A Complete Guide to Renting Canoes in Algonquin Park

Approx. 15 Minute Read

If you’re planning a canoe trip in Algonquin Park, you’re going to need a canoe. Most people will invest in their own tripping gear like tents, tarps, cook sets, etc. but many people decide to rent a canoe instead of buying one. Canoes can be very expensive and due to their size, they can be difficult to store throughout the year (good luck if you live in an apartment!). Renting a canoe can also be convenient since you can get it delivered right to your campground or access point, and you don’t need to worry about any maintenance for the boat throughout its lifespan.

There are plenty of reasons to purchase a canoe, but this article is going to focus on renting canoes in Algonquin Park. What type of canoes can you rent? Where can you rent them from? How much will it cost? We’ll answer all of those questions plus morejust keep on reading.

Renting Canoes in Algonquin Park - Close up of a blue solo canoe and canoe paddle

1. Different Types of Canoes to Rent

One of the first questions you’ll want to ask yourself when renting a canoe is what type of canoe you actually want for the trip. Here are some of the key variables to consider when choosing your rental canoe for a trip in Algonquin Park.

Number of Seats: Do you want to rent a solo canoe, a tandem canoe (two seats), or a three seat canoe. Solo canoes are popular for solo trippers of course, but they’re also popular when you have an odd number of people in your group and prefer to have the extra boat with extra space, rather than squeezing into a three seat boat. Three seat boats are the least popular since they don’t offer as much storage space for your gear, relative to the number of people. However, if it works for your group, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with renting a canoe with three seats.

Canoe Length: This will usually be determined based on the number of seats in the canoe, but you may still have a bit of choice. For example, solo canoes usually range between 14′ – 16′, while tandem canoes are usually 16′ – 17′. The length of the canoe, combined with other specs, can affect its overall storage space, along with its speed and the way it handles on the water. But we’re not going to get into the details of canoe specs right now because that can be a whole article in itself. For now, don’t worry too much about the length, I’d recommend focusing on the other variables that are more important.

Canoe Weight: Speaking of important variables, this is probably the most important one to consider. If you’re going to be doing a lot of portaging, you absolutely want to spend the extra bit of money to get an ultralight boat. Most outfitters have a big range of canoes that you can rent, and the lightest options will usually hover around 35lbs. If the boat is going to be carried on your shoulders, you’ll thank yourself later for going as light as possible. If you’re doing a trip without any portages, or with very few portages, you can get away with renting a heavier canoe.

Canoe Brands & Models: I won’t get into too much detail in this article about the different canoe brands or models, but it’s worth noting that canoes come in all shapes and sizes which are suited for different purposes. For example Prospector boats are generally considered good all-around canoes, but won’t be as fast or efficient as some other models. Symmetrical boats are good if you’re planning on solo paddling a tandem boat because you can turn the boat around and sit in the front seat facing backwards. This method of paddling solo wouldn’t be ideal in an asymmetrical canoe. Just know that different options exist and you can always ask the outfitter that you’re renting from which canoe they recommend for your specific trip.

There’s a lot more that can be said about the different types of canoes that can be rented, but this is a simple overview to hopefully get you thinking about the most important questions. For more detail and specific inquiries, I’d recommend speaking with an outfitter directly.

Renting Canoes in Algonquin Park - Red Swift Shearwater 16' solo canoe with paddle

2. Places to Rent a Canoe in Algonquin Park

If you don’t already own a canoe, you’re probably looking at where you can rent a canoe in Algonquin Park. I often see the question “Who is the best outfitter to rent from in Algonquin Park?” and while many people are quick to give recommendations, the correct answer is almost always “It depends”.

Well, what does it depend on?

First, it depends on location. Algonquin Park is massive. 7,653 km2 type of massive. Certain outfitters will be the most convenient choice depending on where you will be starting your trip within the park. Of course you can rent from any outfitter you want, but it may require a ton of extra time and/or money to coordinate getting the canoe to your access point if the outfitter isn’t close by. Generally speaking, each access point will have a few specific outfitters that service the area, and you’ll almost always be best off renting from them.

There are a handful of outfitters located outside of the Algonquin Park region that provide service to the park, but listed below are the main outfitting options that people consider when renting canoes for Algonquin Park.

Algonquin Outfitters

Locations: Oxtongue, Opeongo, Brent

Areas Serviced: The Oxtongue and Opeongo locations provide service to campgrounds and access points along Highway 60, and the Brent location provides service to the Cedar Lake access point.

