Boundary Waters FAQ – BWCA Canoe Trip Frequently Asked Questions

If you’ve never been to the Boundary Waters we understand you might have a ton of questions. Don’t worry, we can try and solve some of them through our Boundary Waters FAQ. But if you still have some unique questions we would love to hear them! We might even add them to our page!

What Is Canoe Country?

Canoe Country consists of the BWCA – Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness of northeastern Minnesota and the Quetico Provincial Park of Ontario, Canada. In total, Canoe Country contains more than 2 million acres of Northwoods wilderness with a couple of thousand lakes. Portages connect these lakes and canoe trails. As a result, opportunities also exist for hiking, kayaking, and outstanding freshwater fishing. Voyageurs crossed these routes hundreds of years ago.

How Do I Get Started When Planning My BWCA Canoe Trip?

Easy! Visit our Contact Us page and fill out our form, Request a Canoe Trip DVD for your trip or Scout trip by giving us a call at 218.365.5837 or visit our Reservations page. Otherwise if your in the research phase of your trip we always recommend visiting our Trip Planning pages on the website. Here you’ll find lots of information on routes, food planning, and much more!

How Are The Bugs?

The biggest bug problem is with blackflies and mosquitos. Their season is usually short based on how wet the spring is. Mentioned above normally after late July there are a lot fewer bugs. However, we recommend a few different brands of bug repellants and mosquito nets. For more information on things you can do to make your trip more enjoyable contact Williams and Hall and we can help with a bunch of suggestions!


Can I Bring My Own Canoe Or Kayak?

Yes. But depending on the weight of your canoe, we do recommend taking a look at our canoes because of how light they are based on what your plans are for portaging.

How many visitors are allowed on a single BWCA permit?

The maximum number of people allowed on a permit is 9. If you need help with permits check out our permits page and contact Williams and Hall.

Do I need a Boundary Waters Canoe Area Permit For a Day Trip?

Yes, you need a permit anytime your in the Boundary Waters. If you are only doing a day trip, you can fill out a self-issue permit located at most entry points. Make sure you keep your half of the permit on you the entire day. If you need help with permits visit our permits page.

Do I need to Bring a Water Filtration Device or is it Clean Enough to Drink?

The BWCA offers some of the freshest, most purified water in the lower 48. But we still recommend using tablets, a filtration system or boil your water before drinking it. Also, check in with our Williams and Hall shop for other options.

What is allowed for Food and Beverage Containers?

Any food or beverage items packaged in a can or bottle is prohibited in either wilderness area. Food and beverages must be contained within a paper, plastic or foil pouch or carried in a plastic container. Empty plastic food or beverage containers must be packed back out with you. Non-food and beverage items, such as; insect repellent, fuel containers, and toiletry items can be contained with cans or bottles, but must be packed back out of the wilderness area.

What Camp Fire Information Do I Need To Know For My Trip?

Campfires are only allowed in the steel metal grates at designated campsites. During fire ban times campers will not be allowed . to have campfires and will need to pack a camp stove with propane canisters for cooking. Ask about any fire warnings when picking up your permits when you check in.

Do I need to reserve a Boundary Waters Canoe Area campsite?

Nope! All the campsites in the boundary waters are first-come-first-serve. This is why most visitors will choose one or two campsites for their whole trip, and venture out from that campsite for the day.

How Much Ground Can We Cover In An Average Day Canoeing and Portaging?

Depending on how early you’re paddling on the water, and the number of portages in a day, you would roughly be able to cover about 10 to 12 miles in 6 hours.

Can I bring my Dog with on my canoe trip?

Yes, dogs are allowed in the boundary waters. Please though keep them under control on portages, and they shouldn’t run after other visitors, wildlife or bark. Remember to bring reusable food containers, collar with tags (rabies vaccines, etc…) and make sure to clean up after them, just like you would yourself.

When I Berry Picking Season in the Boundary Waters?

An extra benefit in coming to the boundary waters is seeing the wonderful varieties of delicious berries that can be found here. There’s a wide variety of berry’s that can be picked. Here’s the list of when it’s peak picking time!

  • Wild Strawberry – Mid June through July
  • Thimbleberry – July through late August
  • Gooseberries – July into August
  • Wild Raspberries – July through August
  • Blueberries – End of July through August

 If I want to come to the BWCA for fall colors when should I come?

Fall is a wonderful time to come to the boundary waters. The best time to visit if you want to see the most vibrant colors would be from the middle of September through the beginning of October. Give us a call for more specific weeks to visit. 218.365.5837

What is the best time of year for a Canoe Trip?

Depending on your adventure the best time of year can vary. Fishing canoe trips consider late May into June or September. For the Classic or family trips, usually there are fewer visitors in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and the Quetico Park during May and September. For Boy Scout High Adventures the time of year might depend on your troop. But there are fewer bugs after late July.

What’s the average temperature in the summer for the boundary waters?

Great question! When planning your trip you should always check what the weather is going to be like the week you plan your trip. You can also visit our weather page with a 7-day forecast or check our weather app on our navigation.


  • The Average High ranges from 58º to 69º with the Average Low 34º to 45º | Cloud Cover – May tends to be overcast 48% to 54% of the month. | Precipitation – In May the average chance of rain daily is 27% to 35%  with Rainfall – For the month averaging 1.9 to 3.3 inches.


  • Average High ranges from 70º to 75º
  • Average Low ranges from 45º to 53º
  • Cloud Cover – June tends to be overcast 41% to 48% of the month.
  • Precipitation – In June the average chance of rain daily is 35% to 42%
  • Rainfall – For the month averaging 3.0 to 3.6 inches.


  • Average High ranges from 75º to 77º
  • Average Low ranges from 54º to 55º
  • Cloud Cover – July tends to be overcast 31% to 40% of the month.
  • Precipitation – In July the average chance of rain daily is 33% to 42%
  • Rainfall – For the month averaging 2.6 to 3.5 inches.


  • Average High ranges from 71º to 76º
  • Average Low ranges from 50º to 55º
  • Cloud Cover – August tends to be overcast 31% to 37% of the month.
  • Precipitation – In August the average chance of rain daily is 31% to 33%
  • Rainfall – For the month averaging 2.0 to 2.8 inches.


  • Average High ranges from 59º to 71º
  • Average Low 40º to 50º
  • Cloud Cover – September tends to be overcast 37% to 47% of the month.
  • Precipitation – In September the average chance of rain daily is 27% to 32%
  • Rainfall – For the month averaging 2.5 to 2.8 inches.

What do I need to know for Licenses For Fishing and Possession of Fish?

Fishing licenses are required within either wilderness area. Anyone 16 or older, who chooses to fish in the BWCA, is required to have a license. Individuals 18 years or older choosing to fish are required to purchase a fishing license for the Quetico Park. Williams and Hall can help you with permits and Licenses. Click here or Call to get started

Do I need a Life Jacket When Canoeing or Boating?

Those traveling by either boat or canoe must have a US Coast Guard approved life jacket in the watercraft. Also, there must be one life jacket for each person in the watercraft. The life jacket must be readily accessible for use.

Will my cell phone work in the Boundary Waters and Quetico?

Probably not. You may have spotty coverage as you enter the Boundary Waters. However, as you move toward the interior of the Boundary Waters you will not have coverage. There are not cell towers within the BWCA or Quetico.

Come visit us in the BWCA, and book your trip

Hopefully, our Boundary Waters FAQ has helped.  But if you have additional questions or need help planning a canoeing trip contact us at Williams and Hall. Blayne and Charlene will gladly help you set up your trip and get you the permits you need. Contact us today or give us a call at 218.365.5837