Canoeing, Camping & Kids – Best Time To Go to the Boundary Waters

Canoeing, Camping & Kids – Best Time To Go to the Boundary Waters

Moose Lake Reflections

Very Merry and Happy Holiday Greeting to all of our friends! Thank you for the memories you’ve shared with us over the years and for allowing us to be a small part of your lives. We hope you find yourself surrounded by people you love in places that bring you joy for as long as you can stand it. We hope your year was the best ever, but not nearly as perfect as next year’s going to be.

Not to sound corny, but isn’t the end of a year a perfect time for reflection? Did I do everything I wanted to accomplish? Did we see everything I wanted us to see? Did we go everywhere we wanted to go? Did we take that trip into the Boundary Waters we’ve been dreaming about for so long? Do you see where I’m going with this?

Best Time for a Boundary Waters Canoe Trip

Everyone knows a trip to the Boundary Waters is the classic family vacation every family of all sizes dreams of. It’s the flawless combination of adventure and togetherness. And, planning a fun family vacation can be a lot of fun, but it can also be stressful. You want everything to be perfect, you want everyone to have a good time and create a sack full of memories, and you don’t want to break the bank. Am I right?

A big challenge is picking a date. For some folks, the options are limited. There’s only one week in the whole summer you and your whole crew can even make the trip, so hell or high water, that’s when you make the trip. But, some folks have freedom to be selective and we’re often asked about the best time to make a trip.

I have two answers.

  1. For a fun-filled family frolic through the forest, come in August. The temperatures are warm, the fishing is great (as always), and the swarms of both bugs and people will have died down.
  2. It depends.

My second answer is it depends because maybe you can’t go in August, and it seriously depends on what kind of trip you want and all the things you hope to accomplish. To help you decide, here’s a few big things to consider.

Weather in The BWCA

BWCA Temperature

May: Still chilly. Expect temps of 35-60. Trips in May require extra layers and sleeping bags with a 3-season rating are recommended. For paddling, it’s cool enough you won’t work up too much of a sweat. If you love flannel weather and hot beverages, May’s a good choice.

June: Warm, but not hot. Temps range from low 50s to mid 70s which are perfect canoeing temperatures. Not too hot for paddling all day and nice and cool at night. You’ll still need those extra layers for sleeping through the cool nights.

July/August: Getting warmer! These mid-summer temperatures are high 50s to high 70s. Of course, mid-August is warmer than early July, and you can expect a bump in humidity as the summer progresses. Still, this is my favorite weather for paddling. I love taking day trips through this ideal summer weather. With long summer days, there’s plenty to see and do before our endless idyllic sunsets start to cool things off.

September: Things once again begin cooling off and you can pull out those flannel shirts, warm sleeping bags and hot chocolate. Look for weather to range in the mid 40s to upper 60s and look forward to cool low-sweat paddling.

Rain in the Boundary Waters

Rain is consistent throughout the summer. We get 3-4 inches every month in the summer. So, no matter when you plan on coming expect it might rain and pack accordingly. I don’t think a rainy vacation was on anyone’s Christmas List, but if you want a wilderness with 1000 flavors of green, you gotta appreciate that precipitation is part of the package.

Whenever you plan to join us, feel free to contact us ahead of your trip, and we can give you an idea of the weather forecast. Or visit this link for an idea of what kind of climate to expect – Click here for BWCA weather averages.

Best Time For BWCA Fishing

Fishing in the Boundary Waters is ideal all summer long! When you arrive at the post, join us at the routing table and we can give you all the advice you can handle.

You can also find a treasure trove of fishing insight on Dave’s Fishing Corner blog posts or give us a call and we can talk fish.

BWCA Black Flies and Bugs

I never know how to answer the question, “How are the bugs?”

The bugs are doing well (thriving) in early June, but they’re virtually nonexistent by late September.

As a good rule, when the temperatures and humidity increase, the bugs come out to play. “Bug Season” usually peaks around mid-July. Then they get bored and start going away. Cooler temperatures mean fewer bugs. So, if avoiding our tiny flying friends is your priority, May is a good time and the best time would be late August through the end of the season.

However, there are exactly 10 zillion different repellent sprays, rubs, oils, fragrances, devices, nets, traps and home remedies. The good news is they pretty much all work. Just remember this magic word: DEET.

Is The Boundary Waters Crowded?

The Boundary Waters is never crowded when compared to the throngs the wilderness areas close to big cities receive. We couldn’t really call it a “wilderness” if it was full of people, right? That being said, there are times of the year where you might see more portage traffic than others.

If you’re looking for a no-crowd trip, consider going through the Quetico Park as opposed to the U.S. side. The Canadians allow fewer groups to enter their park. Fewer groups means fewer people.

Our busiest time of year is mid-July to early August. This is when we have our largest number of groups as well as our largest-sized groups. This is when Boy Scouts and other large youth groups like to make their treks into the woods before school starts up.

Of course, the Boundary Waters is Huge! It’s over 1,000,000 acres in size with more 1,000+ lakes. You can come any time in the summer, and we can find you a place where you’ll be virtual isolation. Just keep in mind, if you come in mid-July to early August you might have to travel a bit more.

Custom BWCA Canoe Trip Planning

From the first day in May until our North Woods again transforms into a winter wonderland, you can find your perfect vacation in the Boundary Waters.  We’d love to help answer your questions, help you get permits and get you set up.

Have a Happy New Year!


For more information on BWCA Family Canoe Trips, click here, or call us at 218-365-5837

classic bwca canoe trip