Website: algonquinoutfitters.com

Algonquin Bound

Locations: Dwight, Madawaska, Pembroke

Areas Serviced: The Dwight and Madawaska locations provide service to campgrounds and access points along Highway 60, and the Pembroke location provides service to the east side of the park (Barron Canyon and surrounding).

Website: algonquinbound.com

The Portage Store

Locations: Canoe Lake in Algonquin Park

Areas Serviced: The Portage Store is located directly at Canoe Lake (Access #5) inside the park. It offers service to other access points along Highway 60, but they are most popular for trips starting from Canoe Lake (#5) or Smoke Lake (#6).

Website: portagestore.com

Opeongo Outfitters

Locations: Opeongo Lake in Algonquin Park

Areas Serviced: Opeongo Outfitters is located directly at Lake Opeongo (Access #11) inside the park and also offers service to nearby surrounding access points and campgrounds.

Website: opeongooutfitters.com

Algonquin Basecamp

Locations: Kearney

Areas Serviced: Tim River (Access #2), Magnetawan Lake (Access #3), and Rain Lake (Access #4)

Website: algonquinbasecamp.ca

Canoe Algonquin

Locations: Kearney

Areas Serviced: Tim River (Access #2), Magnetawan Lake (Access #3), and Rain Lake (Access #4)

Website: canoealgonquin.com

Voyageur Quest Outfitting

Locations: Kawawaymog Lake in Algonquin Park

Areas Serviced: Kawawaymog Lake (Access #1)

Website: voyageuroutfitting.com

Northern Wilderness Outfitters

Locations: Kawawaymog Lake in Algonquin Park

Areas Serviced: Kawawaymog Lake (Access #1)

Website: northernwilderness.com

Algonquin North Wilderness Outfitters

Locations: Mattawa

Areas Serviced: Kiosk Lake (Access #29)

Website: algonquinnorth.com

Algonquin Portage

Locations: Pembroke

Areas Serviced: East side of park (Barron Canyon and surrounding)

Website: algonquinportage.com

Pine Grove Point

Locations: Harcourt

Areas Serviced: Kingscote Lake (Access #15) and Benoir Lake (Access #15a)

Website: pinegrovepoint.com

3. Choosing the Right Outfitter For Your Canoe Rentals

The first and most important thing to consider when choosing the right outfitter for your canoe rental, is where they are located. You’ll most likely want to rent your canoes from one of the outfitters that services the area that you’ll be starting your trip. Once you have that figured out, you’ll still have a few outfitters to choose from. Since we covered the different locations in the previous section, let’s keep going and look at the other things to consider.

Delivery Options: Most outfitters will deliver your canoes to specific campgrounds and access points. Depending on where you plan on starting your trip, delivery is a really important thing to consider. Delivery might be free for nearby locations, or it may have a charge associated with it. Some rates may include return trip deliveries, while some may have a rate per direction. If you know that you’ll need to have the canoes delivered, make sure you speak to the different outfitters and find out i) if they deliver to your access point, ii) how much it will cost, iii) does it include return pick up as well, and iv) what time it will be delivered. The last point ‘what time it will be delivered’ is especially important if you plan on getting an early start on the water. For example, if the outfitter will deliver to your access point by 10:00 AM, you know that your trip won’t start before that. 

Types of Canoes Available: Most outfitters offer a wide range of canoes for rent, varying in weights, sizes, and seat number. However, not every outfitter has the same fleet and options available. For example, only a handful of outfitters rent lightweight solo canoes, and I find Algonquin Outfitters tends to have the largest fleet of solo canoes available. For tandem canoes, The Portage Store carries a 16′ H2O Pro Lite Carbon, weighing only 33lbs. As far as I know, that’s the lightest tandem boat available for rent in the park! It comes with a hefty rental price tag, but if you’re trying to shed as much weight as possible, it’s a great option to consider.

Canoe Accessories: If you’re renting a canoe, you’ll also need paddles, PFD’s, and a safety kit. Make sure you find out if your canoe rental includes these items for free with the rental, or if there will be an additional charge for them.

Additional Outfitting Services: This article is focused on canoe rentals, but you may need to rent some other gear as well. Most outfitters offer rental options for tents, food barrels, and other items. Many will offer a ‘complete outfitting’ package as well, for trippers who don’t own any gear whatsoever. If you know that you’ll need to rent gear in addition to the canoe, make sure you take a look at the options offered by each outfitter.

Accommodations: Not everyone that canoe trips in Algonquin Park lives nearby in Ontario; in fact  Algonquin Park is a very popular tourist destination for people all over the world. Some outfitters offer accommodations in addition to canoe rentalsif you’re travelling from far away and need accommodations before a trip, you can try finding an outfitter that offers pre-trip accommodations.

