canoe.

Outfitter NameAlgonquin OutfittersThe Portage StoreVoyageur Quest
LocationOxtongue Lake, Lake Opeongo and Brent LakeCanoe LakeNorthwest Corner of Algonquin Park
Canoe Rental Rate$45.00$54.95$49.00
Full OutfittingYesYesYes
Guided TripsYesYes – custom trips onlyYes – wide selection of trips from 3 – 14 days
Shuttle Service / Canoe DeliveryYes – to 11 access points in the park for a feeYes – but only to campgroundsYes
Best ForCanoe trips leaving from Brent / Opeongo LakeCanoe trips leaving from Canoe LakeGuided canoe trips
Outfitter NameAlgonquin BoundOpeongo OutfittersAlgonquin Basecamp
LocationNortheast Corner of Algonquin ParkSouth of Algonquin Park, near WhitneySouthwest of Algonquin Park, near Huntsville
Canoe Rental Rate$45.95$42.00$43.95
Full OutfittingYesYesYes
Guided TripsYesNoNo
Shuttle Service / Canoe DeliveryYes – to 21 access points in the park for a feeYes – but only to campgroundsYes – to 3 access points for a fee
Best ForCanoe Trips near Barron Canyon or Petawawa RiverTrips departing from Magnetewan, Tim River and Rain Lake

Algonquin Park Canoe Rentals: Map

I’ve highlighted where each of the outfitters is located on the map below. I’ve also highlighted the two Algonquin Provincial Park gates (the question mark icons in black).

Algonquin Park Canoe Rentals: Outfitter Summary

Below I’ve provided a short overview on each of the outfitters that offer Algonquin Provincial Park canoe rentals. All of the information is taken directly from their websites, and I’ve supplemented it with my personal experience where applicable.

Algonquin Outfitters

Website: Algonquin Outfitters

Location: Algonquin Outfitters has a location right on Opeongo Lake and Brent Lake (in Algonquin Provincial Park) and on Oxtongue Lake (directly to the southeast of the park). In addition, they also have a retail location in Huntsville and Bracebridge.

Rental Rates for a 17 ft Ultralight Kevlar: $45.00

Canoe Delivery: Algonquin Outfitters will deliver canoes to 11 different access points within Algonquin Provincial Park. Depending on the location, the delivery fee is either free or between $20 and $30.

Options for Guided Canoe Trips:

Algonquin Outfitters has the widest footprint in the park, and as such, they are the most popular option for Algonquin canoe rentals. In addition to regular rentals, they also have a good selection of fully outfitted and guided canoe trips.

I typically use Algonquin Outfitters for my canoe rentals and I always give them a call and ask for advice when I’m planning a canoe route. Currently, I’m in the planning stage for my next canoe trip, and I’ll be using them for my rental.

The Portage Store

Website: The Portage Store

Location: Canoe Lake

Rental Rates for a 17 ft Ultralight Kevlar: $54.95

Canoe Delivery: The Portage Store offers delivery to four different campgrounds, however they don’t do delivery to additional access points.

Options for Guided Canoe Trips: The Portage Store doesn’t offer guided trips the way that Voyageur Quest or Algonquin Outfitters does. You can hire a guide for a day rate.

I don’t have as much experience with The Portage store as I do with Algonquin Outfitters, however all of my experiences with them have been positive. I had a canoe rental with them this season, however I had to cancel at the last minute because of COVID-19. They were really accommodating with changing the reservation.

This has nothing to do with canoe rentals, but my favourite thing about The Portage Store is their restaurant. After a few days out in the backcountry, I like a hamburger and cold ice cream cone (and maybe a milkshake too). I make a point to stop there whenever I’m in the park.

Voyageur Quest

Website: Voyageur Quest and Voyageur Quest Outfitting

Location: Just outside the northwest corner of Algonquin Provincial Park.

Rental Rates for a 17 ft Ultralight Kevlar: N/A

Canoe Delivery:

Options for Guided Canoe Trips: Yes – a wide range of trips ranging from 3 to 14 days

Voyageur Quest offers guided trips in addition to Algonquin canoe rentals and outfitting through Voyageur Quest Outfitting. (These are two separate websites by the same people.)

There are both day trips and overnight trips, with a wide range of trips from 3-day to 14-days long. One nice thing about going with Voyageur Quest is that they have some guided trips in the northwest pocket of the park, which is a less-travelled region than the routes leaving from the lakes off of Highway 60.

Also, as someone who loves backcountry cooking, they go seriously gourmet for their meals. So if you like to eat, you’ll have a great time on one of these trips.

Since I don’t do guided trips, I haven’t worked with Voyageur Quest personally.

Algonquin Bound

Website: Algonquin Bound

Location: Northeast corner of Algonquin Park, near Petawawa

Rental Rates for a 17 ft Ultralight Kevlar: $45.95

Canoe Delivery: Algonquin Bound offers canoe delivery and shuttle services to 21 different access points in Algonquin.

Options for Guided Canoe Trips: Algonquin Bound has the option for canoeists to build a custom guided trip up to five days long.

Algonquin Bound is best positioned for canoe trips in the northeast corner of the park, especially for trips on the Petawawa River. In addition, they deliver canoes to the greatest number of access points. This means they are likely your best option for an Algonquin Park canoe rental to an obscure lake.

Just outside the park on the road to Barron Canyon, they have a lodge you can stay at the night before your canoe trip departs. When my family paddled the Petawawa River last summer, we stayed here the night before our trip.

Opeongo Outfitters

Website: Opeongo Outfitters

Location: Just south of Algonquin Park, near Whitney

Rental Rates for a 17 ft Ultralight Kevlar: $42.00

Canoe Delivery: Yes but along to campgrounds along Highway 60

Options for Guided Canoe Trips: No

Opeongo Outfitters is actually the oldest outfitter offering Algonquin Park canoe rentals; they’ve been in business since 1936! They offer a good selection of different canoes (at the lowest price). Canoe delivery is limited in that they only deliver to campgrounds along the Highway 60 corridor.

I haven’t used Opeongo Outfitters for canoe rentals in Algonquin Park, however, I have been to their retail location which is quite nice.

Algonquin Basecamp

Website: Algonquin Basecamp

Location: Southwest of Algonquin Park, near Huntsville

Rental Rates for a 17 ft Ultralight Kevlar: $43.95

Canoe Delivery: Yes – to Magnetawan Lake, Tim River and Rain Lake access points

Options for Guided Canoe Trips: No

Algonquin Basecamp is a family run outfitter that provides canoe rentals on the west side of Algonquin Park. Although they don’t offer guided trips, they do have extremely affordable rates for full outfitting.

One cool thing about Algonquin Basecamp is that they have a lodge you can stay at the night before your trip departs. Assuming it’s open, I’m planning to stay here before my canoe trip on the Tim River.

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