Price: We’ll talk about this more in the ‘How Much Does it Cost to Rent a Canoe in Algonquin Park’ section below, but price is something you should compare between outfitters. Most outfitters are competitively priced with each other, but you should look at the total cost of your rental, including extra fees for accessories (paddles, PDF’s, safety kit), campground or access point delivery, etc.

 

Renting Canoes in Algonquin Park - Yellow H2O Canoe loaded with gear on beach landing after finishing a portage

4. How Much Does it Cost to Rent a Canoe in Algonquin Park

Renting a canoe will probably be the most expensive part of your trip in Algonquin Park, though it’s still much cheaper than buying one. The cost to rent a canoe in Algonquin Park tends to be very similar across the different outfitters, with some minor price differences. It’s important to remember that there are a few other variables that will make up the total cost of your canoe rental. For example, are paddles, PFD’s, and safety kits included in the price or is there an additional fee for these items? Is there a delivery/pickup fee to get the canoes delivered to your campground or access point? Are there multi-day discounts for longer rentals? Does the outfitter offer a partial refund if the canoes are returned early?

In addition to those questions above, the price of your canoe rental in Algonquin Park will also largely depend on the type of canoe that you’re renting. Typically, the lighter the canoe, the more expensive it will cost to rent (but your back will thank you after those long portages!). Each outfitter will also have their own policies in place for deposits, modifying reservations, and cancellations. 

Let’s take a look at some of the pricing options from some of the outfitters mentioned earlier in this article.

*The prices below were taken from the outfitters’ websites March 2022 and may have changed by the time you view this article. The pricing is meant for illustrative purposes only and does not represent the full offerings from each outfitter. To see the full offerings and rental prices for each outfitter please visit their website directly.

Algonquin Outfitters Oxtongue
Expedition Kevlar – $40.98/day
Superlight Kevlar – $45.98/day
Solo Kevlar – $41.98/day
*Rentals of 5 to 7 days receive 15% discount
*Rentals of 8+ days receive 25% discount
*Includes paddles and safety kit; PFD’s are extra
*Delivery along Highway 60 ranges from Free to $30 (depending on access point)

Algonquin Bound
Expedition Kevlar – $40.95/day
Superlight Kevlar – $45.95/day
Solo Kevlar – $41.95/day
*Rentals of 5 to 7 days receive 15% discount
*Rentals of 8+ days receive 25% discount
*Includes paddles and safety kit; PFD’s are extra
*Delivery across the park (east/west) ranges from Free to $109 (depending on access point)

The Portage Store
Expedition Kevlar – $52.95/day
Ultralight Kevlar – $57.95/day
Solo Canoe – $48.95/day
*Rentals of 5+ days receive 15% discount
*Includes paddles and safety kit; PFD’s are extra
*Delivery is free to campgrounds in July and August, and $10 per rental otherwise or free if the rental is 3+ days

The three examples above show the typical rates for renting canoes in Algonquin Park. As you can see there isn’t too much variation between the different outfitters. The Portage Store is priced higher than the other outfitters in the example above, however they’re located directly at Canoe Lake (Access #5) so they are a convenient option if you plan to start your trip from Canoe Lake or across the highway at Smoke Lake (Access #6).

It’s important to remember that different outfitters service different areas of Algonquin Park. Depending on where you start your trip, the price of canoe rentals may vary. Typically, the cost to rent a canoe along Highway 60 will be slightly higher than other areas of the park. It’s also important to calculate the total cost of the rental by factoring in any delivery fees, PFD’s, multi-day discounts, etc. 

As a simple general rule of thumb, canoe rentals in Algonquin park will cost approximately $40 per canoe per day. 

Renting Canoes in Algonquin Park - Overturned yellow H2O Canoe at front of campsite in Algonquin Park

5. Canoe Rentals – Pickup vs. Delivery

If you’ve decided to rent a canoe in Algonquin Park, you may be thinking “how the heck do I get the canoe to my access point?” Some outfitters are located directly at access points so no pickup or delivery is necessary. However, most of the outfitters aren’t located directly at an access point, so you’ll either need to pick up the canoe yourself and transport it to the access point, or have the outfitter deliver it directly. Let’s dive deeper and see which is the right option for you.

Reasons to Pick Up Your Canoe From the Outfitter

There are a few main reasons why you’d want to pick up your canoes from the outfitter instead of having it delivered. The first and most common, is the price. There’s no additional fee if you’re picking up the canoe yourself, so it will help lower the total price of your canoe rental.

Another reason you may want to pick up your canoes from the outfitter is if you plan on grabbing some additional supplies. Most outfitters have a small shop with some gear, snacks, and souvenirs—if you stop to pick up the canoe, you can kill two birds with one stone and browse the shop while you’re there.

One overlooked benefit of picking up the canoe yourself is the flexibility of time. Depending on where you are starting your trip, the outfitter may not deliver the canoe until the late morning or early afternoon. If you want to get on the water early, you may benefit from stopping by the outfitter right when they open, picking up the canoe, and then heading straight to the access point.

Reasons to Have Your Canoe Delivered to the Campground or Access Point

The number one reason most people choose to have their canoes delivered to the campground or access point is for the convenience. Maybe you don’t have the right gear and are not comfortable tying down the canoe to the top of your car. Maybe you just don’t want to worry about the transportation of the canoe and you’d rather show up to the access point and have it waiting for you. There’s no denying that it’s much more convenient to have your canoe rental delivered rather than picking it up yourself.

Even if you get the canoe delivered to the campground or access point, you will likely need to stop by the outfitter anyways to pick up your paddles, PFD’s, safety kit, and to sign the rental waiver. If you don’t require any of the additional gear and you just need to sign the rental waiver, some outfitters may let you do this digitally so you can avoid stopping by the location. This would add to the convenience factor because you could then drive straight from your house to the access point.

Another reason you may choose to have your canoe delivered to the campground or access point is if you plan on renting several canoes. If you’re renting more canoes than you have space on top of your vehicle, delivery may be the only option for you.

The majority of people do choose to have their canoes delivered to the campground or access point instead of picking up. As long as you don’t mind the additional fee that may be associated with the delivery, it would be the option that I recommend.

*When you’re inquiring about delivery with an outfitter remember to ask if the delivery fee includes both delivery and pickup! If you want to learn how to tie down a canoe to your vehicle, you can always ask for a one-way pickup. For example, you can pick up the canoe at the start of your trip (the outfitter will help you with the tie down while you’re at their location) and then have the outfitter pick up the canoe from the campground or access point when you are finished, so you don’t have to put the canoe back on your car without assistance.

Renting Canoes in Algonquin Park - Red Swift Shearwater canoe at rocky landing at the front of a campsite in Algonquin Park

6. How Early Do I Need to Reserve My Canoe?

All of the info throughout this article is only useful if there are still canoes available to rent! Don’t worry, most outfitters have a large fleet of canoes and you typically don’t need to be concerned about availability. However, there are some exceptions. 

Solo canoe rentals have become more popular in recent years, but they still represent a much smaller market than tandem canoes, and this means that outfitters will have a limited supply of solo canoes in their fleet. If you know that you want to rent a solo canoe, you’ll want to make your reservation as early as possible. The same thing can be said for ultralight canoes—many people will spend extra to rent an ultralight canoe, but inventory of ultralight canoes may be limited. If you know that you for sure want to rent an ultralight canoe, you should make your reservation as early as possible.

What does ‘as early as possible’ mean? If you’re planning a trip for peak summer season in July, August or early September, you should consider making your reservation several months in advance. Making a reservation 3 to 4 months in advance is usually a safe bet that any canoe you want to rent will still be available. You can definitely wait until a little bit closer to the start of your trip, but you may find out that the canoe you want isn’t available so you may need to settle for a backup option. If you’re planning a trip in the off season (May, June, late September, October) the demand for canoe rentals isn’t as high so you can usually wait until a few weeks prior to the start date of your trip to make your canoe reservation.

My recommendation would be to reserve your canoe as soon as you’ve booked your canoe trip. Even better, give the outfitter a call to make sure the canoe you want is still available, then book your canoe trip with Ontario Parks, then call back and confirm your reservation with the outfitter. Most outfitters have a really flexible cancellation policy, so it’s best to reserve your canoe as early as you can. 

Renting Canoes in Algonquin Park - Swift solo canoe loaded with gear ready to start a paddle in Algonquin Park

7. Conclusion

Renting a canoe in Algonquin Park may seem like a daunting task at first. The park has so many access points and a ton of different outfitters that service these access points. But if you take it one step at a time, it’s a pretty straightforward process. First, decide where you are going to start your trip. Then find the outfitters that service the area. There will usually only be a few options for each access point, so once you have it narrowed down it will be much easier to compare options and prices on the outfitters’ websites. Remember to factor in things like PFD rentals, delivery fees, and multi-day discounts. If you ever have any questions, pick up the phone and give the outfitter a call, they’re always super friendly and happy to help!